Are you in a season of your career where you are exploring what’s next but don’t know how to answer that question and are feeling stuck? Perhaps you are exploring if that promotion to VP is what’s most meaningful or if you want to start your own company. 

I had written about this a few weeks back in my LinkedIn post here in the hopes to normalize how unsettling it can be, especially if you are looking at a non-linear career path. If you feel you don’t know where to start or are overwhelmed with your choices, you are not alone.

Several of my clients at some point in our coaching partnership land up with this big question and while there are many tools to explore options, here is one of my favorite tools that involves coming up with different scenarios and using both your head and heart as you make meaning of them. 

I won’t promise you that you’ll have all of your career dilemmas answered at the end of this process but I can assure you a lot more clarity on your next steps and some next steps to explore. 

So let’s get started. 

First, reflect on these questions. Maybe you take an hour out of your day and journal on these or you let these simmer in the background as you go about your day. I’d highly recommend doing this exercise with a trusted partner and potentially take turns where you can each reflect back what you are hearing from the other person. 

  • What problems are you interested in solving? 
  • Whose careers (and lives) do you admire (or are envious of)?
  • What do you want more/less of in your career (and life) in this season? 

Second, based on these reflections, create 4-5 potential scenarios. Perhaps one is where you continue climbing the ladder you are on, another can be to stay in the current role and run a few experiments on the side, another can be a small business, etc. Let yourself imagine things that don’t feel feasible at the moment (I know this sounds crazy but trust me there is a reason). And now for each of these scenarios, reflect on the following questions 

  • What’s the first emotion and thought that comes up?
  • What fears are triggered?
  • What values are honored (or not)? 
  • Where do you have the greatest skills & relationships?
  • What are the gaps in information for the scenario?
  • What market needs are you serving? 

Once we explore some of these questions, sometimes my clients will then come up with a consolidated scenario that they hadn’t considered before. Some realize that scenarios X & Y are both meaningful but they need to stagger them in a specific order. Most will leave with a greater clarity and some next steps. Sometimes it’s a few informational interviews or listening to more podcasts on a specific topic and other times it is having a conversation with a partner or their manager. 

I will close with the reminder that sometimes we can see the end of the story but sometimes we can get clarity on the next step and then can trust that step to reveal more on where to go next.

Pic Credit: Tim Mossholder

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