Let’s say that you want to reach the level of Director, or V.P. or maybe even get to a C-Level chair. As much as you say you want to follow this trajectory you have doubts. You question whether or not this is the right path and you look for evidence to prove, to yourself, you know what you want. You can lose confidence and berate yourself because you’re “supposed” to know what you want. After all you’re an adult. That’s what adults do, right?

The truth is very few people know what they want with such depth that what they know about themselves carries them throughout their lives without any deviation. My wife Judith Sherven and I have worked with a wide range of executives from CEO down and they love their jobs. But they often tell us they didn’t plan to be where they are. In a very real way not only did they find themselves in their new roles, they discovered who they were and what they were capable of in their current roles.

Granted some told us that they wanted the position they are in and navigated consciously to get there. But they were in the minority.

So how can you be sure you’re moving in the right direction even if you don’t have a clear picture of where you ultimately want to be?

To Begin You Must Start Where You Are

If you want clarity it’s best to stay in the present. Memory can be foggy and inaccurate because we lay on our past/memory an interpretation from the conscious and unconscious points of view of where we are now which can distort and rewrite what you believed then. That risk makes memory essentially risky to this task. And whatever you hope for or imagine what will be in the future has not yet occurred and as we all know what you hope for now will be different when it is realized.

The first step is to be clear about what you’re doing now. Describe in detail what you are doing in your work life. You may think you already know so this step would be redundant. But when you commit to the task of putting it on paper, i.e. making it objective, the process itself will reveal to you detail you may not have considered. Your commitment itself will bring things to mind that otherwise might remain in the shadows and unavailable.

Are You Fulfilled in Your Current Position?

What is fulfillment? Like all psychological/spiritual concepts it is very difficult if not impossible to answer the question in precise terms. But you can closely approximate that precision by looking at the qualities that are part of the experience of fulfillment.

Think of it this way. Use your experience of fulfillment, to the degree that you are fulfilled, as evidence that you are at the right place, in the right role. For the time being you are contained, no longer reaching. This doesn’t prevent you from wanting more, but that next level is in the future. How can you be sure it’s right for you? You can’t know until you’re in the role but you can know that you’re on the right path. You can trust your ambition and the picture you’ve imagined for yourself. For the purpose of determining a sense of surety stay focused within the frame of where you are right now. Ask yourself:

● Does what I do express my abilities and represent who I am?

● In my current role do I feel in alignment with who I see myself to be?

● Are my values supported by what I do?

● Do I have a sense of purpose?

● Are my expectations met?

● Am I achieving what I predicted?

● Do I confidently accept who I am at this time?

Warning: do not put the burden on yourself of having to be perfect. There will always be moments of dissatisfaction, frustration, and even bewilderment, but they are moments and to be expected. What’s important is that your picture of you and where you are now in the context of where you want to go is the platform on which you stand to build you surety.

Do you receive pleasure from what you do?

For this assessment understand pleasure to mean something you prefer in other words your preference, so that what you do is grounded in your own choices. If what you’re doing is not reflective of your will and desire there’s no way you can derive pleasure from it. The deepest level of pleasure is that you are doing what you want to do. Pleasure is a big part of fulfillment. So ask yourself:

● Am I content with where I am now? This is not to say you don’t want more, but again stay in the present. The task here is to gain surety for your career trajectory. Don’t complicate it.

● Do I feel a sense of generosity from what I do? For example do I, for the most part, enjoy my colleagues? Do I trust them? Can I depend on them? Do I appreciate them? Am I generous to them and they to me?

● Do I feel an ease with regard to collaborating with them? Do we have a mutually accepted goal that focuses us and creates a unified purpose?

● Is it fun doing what I do with those I do it? Do we laugh? Can we be playful?

Answering these questions in detail will allow you to shape the working conditions you need in order to assure your excellence.

Your answers may not directly open a window on your career direction but if your answers are “Yes” in some form in the majority of your answers you can trust that the path you’re on is correct.

Do you receive recognition for your work?

● Is what you do visible to others? Do you receive public acknowledgment for your work? Acknowledgment is essential not only to a good life but as a demonstration that you are in the right place. Otherwise you may be on the wrong path heading in a negative direction or just spinning your wheels.

● Do you believe that recognition when you get it or do you dismiss it? Another way of saying this is does the recognition feed you? Do you feel more secure as a result, more confident of who you are?

● Is curiosity part of your daily life? Are you growing? If not than whatever picture you have of where you want to go is not only static it’s regressing. Desire and ambition must be fed or they will die.

● Do you prize what you’re doing? What value does it contain for you? In what ways are you developing so you can identify your growth?

● All of these questions have to do with self-awareness without which you can never develop a clear and meaningful picture of where you want to go. Does what you do help you know yourself better?


Surrendering to or going with who you are right now can fill out the picture of your path. Without your willingness to accept yourself you will be in internal conflict and that will only produce a confused, frustrating, and ultimately powerless picture of what you want for your career.

But for now, all that you are has in it the germinating seeds of what you will become. Listen to yourself. Listen to those around you. Listen to the quality of your work. Listen to your ability to collaborate. Your depth is speaking to you in all these ways and it’s in your depth that the clearest, most sure picture of where your career is going will be expressed and discovered.

Your career trajectory is emerging every day. If you’re not sure of it, pay attention to what’s around you and what’s inside of you. That’s where you will discover your true career trajectory.

I am eager to hear your comments

Author's Bio: 

Judith Sherven, PhD and her husband Jim Sniechowski, PhD http://JudithandJim.com have developed a penetrating perspective on people’s resistance to success, which they call The Fear of Being Fabuloustm. Recognizing the power of unconscious programming to always outweigh conscious desires, they assert that no one is ever failing—they are always succeeding. The question is, at what? To learn about how this played out in the life of Whitney Houston, check out http://WhatReallyKilledWhitneyHouston.com.

Currently working as consultants on retainer to LinkedIn providing executive coaching, leadership training and consulting as well as working with private clients around the world, they continually prove that when unconscious beliefs are brought to the surface, the barriers to greater success and leadership presence begin to fade away. They call it Overcoming the Fear of Being Fabulous http://OvercomingtheFearofBeingFabulous.com.