What to do if you are on the wrong career track

Are you wondering whether the job you are in is the right one?  

Are you climbing the ladder of promotion and going through the motions but wondering what happens when you reach the top? Is the ladder leaning against the right wall?

It is easy to question whether you are on the right path, but not always so easy to identify what the right path might be. The search for inspiration can be an exhilarating one.  I recommend it.

Start with friends and colleagues.  Ask them what they do, what keeps them up at night, what a typical day is like, what they are proud of.  Be constantly making yourself notice what potentially is exciting to you.

Read magazines to see what is going on that you may not have been aware of.  Read Fast Company, Wired, Inc. for example.  I like to read them on paper, putting those little arrow stickies on the edge of pages where there is something that catches my fancy so I can come back to it.  But you can also do this online with the same mags and TED Talks and the almost infinite number of industry blogs.  There are many ways of tagging things online that strike you; I have recently been trying Evernote, which lets me capture and store all sorts of references including my own voice and access them later on my various devices.

Go to networking events – and not just ones that are specific to your industry.  Ask your new acquaintances the same questions you’ve been asking your friends.  You will be amazed how many employers and lines of work you’ve never heard of. Use the tidbits you’ve picked up to provoke conversations asking perhaps if they know anything about this thing you just read in Wired. Be open to delving into things that seem even just a bit interesting.  The way the media business is going, everything is a part of it – so it can only make you smarter.

Make this an ongoing project.  It will energize you.  It will expand your horizons.  It will lead you to interesting people and experiences and it will inform your search for the right wall to prop your next ladder against.  Bon voyage.