I bet at one time or another, you’ve felt pretty lost in your professional life. You were, or are, perhaps in a job or a sector that is unfulfilling. Perhaps you’re not really following the right path or perhaps you’re just unsure what you want to do at all. So many people ask if being lost is a bad thing, but actually it can be a great opportunity! These thoughts are not uncommon and often what people ask me for a helping hand with to find their next stepping stone.
So why does being lost feel like a bad thing?
Being lost is naturally associated with a sense of drifting which can feel scary, unfulfilling and unsatisfactory. However, a feeling of being lost can be the trick for a successful future as it triggers decision making. It allows you to really assess what you want to do and what you need to do to get there. It also allows some much-needed soul searching time.
So, if you are feeling lost – don’t panic. It’s your time to sense-check and work out what you really want out of your professional and often too, your personal life. Here are a few tips to help cope:
1. First off, know this is natural
Feeling lost is completely natural. Often, we are so busy striving for that ‘one thing’, we can lose sight of what we really want and that ‘it’ might not be it after all. This can lead us to feel confused as to what we are doing with our lives. So many times, I hear from people who were so hellbent on getting to that certain role or promotion, that they ignored the red flags that were telling them that it really isn’t what they wanted at all. Then, when they finally realise, they’re overwhelmed with being stuck and lost in what they’re doing and why.
2. Get practical
If, for example, you’ve decided your job or career trajectory isn’t for you, work out why that is. Are there certain elements you like/ excel at compared with others? Or what are the things that you really don’t enjoy? It’s a great exercise to ask what really floats your boat and what makes you excited and energised. These are the elements that need focussing on. I’d say you’d be hard pushed to hate everything about your current situation, so take some time to think about what bits are for you and what aren’t.
3. Ask for help
Being lost on your own can feel pretty lonely. I would always advise on talking it through with either a friend or professional to give you some perspective. By talking about why you’re feeling this way can often open up new thinking or insights. These can be vital to helping you figure out the next stage. Understanding why you’re feeling like you do is a huge benefit to getting out of feeling that way. Sometimes you just need someone else’s thoughts and experiences to guide you.
4. Get yourself in the best shape for change
This is something I talk about a lot. If there’s a sea change coming your way, as exciting as that is, it will need you to be firing on all cylinders. So do make sure that you are taking care of yourself. Changing careers, jobs or elements of your life can be stressful so try and practice as much self-care as you can in order to manage these. And by this, I mean eating well, exercising, sleeping, journaling (if that’s your thing) – anything to make you feel as good as you can. By looking after yourself first you’ll be in the best position to handle change and to see that being lost is no bad thing.
And remember, in the words of the mighty Dolly Parton:
“If you don’t like the road you’re walking, pave another one.”