“What If My Ideal Career Is Something I Don't Even Know Exists?”

Terry's considered hundreds of different career ideas, but none feel inspiring enough to justify leaving his current position. He's concluded that his ideal work must be either the job he's already in, or that it's something he has no idea exists. But if you don't know something exists, how can you find it?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a senior financial auditor for a major health care product manufacturer.

I've worked in financial services for over 15 years.

How do you feel about your work?

This is a hard question to answer, because it's a bit like asking how I feel about my left leg.

My job and this line of work is what I know. I know it inside out, I know my company inside out, and I'm valued here. I've achieved things over the last ten years that I'm very proud of, and I'm grateful to my employers and my industry for helping me become the person that I am.

Having said that, over the past five years I've had this nagging thought: "Is this all I'm ever going to do?" and I can't seem to shake it.

It's not that I hate my job, like some other people I've seen featured in Careershifters Cafés in the past.

It's more that I have a big question mark hanging over it which has never been there before.

My parents both passed away a few years ago, and since then I've been struck by how short and fragile our time on this planet can be. It's awakened an urgency inside me that I want to explore.

I want to know: What else is available to me? Is this really what I'm going to do for the rest of my life? Is this all I'm capable of doing? Am I only in this career because it's easy?

I've never particularly wanted an easy life, but somehow it's become what I've got, and although it's not unbearable, it has begun to feel like a potential future regret.

What would you like to be doing instead?

The million dollar question. I would love some clarity and certainty about the answer.

I must have considered fifty different possibilities over the last six months alone. I've been spending my commutes doing personality tests and career quizzes; I've quietly visited recruitment consultants to discuss what might be available to me; I even found myself in the office of a Tarot card reader to see what she had to say about it!

Despite all this research, nothing's showed up that I can mention in answer to this question with any level of certainty.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I'm a financial specialist.

I've worked in the finance and corporate services world for my entire career. I know of a broad range of things that people do for a living, but none of them feel as though they have (or could have) anything to do with me.

And because I'm not desperately unhappy in my current career, it's not as though I can use what I definitely don't want as a starting point for my thinking.

Any exploration of possibilities only ever seems to create a big ocean of beige. Nothing's standing out; nothing's particularly colourful, inspiring or exciting.

I admire a whole host of other people for what they do for a living, but that doesn't mean that their careers are going to be relevant to me and my future trajectory. And I find that often the careers of people I admire are those of people whose personalities and lifestyles are as far away from mine as possible. It's like going to the ballet or the circus. You love it because you couldn't imagine how any human being could do what those performers are doing. It's a spectacle, and it's amazing, but that doesn't mean you're destined to hurl yourself through fiery hoops.

Perhaps my expectations are too high. But until something shows up on my radar that leaves me truly excited to go after it, and that's a good fit with my experience and personality, I feel as though leaving my current, not-so-awful career would be fickle and self-indulgent.

I can't help but wonder if the reason I'm not finding anything that excites me is because I'm already in the right career. And yet, that thought feels so disappointing. The only other thing I can think of is that the career I should be moving into is something I don't even know about yet.

And if that's the case, how on earth do I go about finding it?

Can you help Terry?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How could he unearth options he doesn't currently know are out there?
  • Do you know anyone he could talk to?

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