3 questions to ask family and friends if you’re feeling stuck

If you’re thinking about a career change or taking your next step, it can feel like a lot to handle on your own.

Working out what you want to do and how you can make it happen can be a real challenge, especially if you’re doubting yourself. But sharing this process with others can help you to work out a way forward.

Friends or family can be a great source of information, advice and motivation when it comes to changing careers. In fact, they may have figured out you need a change in your career before you did.

Lean on your inner circle

Many of us are our own worst critics. That negative inner voice can become stronger when it comes to our careers, when we may feel greater stress and be worried about rejection.

This is why SEEK’s Resident Psychologist, Sabina Read, is a big advocate for having open conversations with family and friends about your career. “Often the people we spend the most time with who know us best, can help identify things about ourselves that we’re not aware of,” says Read.

Here are three reasons why talking to your family can help your career:

  1. They know you
    Use your family and friends as a sounding board to talk about your ideas because they have a good understanding of what you’re passionate about and may help you unlock options you hadn’t considered.
  2. They’re a resource
    Your family and friends are your most invested network and may be more connected than you realise. You can ask them to reach out to their network for you. Who knows, it could lead to a life-changing introduction, or at the very least a conversation with someone that has done it all before.
  3. They’ll keep you motivated
    Your family and friends will be there to talk out any fears you may have about money, time, or stability. They’re also likely to keep you motivated through the highs and lows.

The three key questions to ask

Read says leaning into the people who know us best at a career crossroads can be one of the most affirming exercises we can do. “Sometimes they confirm what we already believe while other times they will serve up new ideas to broaden our view of self.”

At the very least, this exercise can be a great confidence booster. “Who doesn't like being told they are passionate, empathetic, fun, committed, love to learn, curious, confident, warm, humourous or supportive?” Read adds.

She recommends asking these three questions to friends or family if you’re stuck and unsure of what to do next:

  1. What do I do well?
  2. When do you see me at my best?
  3. When do you think I’m most energised?

These conversation starters help explore who you are from a strengths-based perspective. They’re designed to focus on behaviours, traits, skills, and attitudes instead of job titles or industry-specific roles.

“Of course, these are also great questions to ask ourselves too. However, our family and friends often have fresh insights in contrast to our own, and will usually be delighted to share their thoughts with us,” Read explains.

What next?

It’s one thing to ask the questions but another to act on the feedback given to you. Read’s advice is to listen with an open heart and an open mind, and take time to absorb what has been said. “Read it, hear it, feel it then consider how these strengths can be applied to your job hunt or career change.”

Asking these questions is not an endpoint but one more step in the journey to better understand yourself. Read says this “call to action” includes how you'll continuously use the insights to create a more satisfying working life, and a more fulfilling life in general.

“For example, if your mum sees you at your best when you're being creative, or your colleague thinks you're energised when you are collaborating with others, brainstorm when and where you can employ creativity and collaboration in your days,” Read says.

It can be useful to keep that feedback in mind when you're job hunting, and this may even lead you to reconsider accepting a job that doesn’t suit you.

Our inner voices can often be the most critical and the loudest, so it’s important to seek out other ideas and perspectives. Speaking to people you trust and respect, like your family or closest friends, can help put you on the right path to make a career change, or help confirm what you want – or don’t want. You never know what these conversations might uncover.