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5 Mistakes You Make When You Don’t Know What You Want to Do Next

By | Lea McLeod |

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten a call from a client in a career conundrum. He doesn’t know what kind of job he wants. He doesn’t know what he wants to do. He’s not sure what his passion is. He’s overwhelmed. Lost. So, he’s thinking of taking the path of least resistance. If you’ve ever uttered the phrase, “Maybe I’ll go back to school. Law school. Grad school, yeah…” you know what path I’m talking about.

If you aren’t sure what you want to do, taking a detour on the highway that is your career is tempting. But without forethought and intention, that detour can be costly, painful—or both.

If you’re still trying to figure out what your golden career path is, you can start by asking yourself these nine questions. In the meantime, here are five missteps to avoid.

1. Taking an Interim Job Doing Anything

Taking a job, any at a, may serve a short-term need; it’ll give you something to do all day and help you pay the bills. But it’ll also probably suck all the time and energy you could be using searching for that dream career. Moreover, by keeping you firmly employed and in your comfort zone, it won’t push you to explore options that would be a much better fit for you.

Unless you’re desperate for a paycheck and anxious to get out of a bad situation—terrible boss, bullying co-workers, unhealthy work environment—latching onto something random won’t help you identify and land your dream role.

2. Going Back to Grad School

When clients call saying they don’t know what to do, and they’re thinking of going back to grad school, I get all up in their face about it. In a nice way, of course. If graduate school involves going into debt (which it typically does), or if there isn’t a clearly delineated career outcome, I’m against it. I know too many people buried in school-loan debt and no idea what to do with their expensive degrees.

Unless you have a very clear understanding of how grad school will further your career goals, unless you’re 100% certain it will land you the job of your dreams, don’t make this costly, often uninformed mistake. The job-search process doesn’t disappear when you emerge with another degree.

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