10 ways to work out what you want next in your career

Sep 21, 2023

What do you want? If I could only ask one question when coaching a client, this would be it. Because it’s the question most people struggle to answer!

Whether it’s figuring out WHAT you want next in your career — or HOW to get there, finding clarity is the number one problem I support people with.

So in today’s article, I’m unpacking this topic further.

This post is the second in the ’40 under 40′ series. Kicking off in September, I’m sharing the 40 best pieces of career advice I’ve collected over the years. This is in honour of my 10 years in business — and a certain milestone birthday this month!

Part 1 of the series focused on my top ten mindset tips to help you create confidence in your career.

In Part 2, I’m sharing some strategies to support you to find clarity in your career. You’ll walk away with practical tips to figure out your direction — and create the career you want!


Career clarity comes from the ‘inside out’. Back in my corporate career, I drove myself to reach the next sales target, financial result or promotion, was constantly stressed and exhausted. I looked at the ‘successful’ people around me and followed their example.

Then, I started my own business because I wanted more freedom and balance — but 5 years in, I had none. I struggled with stress, anxiety and burnout in my business as I had in my corporate career. My identity was tied up in work and I lacked a clear purpose behind the work I was doing.

This is because I was starting from the ‘outside in’ — or striving to reach someone else’s version of success. As a result, I spent the better part of me career working towards what I thought I ‘should’ be doing.

Through my clients and own experience, biggest lesson I’ve learnt is this: Figuring out the right career goals starts from the ‘inside out’. Because YOU have all the right answers within you. When you start from the ‘inside out’, you will find true fulfillment at work — and create sustainable career success.


Finding clarity in your career starts by redefining what success means to YOU. The past few years have tested the belief a traditional career path is ‘safe’ and certain jobs secure. One theme I’ve seen emerge is people questioning the dominant view of what success looks like.

As I shared above, this was one of the main motivators to shift my career and business to coaching high-achievers at a career crossroads. Redefining success is a constant process of clarifying and doubling down on what I want and letting go of what I don’t. It’s also what’s ignited my passion to support others to do the same!

Remember, success looks different to every person — and doesn’t always mean a promotion, leadership or more responsibility. It’s important to consider your current commitments, lifestyle goals and life stage. Because when you redefine what success means to you, you will get unstuck and clarify your direction.


I believe in a world where you get to create a career, on your terms. One where you don’t follow the path which is laid out in front of you — or think is expected of you — but design your own.

What if you let go of the hard work and hustle? What if you stopped trying to fit your life around your work, to mould yourself to your job and instead, chose to create a career aligned to YOU? One which has impact and meaning, is financially rewarding and supports your lifestyle.

What if you embraced a new way of working, by deciding to design your career, your way? This is my mission. Why I do what I do.

This shift in perspective has supported me to clarify my direction — and help hundreds of clients figure out what they want next in their careers too. Because when you believe you can create your career, your way, what you want becomes crystal clear.


Are you going down the Google rabbit hole expecting your dream career to reveal itself to you? Or scrolling job sites or LinkedIn hoping your ideal job will jump out at you? While self-reflection is important, the search for clarity can lead many people to get stuck in ‘research mode’.

Analysis paralysis occurs because your brain wants to protect you and keep you safe. But as Marie Forleo says, ‘clarity comes through action, not thought’. When you take practical steps to explore different pathways and test out your career ideas, you will find clarity in your career!


As a high-achiever, I’ll bet you’re a master at weighing up the pros and cons of a situation. If you’re more Type A — like many of my clients and I — you may also lead with logic when making decisions. But the downside is, we tend to dismiss our desires as unrealistic or put our dreams on hold out of fear.

To find clarity in your career, it’s critical to check in with your heart, as well as your head. Sometimes things don’t make sense on paper — they feel right. This doesn’t mean taking unnecessary risks — rather, testing and validating your ideas to create clarity and certainty.

When you listen to your head as well as your heart, you will always find clarity.


To clarify what you want next in your career, you first need to see what’s possible. Because your brain shows you what it knows and has experienced. This is the function of the Reticular Activating System (RAS), the part of the brain which controls the information you receive.

If your circle consists of people you’ve studied or worked with, you may not believe it’s possible to pursue a different career path. After all, you don’t know people doing the things you long to do! When you get curious and follow what lights you up, you will give your brain the evidence it needs to see what’s possible.


Going round in circles trying to find clarity on your career direction? Does it seem like everyone else knows exactly what they’re working towards — except you? 99.9% of the time, my clients can define what they don’t want.

Here’s a simple exercise I take them through to find clarity: Create a ‘don’t’ list — and look at the opposite to clarify what you DO want. The fastest way to determine what you DO want, is to ask yourself what you DON’T want.


A client came to me feeling frustrated, dissatisfied in her work and questioning what she wanted next in her career. Through coaching, we discovered she was spending a lot of time and energy focused on the things she believed she ‘lacked’. What others around her were good at, which she found difficult to master.

Instead, she started to understand, own and develop her strengths — and let go of her weaknesses. This gave her clarity around the work she’s naturally good at and allowed her to design her career around this. When you leverage your strengths, rather than focusing on ‘fixing’ your weaknesses, clarity comes.


Know it’s time to make a change — but there’s a lot at risk? You’re anxious about throwing away the time, money and energy invested into your current career. Not to mention, terrified of failing.

I was a decade into my career and had built a successful business when I decided to transition into coaching. It took many months to summon the courage to make this change — and I felt these fears every step of the way. But for me, life’s short and the regret of not making a change far outweighed the risks.

So many people stay stuck in a career which no longer fits and believe they have to ‘make it work’. Please know it’s NEVER too late to pivot. If something isn’t working in your career, it’s completely possible to change it!

Because when you choose calculated risks over regret, you will clarify your direction and create the career you want.


Applied for a new job — but not sure it’s what you want? Or gone through an entire interview process and received an offer — then realised, it’s not the right fit? You think your current position is the problem and finding a new role will ‘fix’ it.

But here’s the truth. Immediately searching for a job is an external, ‘bandaid’ solution. You haven’t got to the root cause of the issue or figured out what you want.

To figure out what you want next in your career, you need to focus on solving the right problem. Otherwise, the same issues will follow you to your next position. When you concentrate on the right problem, you will find clarity in your career.

So there you have it, my top ten tips to find clarity in your career. These strategies have helped my clients and I find direction and create the careers we want. I hope they support you too!

Want help to find clarity on your career direction? 

Click HERE to book a free 30 minute consult and find out how coaching with me can support you!

Stacey Back is a globally recognised and certified Career + Leadership Coach. She helps high-achievers at a career crossroads find the work that lights them up, increase their income, impact and create a career + life on their terms. Stacey works virtually with individuals and organisations based across the globe.