I Don't Know What I Want to Do Next, But It's Not This -- by Kathryn Lorenzen

I’m surprised at how often I hear this. Since 2002 I’ve been coaching people in career development and job search, and there’s been a considerable uptick in the frequency of this sentiment in the past 15 months.

My daily involvement as a coach with how people wrestle with these issues is exactly why I was so excited to say “yes!” when Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg invited me to co-lead Your Right Livelihood with her. To guide people in an experience of finding and developing their true work – in a tight-knit cohort of others who are equally committed – well, that’s the kind of meaning I want to make.


Starting in April of this year, between 2%-3% of the entire American workforce, approximately 4,000,000 people, have voluntarily left their jobs each month, a level not seen in decades (from the Bureau of Labor Statistics). This is what the media are referring to as “The Great Resignation” (term coined by Prof. Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University).


Is it a coincidence this dovetails with the trajectory of the pandemic? I don’t think so. In fact, it seems a perfect storm of convergence – the significant changes in job structures caused by COVID-19, the long-deteriorating bonds between employer and employee, the stagnation of wages at the level of most workers, and the way that technology has “disrupted” so many industries to eliminate altogether many services that used to be proudly carried out by actual people. And let’s face it, the pandemic itself has caused many to reexamine their priorities and change their minds about how they want to spend their time and effort. They’re thinking about what kind of meaning they want to make with their work.


If you’re not sure what’s next, but you know “it’s not this,” you might ask yourself if one of these notable reasons is why you feel this way:


  • Some people no longer feel aligned with the company or organization they work for, or its mission or values.

  • Some are extremely unhappy with the unrealistic demands of their jobs or a too-heavy workload.

  • Many people feel undervalued by their company, whether through a lack of adequate compensation or an absence of appreciation (and sometimes abused by customers or the public).

  • Some have been profoundly impacted by a loss of connection with their team – not everyone is cut out for remote work, and some organizations have not adjusted well to respond to this need for connection.

  • Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, both in layoffs and in the extraordinary demands of juggling a job and kids schooling from home. Many have voluntarily sacrificed the job for the needs of the family.

  • Some people express they are simply burned out. In addition to adjusting to all the changes in work structure, we have all taken on the extra stress of societal changes, uncertainty, and everything else that has layered on our experience of the past two years.

  • As noted above, many have entered into an exploration of what’s really important to them and concluded that they want to have work with more meaning, and that they’re willing to do something about that.

  • And in some cases, people are deciding to stop postponing deferred dreams, such as pursuing a career they’ve always secretly desired, launching a service or business of their own, or developing an art or passion into a livelihood.

Every day I see people step into making changes in their work and their lives, and I’m in awe of their courage and creativity.


If you find yourself in the middle of “it’s not this!” and you want to have a conversation to unpack it and consider what’s possible, you can do that with either Caryn or me. You may schedule time here.


And cheers to you finding “This! I want to do this!”

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