An Unfulfilling Career? 5 Questions To Start Your Career Shift

The German version of this article on your career shift got published by femtastics, the German online magazine for fempower. To read the article in German, see here


It creeps up ever so slowly inside of you, this dull feeling in your stomach. The feeling of being unfulfilled in your job. At first you dismiss it, surely this is only just a phase. You try to distract yourself, you work extra long hours and meet up with your friends but it’s a vain endeavour. This feeling is persistent and never mind what you undertake, you simply don’t get rid of it. 


This feeling is your intuition. The immediate realisation that something in your career is amiss. 


Most often when someone starts to feel unfulfilled with their career it is caused by a mismatch in the actual work and the person’s values. 


For example, you highly value creativity yet your job consists of building excel charts 8 hours a day – it is no wonder that your intuition starts to speak up. After all, we want to realise our values in our jobs, too, and our intuition serves as a valuable compass to do so.


‘Why am I actually doing this?’


You now regularly catch yourself asking yourself at work ‘Why am I actually doing this?’. You don’t have an answer on hand and the whole situation becomes more and more burdensome for you. Deep inside you know that you’ve got a whole lot of potential and you finally want to unleash it in a way that is meaningful to you. 


Increasingly, this is how many people feel. A study of the First Direct Bank in England shows that an astonishing 6 in 10 millennials (born between 1980-1995) find themselves in a quarter-life crisis. 


The professional crisis as an opportunity


This professional crisis, which now and then feels uncomfortable and intimidating, can at the same time be seen as a great opportunity. An opportunity to take back control over the steering wheel and correct the course. 


When seen from this perspective, one does not have to resist the current situation as much and accepting the situation becomes possible. This is a good premise to be able to start defining the next career steps with calm. 


These 5 questions can help you plan your next career step:


1 – What is triggering my dissatisfaction? 

It is important to know what exactly it is that leaves you unfulfilled at work. Is it the scope of your role? A lack of flexibility, discretion or creativity? The colleagues? The commute? Have a think about the precise causes and write them down. 


2 – What does success mean for me? 

Oftentimes we are in a certain job or industry because, at the time we started, it felt right. Possibly it even measured up to the expectations of the family or enabled a certain status. However, we change over time and perhaps now we realise that we have been living the success definition of other people, or we realise that our own priorities have changed. The meaning of success is diverse. Success can exist outside of the traditional job ladder thinking and can encompass self-actualisation, daring new things or working on multiple projects. What is your very own and up-to-date definition of success? 


3 – What do I greatly enjoy doing? 

Maybe you find yourself in the midst of a professional crisis and you are not quite sure yet what your next step will be. The only thing you know for sure is that something has to change. In this case it is very helpful to think about the exact tasks one enjoys doing, at work and outside of work. There is no right or wrong, just get started with a rough and unfiltered brainstorm! 


4 – How do I envision my life in 5 years? 

Rarely do we reflect how we want our lives to look like in the next 3,5 and 10 years. Having a vision, however, can bring immense clarity. How do you envision your next decade, professionally and personally? 


5 – Which three realistic goals can I set today?

Based on your vision, what are three realistic goals that you can set yourself today? What can you do today, tomorrow, and next week to move one step closer to the realisation of your goals? 




With the 5 questions in this article, you can gain more clarity about your next career steps. During this process, trust your intuition. The feeling of discontentment might at first be uncomfortable, yet it also triggers a process that opens up new possibilities ahead of you.