The answer is YES.
Per societal norms, traditions, subconscious beliefs, ‘wisdom’ handed down over the years by parents, or those we respect/admire or serve as role models, in your early, the mid or late thirties, you are meant to be ‘settled’, married, have a brood of children, have money stashed away, have your life figured out, have a 2nd house, know ‘definitively’ what you want in this world and be on a well-defined career trajectory etc. Eeeeerm, no, not all of us. And to be honest, I am still trying to figure some things out, especially the career one.
Growing up, we all aspired to be something. I wanted to be 3 things- either a Pilot, the Secretary-General of the United Nations (don’t laugh) or to work in National Geographic. Of course, I’m none of those things currently but I had these aspirations. As I grew up, the Pilot ambition lost its appeal to me and because I am not exactly endowed with a mathematical or scientific prowess, I decided to study a Social science course. I knew I could play to my inherent strengths in that arena coupled with my absolute love and enjoyment of humanities subjects, so I opted to study either Sociology/Geography.
I eventually settled for Geography- which was half-heartedly in line with my National Geographic and UN ambitions, but the brutality of the job market in my home country which entails 1,000 people applying for 5 jobs (no exaggerations), resulted in my childhood aspiration taking a back seat and just getting myself into the job market on the journey to become a ‘professional’.
Fast forward to 2017 and my career since 2010 has practically been in the data world where insights gained from data make things happen. It’s an interesting and evolving world and while I like this world, I felt unsettled, knowing that I was not fully certain of what my career trajectory should look like. Of course, if you asked me what my career plan was in the next 5 years, I could attempt to give you a well-thought-out ‘this-is-where-it-is-headed’ answer but deep down in my heart, I knew I wasn’t quite sure.
If you are like me, you probably don’t like being uncertain especially when it comes to something important like a career, but over time, I have come to realize that certain things are inadvertent and while it is crucial to be in control of big-ticket items such as a career, sometimes, one is never fully in control. Certain things you will have a good grasp on and other things will simply happen through providence, happenstance or plain luck (in the absence of well thought out and executed plans).
Have you ever felt lost or experienced those ‘I am uncertain‘ moments/phases, where you live life without a plan so to speak, and not because you are irresponsible or disorganised, but you just don’t know what to do? Where you have used the best career planning templates, read all the self-development books at your disposal, completed all the personality assessments and attended all the ‘motivational’ workshops that should provide that lightbulb moment but you still end up having a hazy view of certain areas of your life.
And it isn’t just about a career, it could be about being in a stable long-term relationship, being married (if that’s a priority for you), starting a family or being financially secure etc. This is hard to admit but the truth is you will not always be able to be in control of things. You will sometimes feel like you are not achieving much (as much as you’d like to), nor progressing as you’d want to, leading you to experience those unsettling feelings that make you think you are an ‘under-achiever‘. This is okay and it is normal. However, from personal experience, I can state that it is a phase, once you look inwardly, seek the clarity required and you take steps to keep on moving, not accepting your current state as final, it passes. You just keep moving, do the best you know to do with what you have, keep working hard and seeking improvements and I promise you, eventually, the dots will connect.
So, going back to my own uncertainty of what I wanted to do with my career, as much as I know what I’m good at, I needed some help with figuring out the trajectory, so guess what I did- I sought professional assistance. I booked a Career Assessment session with a highly-recommended Career Psychologist less than 2 weeks ago- one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.
My 105 minutes with this Professor was a great use of time and money. The session included personality, occupational and behavioural assessments as well as 35 minutes of open-hearted discussion between the 2 of us. Most of what he told me weren’t new to me, to be honest, but the illumination he provided has helped me make great leaps in finding the missing pieces of my career puzzle. And the good news is that I am not completely off the mark from where I currently assess myself to be (currently and in the future). I feel less confused and better empowered to navigate my career now. And while I understand that a career is not all there is to me, it is a vital piece of my life and I am going to make the best of it in the coming years. This knowledge has made me streamline my actions towards specific career goals.
So, what is the moral of my gist? It is that it’s perfectly normal to be confused and uncertain of big-ticket issues in life at any point in time, either in your 20s, early 30s, late 30s, early 40s, mid-40s etc. Your life is about you and doing what is good for you, BUT it is never too late to seek counsel or even professional assistance if required. Age should also never be a hindrance to getting things done neither should fear, embarrassment or shame.
You may not need to seek professional help like I did, although the Professor told me that 7 out of every 10 people he’s seen so far this year are all adults. Perhaps you just need to follow the process of waiting for your turn in life, or you might decide to pray or look inwardly more and ask yourself the pertinent questions, or realigning your self-inflicted pressures & expectations of yourself, or accepting your strengths and embracing your limitations, or seeking counsel from people close to you whom you trust to give you sound advice or just waiting out that certain phase, or perhaps doing all the above.
I know this is not a unique experience because I have spoken to people who have/had the same experience. Whatever you choose to do, don’t stay in the place of uncertainty, get the clarity and insights you need to keep pursuing your dreams, that’s how you’ll make progress. Make a decision to discover what makes you truly fulfilled. You have talents and skills that are unique to you- you need to make them count. Things may not be clear immediately, but your daily doggedness, willingness to put in what is required, getting out of your comfort zone, challenging yourself and consistently being your best will provide clarity in whatever aspect of your life, especially the career part.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. Till we chat again, keep shining, share this blog with your awesome tribe and remember that to get to certainty, uncertainty sometimes happens. XOXOXO
PS: If you need the contact details of the Career Psychologist I consulted, feel free to email me.
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