No One Knows What They Want To Do: Don’t Worry About Traditional Career Paths

Have you ever felt lost or directionless because you didn’t have a set career path in mind? It turns out more people are unhappy with their work than you realize, including people who pursued the traditional idea of what an American career is. Feeling drained at work, passionless about what you do, and lost in the shuffle is a terrible way to live. How can you fix it?

Find Flexibility in What You Do

Once upon a time, you got a job with a company and stayed with that company until you retired, or so the story goes. While that narrative was never as true as our parents like to make it sound, it was a far more common work style then than it is now. Frankly, the idea of committing to one company, or even to one career path, doesn’t sit well with a lot of women in their late 20s. Freedom to grow into new roles and pursue new career paths is valuable.

If you can’t commit to one single job or even one industry, you’re not alone. Instead, try focusing on a skill you’d like to develop, or a group of people you’d like to help. That focus gives you a first step and helps you figure out where to look for a job. This job only has to be for right now. It’s common now to switch companies several times throughout a career. You’re not finding the right fit for the rest of your life; you’re finding the next stepping stone on your path.

Discover Which Hours Suit Your Lifestyle


No One Knows What They Want To Do: Don't Worry About Traditional Career Paths

The 9-to-5 schedule, which is really 8-to-5 when you factor in that unpaid lunch hour, doesn’t suit everyone. You may hate getting up early, or you may love being at work on the weekends and free during the week when stores and streets are far less busy. Corporate America runs on that Monday-through-Friday daytime schedule, but you don’t have to. Let go of the idea that a “real” job has these set hours. Plenty of people with valid careers work nights and weekends, set their own hours, or change schedules every week.

In fact, given what else you have going on, a 9-to-5 job might be the worst thing for you. Doing freelance work or engaging in part-time work gives you the flexibility to pursue other paths, go back to school, or arrange your schedule to make caring for your children easier. Even something as simple as being at your most productive at 6 in the morning should factor into the hours you prefer to work.

Seek Meaning Instead of a Career

Even people who go to school, get a degree, and land a dream job shortly after graduation find themselves falling into career ruts. The cause? Meaning. Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace found that a shocking 70 percent of workers are “not engaged” at work. Apathetic and disengaged workers cost the business world hundreds of billions of dollars every year, and this disengagement takes a toll on each of these workers’ lives.

Psychologists have discovered that the people who feel the happiest and most connected with their jobs derive a sense of meaning. How do you do that? It’s an individual thing. Figure out what you care about, whether it’s animals, writing, law, taxes, or fashion. Work to steer your career in that direction.

Get out of the Office Space

Sometimes finding meaningful work means eschewing the traditional job for something else. Start your own restaurant business. Become an independent contractor and go between salons doing hair styling. Begin a career with Amway selling health and beauty products. Look outside the office, because your career path might not be in a corporate building. This is how to take control of your job and your life. The old adage is true: money doesn’t buy happiness. Meaning is your best bet.

Traditional career paths don’t suit a lot of people. Take a few days to soul-search and discover what drives you and what gives you meaning. You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself. This is your job and your life, after all.

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