Our experience of turning points in our career, or in life, can sometimes be subtle. It’s not always as apparent as some describe as “being at rock bottom” or “hitting a wall”.

Sometimes it’s like you’re swimming at the beach and a current has gently drifted you outside the safety of the flags. You didn’t realise you were moving in that direction but, when you do notice where you are, it is time to act!

So, what do you do when you know your career is moving you towards a place that feels inauthentic, wrong or unsafe?


I believe part of the problem is underplaying (or not recognising) the need for assistance. You’re not going under and swallowing water, but equally you are not sure how much longer you can tread water for.

As always, in the entwined worlds of coaching and psychology, words are crucial. Terms like “stuck”, “turning-point” and “cross-roads” may be clichés, but they communicate a lot more than most people acknowledge. These are the words of a person who needs assistance because they are not where they want to be.


At the surface level, we may not be aware that we are struggling. However, similar to the classic iceberg analogy, what is above the surface and directly in our awareness only makes up part of the picture. Below the surface, out of view and oftentimes evading detection, is the vast bulk of the iceberg.

So what are the tell tale signs that you need assistance?

1) Sunday night blues

Do you feel anxious around about the time 60 Minutes airs?

Do you feel a sense of impending dread, as though something bad is on the horizon?

Do you find yourself trying to come up with reasons to not attend work?

2) Turning up without turning up

Despite low levels of motivation, you turn up to work with an attitude of “I have to do this, but I’d rather be doing anything else”

Reduced levels of desire to engage in role specific tasks, and instead focus on FaceBook or YouTube

Presenteeism – the act of turning up without mentally being present and without being engaged in your role – a sure sign that something is definitely not right with your career

3) Something else is more appealing

The job you have currently is safe and pays the bills, but you know there is something you would much rather do that you will be better at, enjoy more and will deliver greater levels of satisfaction

You have an awareness of your strengths and potential that are not being utilised in your current role


As kids, we are trained to raise our hands when we don’t understand something, or if we need help. As we grow older this inclination is superseded by thought patterns like “I should know this”, “I will work it out myself because otherwise I’ll be embarrassed” and “I want people to believe that I have it all together”.

The analogy I like to use is that, when we are in unfamiliar waters or the conditions we are used to change, a simple wave to shore alerting lifeguards that help is needed can be key in avoiding impending danger.

One thing I have noted time and again as a coach is that those who are open to learning, and actually ask for help, benefit enormously.


The sense of relief that comes with honest communication can be a game changer. Sometimes a simple discussion over a coffee can alter a person’s world.

I mentioned last week my deep respect for Dan Price, a young man who has had an intense battle with mental illness. I hold Dan in the highest of esteem not only because he continues to battles his inner demons, but also because he had the courage, intelligence and strength of character to put his hand up and ask for help – not only in his career, but also in his life.

Now Dan is a motivated, focused man who is making a tangible difference in people’s lives by telling his story, and also challenging others to raise their hand in moments of need.


There should be no fear or embarrassment in raising one’s hand for assistance. If anything, it is a sign of true self-awareness and of deep strength.

So if you have the feeling that something is not quite right in your career – or in any element of life – don’t wait until the current has dragged you to the rough depths of the ocean. Raise your hand and seek help, because the real danger lies in doing nothing

Richard Burton – InnerZone Founder and CEO

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