The Truth Behind Your Career Daydream: What Is Your Gut Telling You?

Have you ever considered making a life-changing career decision, only to hold yourself back and stick with what is most comfortable? Like you, I’ve occasionally found myself in this holding pattern that I like to call career purgatory. However, perhaps due to my experience as a management and career coach, I’ve learned to listen to these thoughts and reflect upon the fear that is holding me back.

Personally, I try to live by the motto that if a goal doesn’t scare you a little bit (sometimes a lot), then it probably isn’t big enough. So, I’m excited to tell you that this week, I decided to throw my hat into the ring as a job seeker. I’ve officially embarked upon a frightening quest to climb the next rung on my own career ladder.

Although I get a lot of fulfillment out of my career as a human resources management consultant, there has been a reoccurring daydream that I’ve been ignoring for the past year. This thought has included a desire to transition out of consulting and join one organization as an employee which is exactly how I began the first 10 years of my career. However this time, I’ve been dreaming about stepping into a position as a member of the executive team at a high-performing organization that shares my passion for developing employees and driving results by setting the success bar very high, and treating every employee like an owner.

Throughout my journey, I will write about topics that may help others who are experiencing the same highs and lows of an intense job search and career change. This week, I want to share my insights from the perspective of someone who has made a career of advising others throughout their career transition, only to now be going through the same process.

It’s normal to be scared.

Once you commit to publically proclaiming your desire to make a career change, it’s normal to experience a moment of panic in the realization that you are now “all in.” Your once-private fantasies of a career change are now known to others who will be asking you how your search is going. It’s similar to the feeling you get when you decide to announce that you are trying to lose weight. You realize that loved ones will be excited to check in on your progress, and you don’t want to be labeled a failure by getting caught in the fast-food drive-thru. Now that I’ve declared my decision to look for a new career opportunity, I know my friends, family, longtime clients and column readers will be curious about my progress. I’ll use this as a motivator not to let anyone down by making half-hearted progress. I’m scared. However, I’m all in so I know it will be ok.

There is something behind your desire for a change.

At face value, an outsider could simply perceive a career change as your attempt to make more money or gain an impressive title. However, when I decided to listen to my reoccurring daydream and stop passing it off as silly, I came to a realization. As I dissected what it was that I was really looking for, some common themes kept creeping up. I was longing to find one company that I could call my career home so I could develop and cultivate professional relationships. I was looking for an opportunity to make a measurable difference by using my expertise to align business strategy with people and systems. I was looking for a chance to lead the development process of an entire workforce into a highly engaged, innovative and goal-oriented work family. As a consultant, it’s hard to establish as deep of a relationship and measure as clear of an impact than when you have one company to call home. I am not looking for another job. I am looking for my next “home.”

Some things are worth the wait.

Like anything in life, the higher the standards, the longer the wait to reap the reward. My next career home is out there, and I’m not going to lose sight of what I identified when reflecting upon what is really behind my desire for a change. Therefore, I am prepared to work hard until I land where I am meant to make the biggest difference. It might take longer than I prefer, but I will remain faithful.

Listen to your gut and stay true to what it is telling you about your career.

Elizabeth P. Cipolla, SPHR is a business communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for nearly 15 years. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at