Navigating the Unknown: How to Succeed Even If You Don't Have It All Figured Out Yet

Just as I had got comfortable at school, it was time to move on to something new. While some of my friends were racing off to college, university or into a job, I was left wondering what came next for me. 

I had no idea what I wanted to “do for the rest of my life” but I did know I didn’t want to go to University straight from school. If the degree apprenticeship opportunity had been available to me, I think I would have taken it, but that wasn’t an option then.

I went for a few job interviews and surprisingly to me, I was offered a full time job in a company that looked after specialist pension funds. I had NO idea about anything to do with pensions, but that one job set me on a path that leads me to today!

I don’t think it matters if you ‘don’t know what you want to do’ when you leave school. I didn’t and now I am working as a highly paid consultant working in central Government and I am about to buy a portfolio of businesses. Over the last 12 years, I have increased my income by 1,218%. I don’t say this to impress you, but to impress upon you that anyone can be successful if they believe in themselves.

When I left school, I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have it all figured out. And I didn’t try to get a ‘brilliant’ job to start with. Instead I found a job, any job, and figured it out from there.

That job was in financial services. But I haven’t stayed in that sector all my working life. My career is has been very ‘squiggly’. I went from financial services to publishing to corporate training to the public sector and now onto private businesses.

The company Amazing If wrote the book Squiggly Careers and You Coach You . They celebrate having a career that reinvents itself and doesn’t follow a single path. Which means that, if you happen to not know what you want to do, that’s not only fine but is to be celebrated.

So, if you’re thinking you don’t know what career you want, don’t worry… it will all fall into place. But there are some things you can do to help you be the most successful you can be. To start with…

…Interview practice. I know interviews are daunting but they are not there to catch you out and often, the person interviewing you is nervous too! There are LOTS of free resources out there to help you with the sorts of questions an interviewer is likely to ask. So, do some research and think about how you can best answer some of those typical questions.

Practising those answers (out loud!!) will make you feel more confident and therefore less nervous. Make sure you make lots of eye contact with those who are interviewing you. That is so important and if that’s not your comfort zone, find a way to push yourself so you have eye contact during an interview. This will make all the difference to how others see you. It might feel uncomfortable, but it’s not for long and could just land you that first job!

Do your research on the company you are being interviewed by and think about some of the questions you want to ask at the end of the interview. Coming prepared will help you stand out from the other candidates.

One thing I found really helpful when I started working, was to make sure people knew who I was. Being visible to your colleagues is really important for your career development. So, make friends, have lunch with people you don’t directly work with and volunteer to be involved in little side projects that mean you will get to work with people you don’t normally. 

Any business you work for will be looking to grow the business and to keep their costs down. So, if you spot opportunities for making more sales or cutting out waste, your manager will be pleased to hear about it. You don’t need to come to them with the idea fully planned out, just make the suggestions. If you keep making helpful suggestions, you will get noticed and that helps you in many ways. I have done this in every job I’ve worked in and it made a huge difference. If you make this a helpful suggestion rather than it coming across as a criticism, you will raise your profile.

Leaders are Readers. If you haven’t heard this before, it is very true. I have grown my salary by 1,218% by reading and developing myself over the 12 years since I have been back at work (having taken five years off to raise my children). And I am not alone. ALL those people who I know that also like to read business books, have increased their value and their salary.

The average person reads one book a year. So even if you only read two or three books a year, it will make a huge difference to your future. I don’t mean fiction books (sadly!), I mean business books. There are hundreds of thousands of books out there so pick one and read it. You can even listen to them as audiobooks if you prefer. Or listen to some business podcasts. Trust me, it will change your life in ways you can’t even consider at the moment!

Find a mentor. If the company you work for has a mentor scheme, sign up as soon as you can. I SO wish I had had a mentor when I left school. I know it would have been so valuable to me, but I didn’t even know about mentors back then. If your company doesn’t have a mentor scheme, find someone to be your mentor. If can be anyone you trust, admire and has had some successes you could benefit from learning about.

Taking action is the key to making progress. And progress will lead to whatever success looks like for you. We are all different and have different views of what success is. But whatever your view of success, taking action is the key to getting where you want to be.

I am excited for your future, as excited as I hope you are. ALL the best to each and every one of you.

Zoe Price

Business Investor Actively Seeking Acquisitions | Founder P R Group | Acquisition With Character.

You can find out more and connect with Zoe on LinkedIn.