What do you do when your whole life you have told you are a shoe, you are a shoe, you are a shoe but you don’t want to be a shoe? Maybe you want to be a hat? These immortal words brought about by Rachel Green in Friends are as applicable to a career as it can be to any situation including your career. It can feel like an out of body experience. Have you ever felt like the whole world has told you that you are a shoe and every day you try your best to be a shoe? But at what point is it okay to say this isn’t me. This isn’t what I want.
Ever since high school every personality test or career quiz I took told me that I should be in sales. My parents said I should be in sales. My professors in college recommended that I take the Advance Professional Selling class because I would be good at sales. Then after school I got a job in sales. It makes sense. When everything is pointing you in a direction that is probably the direction you should go. So, then what happens when you find out you don’t like it?
Insanity is the idea of doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. I think many people find themselves stuck in the rut of what I should do vs what I want to do. Sometimes it might be what I am good at vs what makes me happy/fulfilled/alive, etc. I went to a few different jobs, all in the same industry, all in the same general requirements and I couldn’t understand why I continued to be unhappy, unmotivated and unfulfilled. This is what I was supposed to do, everyone said so. And that is why it was time to find someone else to talk to.
I found Career Path because a friend of mine had used them when he made a dramatic career change. I wasn’t looking for drama, just direction. Even though I knew the process would be different I was surprised when I didn’t get the “you should be in sales” answer to any of our sessions. Instead, we went through a series of questions and research and thought process and self-evaluation to discover more than just what I should do for my next job. I found out why I was reacting to certain situations and people. I found out what I needed to be inspired and why what I was doing wasn’t working. But, the best example of how this process was different is that I had an opportunity to take a new position. I brought the opportunity to my counselor and we looked at it from every angle and found that the position wasn’t any different than the positions that I was doing that were making me unhappy. She saved me from entering another cycle.
Since meeting with my counselor I have moved more towards a path of creativity and have gone to a smaller company where what I do directly impacts the company and its future. I am valued for what I do and how I contribute. And when a situation comes up where I am reacting I can identify what I am reacting to and evaluate my response. Is it my dragons talking? Or is there a legitimate issue and how do I deal with it. I can also notice I am more aware of my direct reports and when they are battling with issues. I am certainly not at the last stop of my journey. While my current job is similar to what I was doing and in the same industry it is helping me be exposed to many new ways of thinking. I am in school working for my MBA with an emphasis in strategic marketing (I’m a planner at heart). With each person I meet I am learning about directions I could go when I complete my degree. Who knows where I will end up? And that works for me.
Ironically, after all this process I think many people are facing this issue. You spend a long time doing what you think you should do but it isn’t what is going to make you happy. So it’s time to think, do you really want to be a shoe? Or do you know that it is time to try being a hat, or a purse, or a scarf…..
Jessica Gibbons-Rauch is the Director of Sales at Club Colors.