Suddenly feeling like work and sometimes also career direction isn’t looking so appealing anymore can be destabilising. It can catch you off guard, with no real clarity on what exactly is off, what exactly is missing or what exactly you need to be doing instead. 

If you’re an achiever, go-getter, a doer, then this feels significant because all you want is to know where you’re going and what you need to do so you can do something about it.

It can feel that we don’t have enough influence to immediately change the situation – though do we even know what we would change. Or enough clarity to pivot direction – but do we know if pivoting is indeed the appropriate course of action.

The thing is that there are usually not any immediate answers when this happens. This glitch (as I like to call it) is almost like something inside you is now in conflict with something outside of you. 

If this is a deeper glitch than a tactical one, In my experience this isn’t necessarily about immediate change. This is about recalibration.

And so reframing ‘something needs to change quickly and I don’t know where to start’ to ‘something needs to change soon and I need to test a few approaches’ can ease the pressure whilst providing some focus for action. Either way you are committing to change, and this is a very good place to start.

When you’re not sure where to start, here are five things you can think about as part of your test and learn approach:


Align your environment to your values

If you don’t know your values – definitely start there first. Values drive our actions and behaviour. When we can live by our values, we are happy. When our values are in conflict, it causes dissatisfaction. 

Values change over time, and it’s good to check in to where they are now and what’s important for you at your core now if you’re feeling a bit out of sorts. Read more on my article about the importance of values for decision making here .

Once you’re clearer on your values, think about any parallels between what’s missing and how that is impacting you right now. If you have a value of recognition, you may realise that one thing that’s really bothering you is all the work you’re doing on a project going unnoticed, or all the effort you are making in a relationship being taken for granted. Start to unpick the parallels between your core values – your drivers of motivation, and the gaps in your life as it is, and see if you notice if anything starts to make a little more sense than it did before.

Think about how you can make adjustments to your environment to reflect your values. Does it need a conversation? And has that conversation become easier because instead of ‘I don’t know why I am not feeling motivated in this project’ your conversation starter becomes ‘It is affecting me that my work is not being recognised on this project, and that’s important to me’.

Starting to align your environment to your values is a great way to take more immediate action, and as you start to understand your values more this will be invaluable in working out actions further down the line.

Work to your strengths

Working to our strengths can catapult us to being happier, more productive, more engaged, more effective. There is a lot of positive psychology around focusing on strengths. This is a no brainer but sometimes defined jobs allow little job crafting.

You know your strengths, but do you know them objectively? Ask around. Ask a mix of friends, family, colleagues. ‘What are my strengths?’, ‘What am I good at?’, ‘What do I do better than others?’.

Gather the information and get brainstorming on ways to use your strengths more frequently, more intensively, more consistently. 

When I did this exercise, I heard the same thing from my friends – ‘you’re a great listener’, ‘you’re non judgmental’, ‘you always see situations from a different perspective, ‘you make me feel inspired and hopeful when it feels tough’. So off I went to train to be a Samaritans volunteer where I could use all of these strengths in a new and structured way. (This was one of the first steps to my career change, read more here).

Be curious

Get investigative!

Don’t think too hard about this one. If you are drawn to something, if you feel excited by something or someone, if you feel instinctively interested, follow your nose.

Ask questions, consume content, attend that webinar, go to that information evening, ask the question. Don’t be led by what you think you could get out of it, let go of any attachment to the outcome, just take the action and see where it leads you.

Free yourself from your own expectations, from the expectations of others, for how it ‘fits’ with your work or current direction. If you’re a head of operations and you feel drawn to modern jazz, just go with it.

Make time to learn

Linked to all of the above: make time to learn. Learn by doing. 

Passion can come from application, so start to learn and do things that instinctively catch your attention, that build on your strengths, that align to your values, or that simply give you a sense of creativity and freedom.

This is a really fun method of opening your mind up, especially when you’ve been in a job or career for 15-20 years and you know what you know, but don’t know much else and what else could work for you. 

Have a go – you might even discover new strengths, especially if you’re following your instincts without an agenda. Take note of what gives you the most energy, what makes you feel alive, happy, excited. 

Build relationships

Talk to people. Leverage your network, and your networks network. Ask them why they do what they do, how they got into it, what their advice is, is there an opportunity for you to learn more from what they do. And so on. 

We are all human, it can feel lovely and be flattering to be asked these questions. People love to help people. Ask the questions. Get to know new people, different people. 

Think about how you can learn from them, add value to them, collaborate, make an impact. No limits on this one either. When I started doing this, I was so overwhelmed by how many people were doing such different, exciting, innovative things. Spin offs of old jobs, creating new jobs, hybrid jobs. I was so blinkered in the corporate world that this felt like a different universe.

I can tell you this much – you never know where a conversation will lead, but it will always lead nowhere if you don’t have it.


Where will you start? Take a second now to think about what in this article has resonated with you. Are you feeling any differently to how you were feeling when you clicked to read? Do yourself a big big favour, and write down one action that you will take from the above. You now have somewhere to start.


Photo by Gia Oris on Unsplash