What do I do next?

I hear this question all the time from people who either hate their job, have just left their job, or were laid off from their job (which happens more often than you might think).

What now?

I am a big believer in giving yourself options and expecting the best while preparing for the worst. When I hear that 62% of Americans have less than $1000 saved and 29% of millenials (my generation!) have nothing in their savings accounts (source for both stats), I get very nervous.

I generally tend to think that good things happen to people. Maybe that’s a sign of my privilege, but I am surprised time and time again at the goodness of humanity. And when bad things happen, I have been amazed at how friends will often step in to help, like my friend going through a messy custody battle who needed $20k to pay lawyers to keep his son away from his crazy ex and within 24 hours had raised it. That’s powerful.

When applied to career and I hear this question about “what next?”, I often ask where that is coming from. What do they want out of life? Why are they thinking about it? Are they unhappy at their job and want to make a change? Would they rather have a different lifestyle (remote working, vagabonding, living elsewhere) that their current job or career choice will not allow them to do within a timeline that satisfied them?

The reasons people ask it vary, and I really hope that you don’t have to go through the questioning because you just lost your job, but if you do then I want you to ask a different question:

What do I want to do next?

What is that voice in the back of your head that has been slowing getting louder and might now feel like a banging drum inside your head? What does your gut tell you when you think about taking a new job (mine got physically queasy when I thought about it, which is part of why I decided to work for myself) or going back to something in your same career?

When you finally stop and are quiet (and hopefully you received a severance if you got laid off so you have at least a week to breathe before the “how am I going to pay the bills?” anxiety creeps into your throat), what is your unconscious telling you? Where is that voice inside you and where is it to be found, and where is it pointing?

From talking to quite a few people since I published my Got Laid Off post back in January, I have never found a person who doesn’t have an idea of what to pursue to make them happ(ier) long term. Sometimes it’s a bit more general (“I want to work for myself”), sometimes it’s quite specific (“I’ve been working on this idea on the side and want to give it a fulltime go for a while”), but there is always something that you are passionate about that you want to pursue for a while.

And honestly, maybe that “something” is that you truly love your job and career and want to continue doing that, so you want to go back and get another job. I applaud that, because you are being true to yourself.

So remember, ask yourself “What do I want to do next?”, then go do that.

Remember the Howard Thurman quote:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

About me: I’m the founder of Credo, a marketplace connecting businesses with the best digital marketing consultants and agencies. I’m a growth marketer by profession, though increasingly just identifying as an entrepreneur. In my spare time I explore Northern California and the world with my wife and our black labrador Butterbean. Hobbies include coffee, rock climbing, cycling, skiing, and hiking/camping. I want to hike the John Muir Trail while we still live in California.

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