“I'm Confused By All The Options In Front Of Me. How Do I Narrow Down My Ideas?”

Nicole's fed up with spending her days doing meaningless work. She longs to trade it all in for something that really fires her up. But how do you discover your ideal career when you've got so many ideas that your head is spinning?

What's your career history and current job?

I originally qualified as a mechanical engineer, which is where my career has taken me so far.

For the past year, I've been working for a company that manufactures industrial gas turbines.

How do you feel about your work?

I've always loved maths and science, so engineering seemed like a natural fit for me.

I enjoy the challenge of problem solving, thinking analytically and logically, and collaborating with other people. No two days are ever the same, which I really like.

But unlike some of my previous engineering roles, which involved getting outside and troubleshooting issues up close, I now spend most of my time behind a desk. I don't enjoy the feeling of being almost completely inactive, 'cooped up' in an office all day, and working inflexible hours.

Unfortunately, I also haven't got any passion for the work I'm doing. I can't get excited about turbine engines, so the idea of going into work every day is more draining than motivating. I don't feel any sense of fulfilment, and it often feels like the work I'm doing doesn't matter to anyone.

I've realised that although I don't hate engineering, it's never given me that 'warm and fuzzy' feeling that people often talk about when they genuinely love what they do.

I long to wake up every morning, and feel happy and excited about going to work!

What would you like to be doing instead?

I want to find a meaningful career that I can feel really passionate about, working the hours I choose, on my own terms.

In an ideal world, I'd do something that actively involves helping people or animals, working in the Great Outdoors. Ever since I was little, I've loved being outside. There's something so inspiring about being surrounded by fresh air.

My husband and I have always dreamed about buying a farm, growing our own vegetables, and raising our own animals. But we haven't got the money to do anything like that, and it's hard to see how it could be a real business, anyway.

I've been working with a career coach for the past few months, who has helped me uncover lots of different ideas and interests, such as planning and organisation, sports, nutrition, and photography. I've thought about becoming an event planner, a sports coach, or even a vet.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I'm confused by all the different options in front of me, and I don't know how to start narrowing them all down.

I want to find inspiring work that I can plan towards in a practical way. But I don't know where to begin.

None of the career ideas I've had stand out more than the others, and unfortunately, I can't afford to just leave my job and keep trying new things until I find something that feels right.

I've also worked hard to achieve my engineering qualifications, and they were expensive. Engineering is all I've ever known as a career, so I don't want to waste any more time and money on training for something new, if I can't be 100% convinced it's going to be right for me.

I've been making an effort to explore some different things in my free time, such as volunteering at a hospital, and setting up a 'side hustle', selling health and wellness products from home. While that has helped me gain some new skills in business and marketing, it hasn't brought me any closer to finding a new and inspiring career.

I don't want to be stuck behind a desk, doing meaningless work for the rest of my career. But unless I can feel truly inspired about something else, I can't see how to plan my way out.

How do I cut through all the confusion and uncertainty I'm feeling, and find work that feels like it was always meant for me?

Can you help Nicole?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Nicole could move her shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone she could talk to?

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