What To Do When You're Confused About Your Career Path

Updated July 22, 2022

While changing jobs and forging a new path may seem intimidating, doing so can help you gain more professional satisfaction and fulfillment in your career. However, making a shift in your career can sometimes result in feelings of uncertainty, confusion and insecurity about your professional abilities, interests and needs.

If you're looking to change careers but are feeling confused about your direction, it may be helpful for you to review strategies for determining your professional goals and transitioning into a new career effectively. In this article, we offer a guide for changing careers when you feel confused and provide tips for success.

Related: 9 Steps To Change Your Career Path at Any Age

How to change careers when you feel confused

Feeling confused about your career path can be a challenging experience, and figuring out what's best for you as a professional may require a significant amount of time and effort. The steps you take to change your career may differ depending on your current position, level of experience, education and aspirations. With this, though, there are a few key actions you can take to identify your professional needs and interests so you can make the shift toward a more fulfilling role. Here's a step-by-step guide to changing your career when you feel confused:

1. Take time off to determine your path

If you're currently working, consider resigning or taking time off to determine your new path. It's often challenging to focus on a career change while working in your current role. Having the space and time to think freely about your needs, goals and interests as a professional can benefit you as you make a career shift.

Related: 12 Steps To Make a Career Change With No Experience

2. Consider the type of activities you enjoy

As you begin thinking about your new career path, consider what activities or hobbies you enjoy. You may be able to turn your favorite activities into a career and transfer your skills. For example, if you like to write creatively in your spare time, you may be able to find opportunities to work as a freelance writer.

3. Visit a career resource center

While you examine your interests, you may also benefit from visiting a career resource center and meeting with a counselor. At a career resource center, you can find information about different careers and the training or education that can prepare you for them. In addition, a career counselor may be able to help you determine your strengths, solidify your goals and suggest suitable career paths.

Related: 11 Steps To Take if You're Unsure of Your Career Path

4. Take a personality test

As you research career possibilities, consider taking a personality test. These assessments may help you identify your professional preferences, strengths and working style. From here, you can analyze what career paths are common for individuals with your personality type and gain a better understanding of how you can fit into a field that interests you.

5. Conduct informational interviews

Once you have an idea of the field you want to join, you can conduct informational interviews with other professionals currently working in that field. Through these interviews, you can find out what these professionals do each day, the skills they use in their roles, how much they enjoy their positions and what their career trajectories are. From this information, you may be able to gain important insight that can help you narrow your career search.

Related: Job Cast: 6 Steps to a Successful Career Change

6. Consider a shadowing experience

With a more definitive idea of what types of roles you might want to pursue, you can take part in shadowing experiences to better understand if a career path is right for you. Through these opportunities, you can observe professionals in their roles and learn about their day-to-day duties. This can help you gain clarity and decide whether a prospective position fits your needs and interests.

7. Seek additional education or professional development

Once you reach a decision about the type of role you want to pursue, consider the qualifications you need to jumpstart your career. You may need to seek additional training, professional development or education to be eligible for the role that interests you. Through these opportunities, you can build your skill set, explore your new field and position yourself professionally.

Related: 7 Things To Do When You Can't Decide on a Career

Tips for when you feel confused about your career change

When you feel confused about your professional life, making a career shift can seem intimidating, even with a wide variety of strategies available to help you determine your goals and optimize your job search. It's important that you understand your priorities as a candidate and maintain a healthy perspective while changing jobs. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when undergoing this process so you can preserve your mental well-being and personal sense of self:

  • Keep an open mind. Throughout your career change process, try to be open-minded by unpacking your preconceptions and seriously considering all the possibilities available to you. This can help you explore career options that you may have otherwise overlooked.

  • Let your values guide your search. Even if you don't know exactly what you want to do in your career, it's likely that you have professional and personal values that you can prioritize in your search. Think about what type of work-life balance you're seeking and how much stability you need to find a career that allows you to live a fulfilling life.

  • Overcome uncertainty. Making a shift in your career can cause feelings of fear and uncertainty. Try to do your best to overcome these feelings by challenging yourself to take on obstacles, so you can achieve the professional and personal growth necessary to find a satisfying career.

  • Trust your instincts and be kind to yourself. While you determine your professional goals, interests and needs, try to be kind to yourself and trust the process. Keep in mind that it may take a significant amount of time and effort for you to find a role that suits you so that you don't get discouraged.

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