From Confusion to Clarity: How I Designed a Career I Love

Tell me if this sounds familiar -- You’re somewhere in the range of 25-35 years old and have been cranking away at a career or a job that is not what you planned or is no longer what you want. Panic is setting in...

Now what?

This can be a lonely and confusing time, with a lot of self-doubt and psychological / emotional self-punishment. But it doesn’t have to be! This is not your fault.

Over half of Americans are unhappy at work. While this is a distressing number, it shows that we are not alone in wanting more satisfaction out of how we spend 40+ hours a week. But with such staggering numbers, how do we avoid falling into that trap? More importantly, how do we pry ourselves out of it after we’ve fallen in?

A Familiar Story…

I fell into that trap -- a job that started out great, with tons of positive feedback and upward mobility. Over 4 years, 5 bosses and 3 role changes, both my enthusiasm and the opportunities for growth dwindled. I was stuck, unhappy, and just going through the motions. I knew the career path wasn’t for me, but that was the type of work my experience and skills prepared me for. I felt trapped.

I saw three major impediments: time, lack of skills, and lack of direction. After two years of being overwhelmed, confused and reclusive, I knew that I needed to take action -- despite my lifelong fear of choosing the wrong path.

Having a basic understanding of the tech field, I dipped my toe in further by taking free coding and design classes. This provided a solid, relevant skill set that is in high demand and pays well. I figured that even if I didn’t like it, the knowledge gained would be useful in my work.

After several months, I still only had a minimal understanding of the concepts, but was enjoying the material. I decided to step it up and put my money where my mouth is by signing up for paid classes in several coding languages and visual design.

I quickly realized that understanding and classes alone would not get me where I wanted to be. I needed a change of mindset. So I started looking for career change resources. After considering several career coaches, I came across Mission Collaborative through a local DC newsletter.

A New Hope…

My time with Mission Collaborative provided me with three critical tools that are esse