Tips to Navigate an Identity Crisis
You're kicking butt in your current career, moving up the corporate ladder, enjoying the perks that come with it, not to mention, the praise you receive from your friends and family. On one hand, you are damn successful! But one day, you start to feel like something is missing. You can't put your finger on it. And as much as you try to push it aside, the feeling just won't go away!
It's rough. But you start to realize that perks, praise and promotions are not enough. You need to feel like you're making a difference, making the world a better place, or helping people in some way. You are looking for purpose and fulfillment. And right now, you really aren't feeling it.
And it's only getting worse, because you realize you have NO IDEA what you want to do with your life or where to even start?
Into the darkness you go...
But don't worry, I got you. I'm sharing 3 hurdles you may encounter through the process, how to minimize the darkness and how you'll come out stronger, happier, and better than ever!
The anxiety can be a lot to handle: Focus on self-care
Realizing you have no idea what you want to do with your life can be terrifying, especially when you've been so successful in your current career, and life has been pretty mapped out for you to date. It can distract you from doing your work, cause insomnia, social anxiety, make you feel lonely, isolated, and many other not so pleasant feelings.
- Know that these feelings are most likely totally normal for the size of the challenge you're facing.
- For some people (myself included), a potential big change can be very jarring to your day to day life.
- Breathing, meditation, yoga, exercise, and doing things that feel routine to you, can make the challenge more manageable and allow you to focus on what good will come from this change.
- Side note: please make sure to see a mental/health professional to rule out other problems that can be associated with these symptoms.
Loneliness and isolation associated with a big life change can be paralyzing: Reach out to a trusted friend and focus on gratitude
You may start to tell your friends and family that you're exploring a change. Some people will support you; others will look at you like you have 3 heads and ask you why you'd ever give up all of the greatness you currently have. You are left feeling lonely, viewed as ungrateful and then question whether you're asking for too much.
- You are not asking for too much.
- You are super grateful for all that you've learned and built, you're just ready for something new and different.
- I recommend starting small - tell a trusted friend, someone who has always felt safe to you, someone you respect, who has overcome a challenge in their own lives, who you know will allow you a safe space to share your concerns. As you tell more people, you can use the safe, supportive people as an anchor.
- This feeling will come and go, remember, you are trusting your gut, doing what you need to do to be the best person you can be, and you do have at least 1 person who supports you. There are more wonderful supporters down the road.
Saying "I don't know" is a weakness of yours: Overcome it! It will build humility, clarity, community and confidence.
When my clients have realized they need a change but don't know what it is yet, I recommend they start doing informational interviews with people who work in industries/roles they find interesting. Telling someone you're just meeting, "I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I WANT TO DO WITH MY LIFE," is scary and vulnerable, especially when you're used to being an expert in your field. You feel like you're heading back to undergrad and totally starting over.
- You are not starting over, no matter what's next.
- Most likely, the vast majority of your strengths and skills are transferable to a new career, and what you need to learn, you will learn. You're clearly a growth-minded person if you're setting out on this journey in the first place!
- It's so important here to approach people, who again, feel safe. It can make all the difference in your experience. Look to network with people who have made a career pivot or people who are passionate about what they do. These people will be able to empathize with you, give you awesome advice AND be ready and willing to help.
- Look at your career as a life long learning opportunity, it will make it much easier to embrace the pivots. If you don't enjoy any of the journey, what's the point of life?
As you start to uncover who you are and what's most important to you, take your time to identify how to build all of it into a new life and career.
You may need some help - we're really in the weeds in our own lives and perspective can be key to seeing yourself clearly.
Then, you'll be able to focus on the excitement and fulfillment associated with your new future, whether that entails more creativity, connecting with people on a deeper level, or freedom to work anywhere you want, it's all possible. And you can make a very lucrative income doing it. You'll end up loving what you do.