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A few years ago, I was having what some call a quarter-life crisis, but, ironically, lacked all the trademark signs of chaos normally associated with a true catastrophe. I was in a stable job that paid me a perfectly livable salary. I generally liked what I did, got to work in NYC, and had college students email me from time to time asking how I got my exact position. It was all good, and I was wretchedly unhappy.
Simply leaving my job for a different company within the same industry (and lightly boosting my income) didn’t seem like it would help — there was a deeper issue beyond slight changes in compensation or company benefits. And fully switching fields or going to grad school felt scary, too — I knew I’d risk making an enormous commitment to start from scratch, with no guarantee it wouldn’t make me feel even more stuck in the end.
Little by little, I started to look up resources that could address this problem, which I learned is actually extremely common. Reading books like “Designing Your Life” or combing through Ask a Manager blog posts helped me slowly dissect my role to discover which parts I actually loved (and which ones I really didn’t), as well as reassess my job hunting process as a whole.
I started to dig beyond our society’s common (and tired) refrain of “dream jobs” and “following your passion,” which I realized led me further away from good, fulfilling work. Several years (plus more books, blogs, and online courses) later, I feel like I finally zigzagged my way into a job that makes all those pieces fit together, but I also wouldn’t have known where to look if I hadn’t taken the time to really understand what I want from my career in the long-term.
It can be extra hard to get unstuck in your career during a pandemic when many of us are at home and day-to-day life can feel repetitious. But it can also be a good time to gently explore the deeper aspects of what you want to do, beyond currently existing job titles or perk-filled companies. There is also the strong possibility of new, more flexible jobs in the future, one of which might be a great fit for you — if you know to look for it.
Here are 15 online courses, books, and free resources to help you figure out what you want to do, take actionable steps to break into a field, and/or make the best of your current work situation.
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