Where are you driving your career bus?

Have you ever felt stuck in your job?  Frustrated at work?  Paralyzed by indecision?  Walls closing in, nowhere to run?  Every path look like a dead-end?career coaching, career change

It drives me crazy when I can’t see the way forward.  It feels impossible to see the wood from the trees.

I felt trapped in my old job because I didn’t have any idea of what I wanted to do next.  Without options I was stuck on the back seat of the career bus.

Now the Good News

The good news – all of us get stuck from time to time in our careers

The even better news – there are plenty of things that we can do to get unstuck and stay in a creative space.

Over the last few years, here are three things I’ve done to help me get out of my rut and start driving my career bus:

Step 1 – Take the steering wheel

When I was stuck, I remember seeing my job as something that happened to me.  I was a passenger in my own career.

I’d turn up on a Monday morning, be told that I had a project in Minnesota, get on a plane and go work.  Once that project was done, I’d be given my next assignment.

With this outlook, work became about keeping my head above water – avoiding getting fired, not upsetting a client, not causing a stir, surviving.

Somewhere along the way, someone wise told me that you have to take control of your career and make it happen your way.

Moving from the passenger seat to the driver’s seat changed my perspective.  Seeing everything at work as a choice opened my eyes to the possibilities.

I could start looking for projects I wanted to do.  I could try to start service offerings around things that really interested me.  I could ask for help and support in developing new skills that I knew I was missing.

I started to drive my career bus and the world around me changed.

Questions to ask yourself…

  • Are you controlling your career or is it happening to you?
  • Which seat are you sitting in on your career bus?
  • What would be possible if you firmly gripped the wheel starting today?

Step 2 – Set your own route

A wiser man than me (Stephen Covey, Author of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People) recommends that we should “Begin with the End in Mind”. career coaching, career change

Once I’d taken control of my career bus, I needed to figure out where to drive it.

Without a destination in mind, it was still pretty difficult to work out what to do next or to choose between career options.

Setting a clear career vision means working out what you want to get from your work and how that fits with your life.

To set a vision usually involves exploring who you are and getting creative about what could be possible if you really make the most of your potential.

I really enjoyed spending time thinking about these questions (many of which I’d never fully thought about before).  I got to know myself a little better.

I started to get clear that I was passionate about helping people make the most of life, that I wanted to have more autonomy and control over my work, that I was excited (and frightened) by the idea of running my own business.

A vision started to form and I set a clear route to follow for my career bus.

Questions for you…

  • Where are you driving your career bus?
  • What is your vision for your career?

Step 3 – Become a confident driver

If you’ve ever driven a real bus, you’ll know they are heavy and difficult to maneuver.

Even once you’ve taken the wheel and worked out where to go, driving your career can be tough.

I definitely faced up to a lot of challenges along the way –

Rejection – my choices were blocked by other people

Resistence – circumstances conspired to make things difficult

Failure – I’ve had some ideas that have fallen flat on their face

Self-sabotage – that little voice in my head piped up to tell me I wasn’t good enough to drive my own career and I should be happy with my lot

Learning to drive the bus means developing the confidence to make your own choices, stick at your route and take advantages of the opportunities along the way.

I’ve spent a lot of time working on my confidence, my ability to deal with rejection, developing positive affirmations to boost self-esteem and how to overcome my gremlins.

The more I practice, the more confident I get and the better I get at driving my bus.

Questions for you….

  • How confident do you feel about making career choices?
  • What obstacles do you face in driving your career bus?
  • What driving lessons might help you be a better driver?

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Photo credit: Aurelijust Valeisa , Eden Pictures (Flickr Creative Commons)

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  1. Phil
    September 21, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    How do you go about driving your own career bus? Where are you headed?

  2. September 21, 2010 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Hi Phil,
    I believe making a commitment is everything, to stick with the metaphor “you are either on the bus or your off the bus” (Ken Kesey). Persistence, course corrections and a single pointed vision has been the hallmark of my past epochs and my current endeavor.

  3. September 21, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

    Hey Phil,

    I have always loved “begin with the end in mind.” It works for so many things in life. You can take that to the end of your life, even and turn around. I want to have had one hell of a time! So far, I am …

    As for the career bus, something about the word career has been bothering me for about four years. It feels like an isolated branch of one’s life rather than being intertwined with the many facets of our lives.

    I’d rather drive my life bus and my career is just one of the many seats. So, I’ll just tweak your question and cycle back to what I said earlier if that’s fine with you.

    I try to be an inspirational rebel and life awakener in everything I do. Once I started to do that, my bus ride became exciting, each day a new route to somewhere fabulous.

    Thx, G.
    Giulietta Nardone recently posted..Life is Messy- Wear a Smock

  4. October 19, 2010 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve often found that, as you mentioned, setting a clear vision is the key. By knowing where you want to go in the big picture, it makes it easier to take each smaller step necessary to achieve a goal.
    Gennaro recently posted..Best Car Rental Companies

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