I think those feelings of dissatisfaction, discouragement, and frustration we all feel at work from time to time are momentary sensations of being lost.
Lost in the existential sense of questions about the moment: Where am I going? What am I doing? How am I going to get there? Is this the right job for me? Can I do this? Am I meeting expectations? What comes next?
When without definitive answers those types of questions bring about a professional lostness that can be difficult to navigate. How long any moment of being lost lasts is variable—and so the feeling, while important, is less important than the actions that come after it in an effort to stop being lost.
That makes the idea of not being lost an interesting one: Is it found? Or alive? Or seen? Aware? Valued? Respected? Or something else? A combination?
An answer to that question depends, I think, on what you’re after and I believe that knowing what you’re after is a key component of becoming unlost.
And that is the value of being lost: it’s at the times I’ve felt lost where I am especially reflective and aware and open to the lessons of the moment.
Getting professionally unlost is really about knowing yourself, knowing your situation, and knowing where you’re trying to go. Only with that knowledge can you appropriately find the best course of action for questions like Should I quit? Do I need a new job? How can I make this project happen? What comes next? What should I do?
Yet being lost is exceptionally unsettling (and often accompanied by sleepless nights, anxiety, hard conversations, major decisions, and other work-life ailments) and so it’s no wonder that we desire to become unlost as quickly as possible.
So I think we all need to give ourselves permission to be lost from time to time because I think being lost can help us figure things out about work. Those feelings of dissatisfaction, discouragement, and frustration are permission for personal discovery because getting through moments of our lostness in our own way and on our own terms is the only way to traverse the path to wherever it is you desire to go.