You just have no aspirations for your career at all.
You don’t feel that motivated to get a promotion at your current job, and nothing comes to mind when people ask you what you want to do for a living.
Perhaps you’ve gone by just fine so far, but now you’ve had cause to ask yourself why this is so.
To help you along, here are 10 possible reasons why you don’t have any career aspirations, and what to do about it.
1) You’re still discovering yourself.
People expect us to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives the moment we turn 18. We go to college and choose a course under this assumption.
Frankly, that’s just unrealistic.
We aren’t born knowing our destinies. Rather, the discovery of our life’s calling is a journey unique to every single one of us. Some of us find that calling early, while others might not find theirs until their 60’s.
So don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t discovered a career to aspire for.
Take comfort in the fact that it’s better to start late in something you’re really passionate about than to start early (and stay) in something you’re not so into.
What to do:
Pursue your hobbies and interests. People often find that the career they aspire for is related to—even if not exactly the same as—their interests. A science nerd might find their calling in education, for example.
Don’t feel guilty about not being passionate about your career just yet. You can still be employed and put in good work even if it’s not your dream job.
2) You have other priorities at the moment.
Having a good career might not be your top priority right now. And that’s fine.
Perhaps you want to establish a relationship with someone first, because if you put your work first then maybe someone else will have taken them by the time you’re done.
Or maybe you have obligations, such as caring for a sick parent or helping your parents raise your siblings.
A career might be important, but it’s not the only thing in this world worth living for. So don’t put yourself down when others begin talking about their grandiose dreams for the future.
It’s not like it’s permanent, after all. Perhaps when you’ve gone steady with your date you can begin to pursue your career in earnest. And illness never lasts forever.
What to do:
Allow yourself to not think about your career for a while. Focus on your current priorities, and remind yourself that you’re still getting something done. But do set a deadline, after which your work becomes your number one priority.
Take the time to think about your options and ask yourself what you truly want. You want to be sure that you’re walking down the right path the moment you’re free to do so.
3) You think building a career is tedious…so you procrastinate.
Maybe you’re stuck because when you think of “career”, you automatically think “hard work” and hard work is not something you’re willing to spend your time on.
It’s not that you’re lazy, not really.
It’s just that you’ve seen or heard things that made you lose interest in the idea of building a career. Perhaps you’ve seen people ruin their lives or relationships trying to build a career.
Or maybe you see your boss sucking up or doing corrupt and underhanded things just to get ahead, and you don’t think you can stomach doing that too.
And maybe you also don’t know where to start, or how to start, and all of that just makes it too much for you to deal with.
Perhaps you had been building a career but had decided that it was too stressful to keep going so you decided to be content with what you had instead.
What to do:
Perhaps your problem might lie in having a poor work-life balance, in which case trying to set up a good compromise between your work and your personal life is important. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends and colleagues.
Think of the things that hard work and a good career will give you access to, from social opportunities to luxuries and most of all—security. Remind yourself of these rewards.
Make decently spaced-out milestones and treat yourself every time you reach one of them. Go with whatever you fancy, may it be a brand new iPhone or simply a tub of ice cream.
4) You’re actually too ambitious.
While this might seem quite unexpected at first, a surplus of ambition holding one back is actually true for many.
Some people get demotivated simply because they’re too idealistic and their goals feel so far out of reach that it’s pointless to even try.
Perhaps they would dream of coming up with a big invention or be a world-famous superstar. How does one even begin to make that happen?
If this is you, then it would seem like you simply have no career aspirations at the surface. Truth is, however, that you simply have your sights set really high, and the sheer gap has intimidated you into inaction.
What to do:
Stay ambitious! But do remember to break down your big goals into smaller, easily-achievable milestones. Take it one step at a time.
Another thing you can do is delegate tasks. You need not be alone in your ambition—hire someone else to help you out when you need to.
5) You are stuck in a rut (and you feel you can’t get out of it).
It’s inevitable that things don’t always go the way we wished they did. And it’s not uncommon for us to stray from the path we imagined.
We might stay in that rut for weeks, months, even years on end, without a way out in sight.
And this might just be what’s happening to you.
Perhaps that ‘rut’ comes in the form of unexpected expenses or an increase in the bills you have to pay. Maybe you might find yourself getting roped into something that you don’t want—like getting caught in the crossfire of a workplace beef, for example.
It might be hard to get out of these situations, but you must nonetheless try. You only have one life to live—best not to live it stuck in the mud.
What to do:
So how can you overcome this feeling of being “stuck in a rut”?
Well, you need more than just willpower, that’s for sure.
I learned about this from Life Journal, created by the highly-successful life coach and teacher Jeanette Brown.
You see, willpower only takes us so far…the key to transforming your life into something you’re passionate and enthusiastic about takes perseverance, a shift in mindset, and effective goal setting.
And while this might sound like a mighty task to undertake, thanks to Jeanette’s guidance, it’s been easier to do than I could have ever imagined.
Now, you may wonder what makes Jeanette’s course different from all the other personal development programs out there.
It all comes down to one thing:
Jeanette isn’t interested in being your life coach.
Instead, she wants YOU to take the reins in creating the life you’ve always dreamt of having.
So if you’re ready to stop dreaming and start living your best life, a life created on your terms, one which fulfills and satisfies you, don’t hesitate to check out Life Journal.
6) You reject the “ hustle” culture.
Perhaps you’re not too fond of money or status. You don’t idolize corporations or billionaires. In fact, you blame them for why the world is the way it is right now.
Work to you isn’t a virtue, but merely a means to an end. It’s what keeps you alive, and it’s what gives you the money to buy things that give you joy.
You’re no worker drone—you live for yourself, and not to make your employer’s wallet fatter.
Holding these core beliefs, it becomes plain why you wouldn’t have any aspirations for your career. You don’t have a dream job, simply because you don’t dream of labor.
You might know your interests well, but you shy away from the notion of turning your passions into work. You know that if you turn your passions into work, you’ll end up resenting them.
What to do:
If this describes you, then kudos for breaking free of the hustle culture. But that begs the question—why are you here, reading this article?
If you question yourself because of peer pressure, then you might want to ask yourself why you’re surrounding yourself with people who don’t respect your lifestyle.
But it’s also possible that you feel like you need a sense of purpose, in which case you can perhaps pursue your interest as though it were a career. It doesn’t have to be about money—you can pursue a “music career” by uploading videos online, for example.
7) You don’t see it working for other people.
Maybe the reason you don’t want to think too much about your career is that you don’t want to be a “career person.”
Maybe as a child, you witnessed your parents throwing away their money in vain attempts at starting the business of their dreams.
Or maybe you saw your formerly lively and happy best friend slowly turn into a dead-eyed corporate zombie, living paycheck to paycheck with nary a smile on his face.
Perhaps you’ve seen your boss do his best to succeed, only to end up in a coma from overwork.
Having witnessed such things, you’ve decided that being a “career person” is the last thing you want to be.
What to do:
Seeing people who’re trying hard and yet they’re unhappy can indeed demotivate us. But keep in mind that the problem isn’t in people actually trying, but in how they try.
Remember to learn from any mistakes you made along the way, instead of trying to do the same thing over and over again hoping for a different outcome. And remember to have a life outside of work.
8) You don’t believe in yourself enough.
Any kind of success (or failure) starts in the mind—specifically, in how much you believe in yourself.
If you don’t believe you’re capable of achieving grand things in life, and that you’ll only have a mediocre life at best, then that might be why you’re not that ambitious with your career.
After all, why bother when you know you’ll simply be wasting your —and others’— time?
Perhaps you’ve been defeatist for a while, or maybe you decided to adopt this way of thinking after having failed a few times.
What to do:
Defeatism has never helped anyone. If anything, it had held back people who would have otherwise excelled.
Attitude is an instrumental part of success, and that’s why people who seemed to be “below” you are suddenly above you a year later. It’s because they tried.
If you’re a natural-born cynic, it will be hard to fight back against that voice in the back of your head. But nonetheless, it’s a worthy cause to try all the same.
Find yourself some supportive friends to cheer you along as you embrace your successes in life, and get a diary to write down all the good things that you’ve done.
9) You feel like you’re on the wrong path.
Perhaps you thought you chose right, or perhaps you were led here. But you realized that you were on the wrong path and now it feels like it’s too late to change course.
This defeatist kind of thinking is normal, but we have to quiet it down.
Let’s say you’re an architect working in a firm for two years and you realize it’s not something you really want to do. Well, of course, you wouldn’t want to climb up the ladder. You want to get off it!
On the outside, it looks like you have no career aspirations, but it’s not the case. It’s only because you don’t have any love for your current job, and you’re too scared to leave it because of how much time and energy you’ve invested in it.
To start over again feels like flushing six or more years down the toilet.
What to do:
Step down when you can but—because we want you to do it the right way— do it only when you already figured out what you really, really, really want to do.
Be mindful of your needs; before you leave your current job, make sure that you can either support yourself for a good while or that you have a new job you can immediately jump to.
10) You like things exactly the way they are.
You have no career aspirations and you’re totally okay with it. You’re not exactly proud of it, but you’re happy with your life.
The only time you’re bothered by it is when other people start to question your life choices—as if you’re wasting your time or as if you’re just lazy.
For some people, they find it disconcerting when some people are actually content with “less”. Some even find it a threat…an insult. If I’m working my ass off, why aren’t they?
But you’re actually happy that although your career is so-so, you have a lot of other things going on—you have a happy family life, you are enjoying your hobbies, you can rest anytime you want.
You, my friend, are one lucky chap.
What to do:
Learn to be okay with your choices.
Don’t be bothered by what other people think. As long as you’re earning okay and you’re not bothering anybody, there is no need to keep upgrading your life.
You don’t need to have a big, fancy dream like “I want to be the president” or “I want to be the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company.” I myself dream of having a simple, happy life where I can enjoy the time I have on this earth.
However, if you know deep down inside that you should be doing more—than you’re bound for greater things, then be honest with yourself.
Get in touch with your desires.
Don’t be ashamed of your ambition, or stop for fear that you’re aiming too high. Cliche but DO aim for the stars—even if you won’t quite get there, at least you might get to the moon.
Putting yourself first
What’s your number one goal at the moment?
Is it to buy that car you’ve been saving up for?
To finally start that side-hustle that’ll hopefully help you quit your 9-5 one day?
Or to take the leap and finally ask your partner to move in?
Whatever your goals are, there’s a hidden trap in how you set them.
The trap is this:
You’ll only experience genuine life satisfaction when your goals are aligned with your values.
Because when values and goals are aligned, you enjoy the journey much more. And this makes achieving your goals much more likely.
If you find it hard to articulate your deeper life values, I suggest downloading the free values exercise by career coach Jeanette Brown.
It takes only a couple of minutes and will reveal a number of powerful insights about your underlying values.