Managing perception when you’re in a state of career confusion


Many leaders who work with me are at a crossroads, unsure of what to do next with their career planning. By the time they reach me, they're often in a state of feeling confused, stuck, lost and even unhappy.  

The risk for these leaders is that their state of confusion can show up in the workplace as disengaged, disheartened, withdrawn and possibly toxic. A shift in their behavior can create a negative shift in the perception of them with management, their peers and their team.

They may say things to various people in the business such as, "I don't know if I want to be here" or "I'm lost". 

Now, while this communication may be honest, if it’s not delivered in an empowered way it can be detrimental to your brand. The people you speak with may share your feelings with others and it can ripple out across the business, impacting people’s perception of your engagement and question your value in the business.  

Now, I’m not saying that if you are lost or stuck, you don't communicate that you need support. I’m encouraging you to think carefully about how you approach each conversation to elevate your career path, rather than shrink it. It’s important to be aware of your energy levels, particularly when you're communicating to those around you, whether it's peers, your manager or other people across the business. 

You could say something such as... 

"I've reached a stage in my career where I'm ready for the next level, as I’m not feeling challenged anymore (or ready to do some career planning to make the next 5-10 years really fulfilling). I'm looking for opportunities for growth and new experience, and I'm exploring ways to do that. One of my current goals is clarity with my next career step. I want to provide maximum value here and to continue producing great work, and I want to get clear on the nexts step and I’ll be taking action to do that.” 

The next step could be to find a mentor, do some training and development, shadow various people in the business, participate in a team to try new things, or even take a break and travel to get re-energised. The important thing is that you are exploring pathways and taking action. 

I acknowledge that when you’re feeling lost and confused it can be hard to find the energy for this type of activity, but avoiding it and communicating in a disempowered way may cause unnecessary damage to your brand both within the business and your industry.

In summary, manage your state and energy, try to stay positive, keep an eye on the goal, (even if the goal is clarity) and then communicate that in a healthy, positive way where you're demonstrating that you're still wanting to provide value to the business, but you're looking for the next shift and opportunity. 

Remember, everyone experiences career confusion from time to time, but it’s important that you manage the way you show up to protect the brand and reputation you’ve spent so long building.  

If this resonates with you, jump on my calendar or a quick chat to see if I can help you as you move forward in your career. 

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