Career confusion: Is it OK to be confused about your career?

Career confusion: Is it OK to be confused about your career?

As you watch your friends climb the ladder to success, get promoted, entertain clients at stellar lunches and put down the deposit on their first home, it can feel scary to contemplate that you still don’t quite know what to do with your life.

Whether you are in a job that you don’t love or desperately looking for the next great thing to strive towards, career malaise can be one of the biggest causes of stress for many women. However, if wondering what to do with you career is keeping you up at night, then take a deep breath – the following ideas may just help.

The reason career confusion is so prevalent in women today is that we are one of the first generations that has the luxury – and option – of choosing work that we love. The generations before us had little vocational choice – women either worked the fields or served as maids; confined to war factories or stayed at home to clean up and raise the children. So really, this confusion is the luxury of having opportunity and choice. Celebrate! In fact, we know that statistically the average person will change a career path five to seven times in the course of a lifetime.

However, the focus on choosing what we love and what we’re good at for a job can be a double edged sword for someone who has various talents and hobbies. “I’m an amazing baker – should I open up a cake store? But I’m also great with kids – should I train to be a nanny?” Even if you have articulated a personal strength as a guide, there is still a world of vocations for every personality type. For instance, if you are organised you could be an event planner, a company manager or an executive assistant – all very different vocations requiring that same skill. What’s a gal to do?


While this can feel like your active mind will give you little chance of committing to a set path, career confusion is a healthy and normal pathway to success that can even be used to your advantage.

Firstly, adjust your attitude to the whole situation. Focusing on how anxious or confused you feel will only breed more of the same – and even blind you to possible opportunities that may crop up because you are too busy worrying!  Instead, do stress management techniques like walking, yoga and meditation to still your mind and be proactive in maintaining a positive outlook. Change your self-talk to say “of course I will find the right role. This path of exploration is joyful and opening my world to many opportunities, people and ideas. I am excited by what is around the corner and am certain I will be a success!” Repeat and affirm this power stanza every time you feel less than fist-pumped about the future.

Next, be open to exploring every opportunity that comes your way – even if at first it seems unconventional. Fortune favours the brave so put your hand up, reach out and walk boldly through the doors that open. You never know what you’ll learn!  Don’t be quick to dismiss possible career options until you try them out. Research different companies and vocations online by visiting websites and reading job ads. Also, put the word out to everyone you know that you’re looking to broaden your horizons and go for a coffee with contacts in the industry of your consideration to find out what working there is really like. Ask companies to intern one day per week so you get invaluable first-hand experience of the daily workings of a role. Also, be open to opportunities to upskill, especially in the digital or technical space. If you are considering an entirely new career or an evolution on a current one, distance education can be a flexible and appealing option to grow within an industry without putting your life on hold.

Finally, get to know yourself, ask for feedback and keep growing in the areas that you need. Begin with a personality test such a Myers-Briggs or ask close friends and even past peers for feedback about how they see you.

The path from confusion to career clarity is simply to focus on what you love, explore what you’re fascinated by and refine what you’re good at. Eventually, a way forward will reveal itself -so leave your front door safe in the knowledge that with these tools, even if you get lost, the joy is finding your way back.


Alina Berdichevsky is a personal branding coach and regular contributor to the Open Colleges Careers blog. When shes not writing about leadership, communication and success, she loves reading about inspiring women in history, working on her soufflé and of course – perfecting an inner zen.

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