Career counseling: 5 Reasons for difficulties in your career search

by: Kris Kirilova

Kris is a counselor & owner of Career Life Choices – a counseling practice in Arlington Heights, IL.

Many people seek career counseling because they feel confused about finding a career that fits their true self, interests, and values. You may be clear on some aspects of your desired career but completely confused on others. You may be researching occupations online, doing personality tests, and talking to family and friends but still missing other important pieces of your career search.

Here are 5 reasons you may be stuck in finding a fulfilling career path. While reading all the reasons, think about what is stopping you, causing confusion, or delaying your decision.

  1. Lack of Self-awareness

Many people have lost sense of who they  are, what is the meaning of work in their life or have not done enough self-discovery to better understand their preferences. It is important to know your strengths, passions, and areas of vulnerability. Have you been in the same job for many years? Then, you need to recall your greatest talents, accomplishments, and special abilities. What gives you energy and keeps you engaged for long periods of time? What sections of the bookstore do you spend most often? What accomplishments do you feel most proud of?

Next –> Do you know how to connect your interests to careers: Do you understand how your interests and motivations impact your career options? crossroads-decisionCrystallizing who you really are, your interests, and values will help you find meaningful work.

2. Self-limiting Beliefs

Another obstacles might be your beliefs, attitude, and self-esteem. How do you view yourself? You may be lacking self-confidence in your abilities to undertake a new career path or re-invent yourself. May be you are burned out or failed once or twice, and you feel that you don’t have what it takes to succeed. You may be keeping your options limited only to certain careers because you are not comfortable leaving your comfort zone. You may find it challenging to do networking and informational interviews with people outside of your network.

Next –>Address your current beliefs, thinking and challenges before you start searching for a new career path or making a change. Embrace who you are, develop your strengths, not your weaknesses, and find some support while you figure out your next step.

3. Internal Conflict

Sometimes, there might be a personal conflict of some type in making a career choice. If you feel pulled in different directions, you may need to think about integrating your interests.  May be you’re trying to combine two different passions into one career – technology and creativity, and there are limited career options. May be you are considering too many career options which require education or skills that you don’t possess. Another issue might be a conflict in values – you may desire to make a lot of money in a field that does not pay well.

A helpful exercise is to invite all ‘characters’ to speak about their interests and voice concerns to help you integrate your vision or seek the help of a counselor or mentor.

4. External Conflict

Is your family or significant other trying to influence your decision? Do they have perfect careers in mind for you? Are you trying to please them? Some people have disagreements with significant others about their their career – life path.  They might be trying to balance their own interests with the recommendations of others – peers, advisors, family members…

You may need to consider your family’s expectations and needs in your career search. Even though most people in the American culture have freedom to make their own choices, your family has some influence on your values and attitude toward work. How much weight do you put on your interests, passions, and values versus external factors such as your family needs? Balancing these two components may be critical to finding work satisfaction.

5. Lack of knowledge about career options 

Another missing piece that might be holding you back is not enough information about occupations or a way to get additional information. May be you lack information, good mentors and support about the careers you have in mind. Part of career discovery is doing research – online, in the library and connecting with professionals, working in your chosen field.  A great way to learn about occupations is to do informational interviews, job shadowing or volunteering.  Many people are willing to provide information about their own career path, employer or work day but you have find and connect with those people.

There are multiple factors and forces that might be causing career difficulties, and you may need to look at all the pieces, separately and all together. These are the pieces of your career puzzle.  It takes courage to ask for assistance or seek career counseling so you can find clarity, insight, and direction.

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