To be at a career crossroad, no matter at what stage of your career you are in, can be a truly unsettling feeling. To say that it is only normal for you to feel anxious and scared, might sound like we are belittling what you feel, but we only say so because we’ve been where you are. And though it may not seem so at the moment, it always passes. You may find a lot of advice coming your way, some solicited, but mostly unsolicited, and not know how to filter all of it. The purpose of this post is not to impose more advice on you, but to share with you things we wish someone had told us, which would surely have made navigating the career crossroad easy.
It is alright to change your mind
At times, we may think we want something, but along comes something else which we feel we may like better. During times like this, what we are usually told is to focus single mindedly on what we first looked forward to, and that changing your mind about a career option is not a wise move, but a fickle one. We would say, if you have thought it through and if there are other things that drive you more than what you initially were about to settle for, go for it.
It is alright to not know what you want
It is a typically Indian problem to have no say in what education we want to pursue, and hence what career we aspire to have. Crucial factors such as these are quite unfortunately socially determined. To realize that you do not know what you want, is one step towards progress. It is a step towards the fact that you are questioning the roles you are ‘expected’ to fill in. To not know what you want, is the first step towards finding out what you want.
It is alright for you to take a break
Taking a break at any point of time during your education, or your career, is almost considered a taboo in the Indian context, since it works against the established flow of the rat race we have all been a part of. Remember that taking a break only helps you think through things with more clarity and to truly discover what your calling is. And once you have discovered that, think about the “how” – remember that wisdom – a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ? Use the time to break down your journey to the stepping-stones you need to take to reach your calling.
It is alright for you to not listen to anyone
Like we said, most of the advice that would come your way during a career crossroad is unsolicited. You have every right to hear them but choose to not listen. Talking helps, sure, but choose the people talking to who calms you and makes you think clearly, instead of people who make you more anxious. This is where you need to open your Rolodex and get in touch with your team of trusted career advisors.
It is alright for you to believe in your plan, even if no one else does
At times, it becomes tough to even find a single person who believes in your plans for yourself.
Even though they may love you, they may not have confidence in your plans, which will only pull you down. However, if you have thought it through and are sure about what you want (even if not 100%), put on blinkers and charge on. Go, make something happen!
Knowing these five things can truly make a difference to your stress levels when you are at a career crossroad – to care much less, and focus only on what is ahead of you, or on the goal you want to achieve. Telling yourself these five things every morning will help you shut out distractions and just stick to your plan of action, or if you don’t have one, it will help you come up with one! Remember that it is all a part of the game, and in retrospect, you will understand and appreciate how much you have learnt and grown in the process.