“Why Can't I Figure Out What I Want To Do?”

Becki's desperate to move into a new career, but all her ideas are about how she wants to work, not what she wants to do. Her brain's in overdrive but she's still getting nowhere: how can she ever find 'the one'?

What's your career history and current job?

I'm a marketing manager.

After school I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I picked a degree I thought I'd enjoy. I graduated with first-class honours in Media, Culture and Communication.

Soon afterwards, I fell in to a job locally as a marketing manager, without really giving any thought as to what I wanted to do. I'm still doing the same work five years later, although I'm now in a different company.

I manage all of the public-facing areas of the company: things like the website, social media and press releases. I research and write content, as well as ensuring that the branding and messaging across the company is consistent.

How do you feel about your work?

I hate being chained to a desk, and I really dislike the mundane, 9–5, office lifestyle.

My entire role revolves around using a computer. I'm so aware that living such a sedate lifestyle isn't good for me; for eight to ten hours a day I'm completely stationary.

I can't stand working set hours: I hate getting up at 7 a.m. every day, without fail, and driving an hour to work. And when I get there I dislike the fact that I am confined indoors all day. A lot of the communication I have with people is either over the phone or via email, both of which I find impersonal.

I'm only 27, and it's scary to think that I might have to do a job I hate for (potentially) another 40 years until I'm old enough to retire.

I'm unbelievably frustrated, and, somehow, I feel like a failure.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I have absolutely no idea what I want to do.

None at all.

I looked at teaching; I was even offered two different trainee teacher roles, but then I decided I wasn't willing to commit to the extra work outside of school hours.

I thought about counselling, but then I worried that I wasn't the sort of person who could switch off at the end of the day. I imagined laying awake at night, thinking about the horrible stories I might hear.

I also looked into personal training, and even qualified as a Level 2 Fitness Instructor last year. Unfortunately, I live in a very sleepy little countryside town, and after speaking to others it was obvious that I would really struggle to make a living without working every waking hour of the day.

There are a couple of things which are important to me in whatever career I choose: home working and flexible hours. I get to work at least one day from home per week in my current role, and I'm much happier (and more productive) with the freedom to take breaks or work in the garden.

And, although I understand that computer work is usually necessary, I need this to be just part of the job – not the whole thing.

I want to work in a sector that I have some interest in. I currently work in Defence, and although other people think it's 'cool', I have pretty minimal interest in what new navigation systems are going into jets!

My main passion in life is health, fitness and well-being in general, so perhaps I could do something in this area. I like the idea of working with and helping people in some way, and I would still like to be able to write, so perhaps something where I could write a blog or maintain my own website would suit me.

Although money is not the be all and end all, I do want to be financially stable, so I'd like to earn similar (or close) to what I'm earning now.

I really like the idea of working for myself and being able to set my own hours. Don't get me wrong, I know this isn't an easy option and I don't want to sound as if I just want to be a lady of leisure – I don't at all!

But all I have are these shopping list items, with no real idea at the centre.

All of my closest friends and my partner knew what they wanted to do right from the outset of their careers, and now they're all working their way up their respective ladders. I think to myself "Why are you unable to make a decision, when everyone else around you has?" I get home every night and spend hours looking at other job roles, researching, coming up with blanks, and frustrating myself even more.

It genuinely takes over every part of my life; whether I'm daydreaming in the car, working out in the gym, watching TV at night, or out with friends, I can't stop thinking about what to do with my life.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

I just don't know how to find out what I want to actually do.

I have done a few online 'questionnaires', all of which have indicated I have a creative / empathetic personality, and would suit something where I am helping or providing a service to people. Job suggestions have included everything from therapy, to owning a spa, to freelance writing.

I also spoke to a local careers adviser, but if I'm honest she really didn't help. I don't think she knew what to suggest to someone who had absolutely no idea what they wanted to do. I've read a lot of the Success Stories here at Careershifters. They've helped me in the sense that I know changing careers and finding something that suits you can be done, but I still haven't been able to discover what I want to do.

My vocational skills are pretty much non-existent, and I'm still quite young, so I don't have years and years of life savings behind me to just quit my job and retrain. And even if I did, what would I retrain in?

Everything keeps coming back to the fact that I really have no idea what I want to do.

I can see myself becoming more and more disillusioned with my role, and getting to the point where I simply hate going to work every day. I was desperately unhappy in my previous role, due to a bullying boss and mind-numbing work. It affected everything in my life. I can't let that happen again.

How can I get moving on my shift when I can't find anything that feels right?

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

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