Explore 5 signposts for finding your “happy ever after.”

In the hum of the busy office, with the glows of the screens surrounding her, Emily sat, trying to concentrate on the work she knew was expected of her. Her mind wandered; she was finding it difficult to focus. Emily understood she could blame her surroundings but also knew, in truth, it wasn’t that. 

Ever since the pandemic, she has been a hybrid worker, so she has options and flexibility she can readily use. The role she has now is one that she’s worked hard for, and her daily routine is familiar enough. It might be down to complacency or her new boss, but it feels more than that. So, what was up? She feels a sense of restlessness stirring around inside of her. With a furrowed brow and a contemplative gaze, she knows that she’s teetering on the edge of a career crossroads.

Emily’s instinct tells her she has choices to make. But where to start?

Like many people I work with, Emily’s story is not uncommon. Some have change forced on them, circumstances may have altered, others are trying to escape an unhappy routine, or some have commitments that give them little room for manoeuvring. 

We know that life isn’t a fairy tale and that we don’t have a magic wand; however, the big question that hangs over many of us is—how do we make the most of the time we have on this earth? Because, at the end of the day, time is one of our most precious luxuries after health. 

As a personal effectiveness coach, I have listened to many stories and seen similar recurring themes. Today, I share what I’ve learned and helps others move from feeling stuck and unfulfilled to creating their personal version of “happy ever after”. 

What means the most? – Taking the time to reflect on our interests, strengths, values, and the impact we want to make on the world is the first step. Understanding ourselves is crucial to choosing a path that resonates with who you are and results in a greater sense of purpose. Done well, it leads to crafting a profoundly personal and meaningful plan that uniquely suits your moment in time.  

Exploring Options – No matter the stage we are at, there are vital ingredients that we all must consider. Whether building or developing our skills, we should all invest our energy into continuous learning, sometimes unlearning, and preparing ourselves to align with our changing world. Making sure our plan is based on a reasoned and solid foundation means we make sound choices when organising and prioritising all the elements of work-life and wellbeing. 

Team You – Although the future largely depends on what we do in the present, a lot depends on the support network you surround yourself with. Focus on efforts to develop a ‘team you’ circle of champions that will help you evolve and overcome potential blind spots. A disorganised approach is a trap that must be avoided at all costs. Becoming deliberate about who and where your valuable guidance and encouragement sources come from is a must. Change can be hugely uncomfortable, so our energy and who we surround ourselves with should directed wisely. Fostering positive relationships helps us tap into wisdom and keeps us motivated. But remember, your ‘team you’ often differs from what you expect.

Set the Pace – Whether you are already on your way or just getting started, we all feel better when we believe we are making progress. It is essential to set clear and achievable goals. Create a roadmap that helps you envisage your path and milestones. Progress is usually complex. At times, we encounter hold-ups and even the doldrums. It’s important to remember that this is normal for everyone and that while keeping our forward momentum is instrumental to our success, so is maintaining our overall wellbeing. So, commit to the same care and attention given to career goals, and be sure to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Rest and rejuvenation contribute significantly to a healthy work-life balance.

Check-Ups –Just as we must be proactive and regularly check our physical health, we should stay open to gauging our career progress. Asking ourselves simple questions about how we’re evolving and what elements give us a sense of fulfilment should become part of our self-directed appraisal system. Nothing stays the same. There will be twists, turns and even roadblocks. Therefore, cultivating a mindset that makes flexibility our friend enhances our ability to remain open to ideas, stay the course, grow and pivot towards our own personal definition of “happy ever after”.  

Whatever your circumstances, finding oneself at a career crossroads is often fraught with a mixture of opposing thoughts, anxiety and trepidation. While it may feel isolating, we should all take comfort in the fact that it is rare to find another person who hasn’t walked a similar path. Gaining clarity and practising the steps I’ve shared will help your confidence enormously. Time may be fleeting, but the impact of our choices, habits and actions stays with us beyond the confines of the present moment. 

We, therefore, owe it to ourselves to have a familiar route that helps us shape and steer our journey. Imagine having an empowering sense of control at other crossroads. Rather than feelings of trepidation, we instead can experience a mixture of hope and excitement when we enter each new chapter of our life story.  

Susan De Fazio 

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