What Are You Doing with Your Life? (And Other Dreaded Questions)

career choices The stretch between Thanksgiving and New Years is always a time for reflection on the state of one’s career. Sometimes this phenomenon is self-­induced and other times it’s forced upon us by an inquisitive friend or relative who we rarely see for the balance of the year.

“So what are you doing these days?”

“How’s that fancy college degree working out for you?”

“Have you been promoted lately?”

When one’s career is flying high, these are manageable and sometimes even welcomed questions. When your job is just a paycheck, or you dread going to work, or worse yet you are struggling to find gainful employment, family gatherings can be something you might prefer to avoid. And as we enter the holiday season, if it hasn’t already happened, it’s just a matter of time before someone corners you and asks you what you’re doing with your life…

On the flip side, the holiday stretch also allows us needed time for reflection on the important things in life: friends, family, relationships and yes, a rewarding career.

We all dream of moving up in the world at a faster pace, but in reality career success comes slower than most of us ever imagined it would. Patience is most certainly a virtue, but when it comes to your career, how do you differentiate between inching slowly forward and going nowhere fast?

When it comes to your career, how do you differentiate between inching slowly forward and going nowhere fast?

If things are moving in the right direction there are usually some common indicators you can point to:

  1. You wake up energized for the work challenges the day will bring
  2. Your tasks and responsibilities align with your natural abilities
  3. You have a clear idea of how your career will advance as you continue to prove yourself
  4. You feel valued in the work place, your feel that your efforts are making a difference
  5. You have great colleagues, engaged like you and who you collaborate well with
  6. You have a great manager, someone who gives you feedback, takes interest in your development and who isn’t threatened by your ambition

If you’re not experiencing much of the above, chances are you are on the wrong track and it’s time to consider making a change. As the years roll by with increasing momentum, and as life grows more complex, the big dreams you once envisioned begin to fade. Don’t succumb, don’t find yourself facing retirement from a lack luster career and wondering where the time went and how you lost your way.

Take some time now to reflect on your aspirations and ask yourself if you’re still on track to fulfilling your potential. If you’re not, gear up for change in the New Year. Life is short and it’s never too late.