[Note: this post was done in the context of a joint publication with other colleagues on the 10 tips to navigate your career during a pandemic". Links to other posts will be added when possible]
Once you have a fair idea of what gives you purpose, what are your core values and strengths (see all the previous tips above), you are ready to brainstorm and reflect on how you wish to 'invest' your time. Start by bearing in mind how important sleep and rest are for our overall well-being and performance, so don't sacrifice these.
However, there is an often-overwhelming range of options regarding how best to spend our remaining awaken time; if most of it is generally spent at work, there are many other ways to live a happy and full life, so consider your hobbies, leisure time, volunteer activities, etc. and how each of these can be as crucial (or even more) than our paid jobs. Indeed, today "Careers are unique to each person and are dynamic, unfolding throughout life" (Canadian Standards & Guidelines for Career Development, 2012).
This brings along transitions (whether wanted or unwanted, planned or not) that can make us face our greatest fears but might also open incredible new doors to explore. Having changed professional careers at least 3 times (or more, depending on how you count), I am fairly familiar with the frustration and the fears that may come along with it (What exactly should I do next? What will fit me better? Do I need/want to get paid for this activity? How do I achieve a balanced life? what if I choose wrong? how will I start all over again?). And the questions and self-doubt can go on and on and on...
The first tip is to be truly open to exploring all options. Even if you were a nuclear physicist before, your best next professional step could be being a teacher, a chef or a business entrepreneur. So, don't allow your previous job to limit what you can be next. Instead, build on your past experience, skills and on who you are (check the previous tips above), so you can move forward in a direction that 'feels good'. I often use some online tools to help me brainstorm and bring out options I could have not considered by myself (try the Career Explorer test, for example). Don't expect tests to fully and accurately reflect who you truly are, to give you a single answer or make decisions for you! But it really helped me come out with the 3 main professional paths/areas that could work for me (yes, we all have more than one!) and I then chose which one to try out first.
This meant that I also did not throw myself immediately into my new career; I took some time to explore it, I contacted people online and tried to talk with current practitioners about the joys and challenges of this profession, to see if I actually wanted to follow that way. Then I also did a short test, by having a few test clients, simulating what that job would be like for me and whether I would enjoy it or not. At the same time, I joined a few new groups and clubs, where I still invest some time and energy, but which give me back a great sense of contribution and belonging.
You can also ask others what they think are your strongest points, what makes you unique. Involve a few friends, family members and (former) colleagues in your 'shared brainstorming'. I got some rather unexpected - and yet obvious, in hindsight - responses when I did this; it helped me become aware of how unique some of my features are. For example, during this pandemic, I used some of my 'technical aptitude' and desire to learn new things to repurpose existing plans for live retreats into designing my very first online courses.
And remember you don't have to stick to your choices for the rest of your life; your 'perfect career' is whatever makes you feel happy at a given moment in your life. As we change and evolve, so might (and should) your career.
[THE SECTION BELOW IS STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION, as articles are still being published]
Read more about it here: