This is the first part in a 3 part blog series on Career Pivotal Moments - What they are, how to recognise them and what to do about them.
Why it matters is that you can’t navigate pivotal moments just like any other career crossroads. It is not as simple as getting your CV together and calling up a headhunter.
What My Pivotal Moment was Like...
At my career pivotal moment, I was a successful lawyer in the City of London. I thought I had made it. I had ticked all the right boxes of success. I had the great career, the very nice salary, the lovely apartment, the right lawyer boyfriend. I should have felt happy and fulfilled. But I wasn’t. Underneath it all I had this nagging feeling that something was missing. I just couldn’t work out what that was.
It made no sense. I tried to ignore the feeling that something was not quite right. I kept thinking ‘maybe it is just a little bit of stress and it will just go away’ or ‘maybe if I work harder I will get over it’. But it wasn’t going away. It was like this thing that was bubbling up inside of me. The more I pushed it away, the more the feeling grew. Of course I could distract myself for short periods... but in the end it always came back.
I wondered whether I should change law firms - maybe to somewhere less high profile where I could have more work life balance. But deep down I knew it wasn’t the full answer. I could feel this voice deep inside me whispering ‘is this it?’, ‘is this the life you really want?’, ‘haven’t you forgotten something?' I felt lost, confused and didn’t really know what to do. So I did nothing hoping the feeling would go away.
Little did I know that I was at a pivotal moment - that this was my wake up call. That I was being asked to take a hard look at my life and what I was doing with it. And that however much I tried to avoid it it would eventually catch up with me.
So how can you know if you are at a career pivotal moment? Here are the signs…
Sign 1 - A nagging feeling, major event or a particular age
Although, a pivotal moment usually creeps up on you. It can also be triggered by an event which 'shakes’ you up - such as an illness, being made redundant, a bad experience at work or the death of someone close.
What happens is that it makes you question things. You start to ask deeper questions about life and work - what is really important to you and what you want to do with your life.
Certain ages are more linked to career pivotal moments - around 28, 56, 42, 70 and 84. It usually starts two years before and goes on for a couple of years after the ‘pivotal’ age.
Sign 2 - Successful, but something missing
Usually you are successful on the outside. You have been busy ticking the ‘traditional boxes of success’. Such as getting the right career, the right salary, the right car, the right home, the right partner.
Despite all of that, you feel that something is missing. But you are not sure what. You have this nagging feeling that something is not quite right. But you can’t quite put your finger on what that feeling is really about.
Sign 3 - Unmotivated and Exhausted
You try the usual things like go on holiday, go out a bit more or work harder. But somehow the feeling stays. You are not so motivated. You have less energy than you used to. You start to notice that you kind of feel tired all the time and start to wonder if maybe you are burning out.
You try to distract yourself. But it is like all the things you usually do to feel better don’t work anymore. They don’t lift you up in the same way. It is like life has lost some of its shine.
Sign 4 - Daydream about making a more drastic change
So you think that maybe you just need a bit of a change. You wonder about changing jobs. Maybe that will do the trick. And so that is what you do. Everything is all right for a little while and then the feeling comes back.
You start to daydream about more drastic things - maybe it is time to go travelling, to take a sabbatical, to do a career change, to start your own business, to go back to school and study something new.
But that all feels kind of scary and you are not even sure it will make you feel better. You end up not knowing what to do and doing nothing.
Sign 5 - Wonder what your life purpose is
After a while you realise that you are actually feeling lost.
And you start to ask yourself:’Is this it?’,
Suddenly you wonder: ‘Why am I really here?’, ‘What is my life purpose?’, ‘should I change career?'
Or...‘What am I really here to do?’, ‘What should I do with my life?'
These are generally the signs that you are at a Career Pivotal Moment. So how are you doing - do you have this nagging feeling that something is missing? Has something happened that is making you question things? Are you trying to distract yourself? Are you pushing the feeling down? Or are you ready to find out what is really going on?
In my next blog, I will cover what pivotal moments are really about and how they are in fact a wake up call.
Until next time,
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