top of page

Sliding Door Moments: Reimagining Career Decisions and Future Possibilities

Career Sliding Door Moment and Choices

Have you ever wondered how different your career might have been if you had taken a different path at key moments? Let's explore these "sliding door" moments of your career.

I'm going to walk you through an activity (part of the career change framework I use in my coaching) to identify pivotal turning points in your career and then use these moments to explore the alternative routes that were available to you. This is a really powerful exercise to kick start your career change thinking.

Whether you're contemplating a career reinvention or just curious about the road not taken and what might have been, this exercise will extract valuable insights and inspiration. As I always say, you hold all the answers within. As a coach, I am here to help you find those answers!

How to prepare...

To get the most out of this activity, bring:

  • Your experiences

  • An open mind

  • A pen and paper

We're going to journey through the fascinating world of career choices and the paths not taken, delving into your past.

Why We Settle for Uninspiring Work

One reason we accept uninspiring work is that human beings are extremely adaptable. We can live in climates ranging from below zero to sweltering desert heat. Because of this survival instinct, we can hold down an uninspiring job for a very long time, for me it was 6 years! However, just because we can do this, doesn’t mean that we "should".

Many of you, I know, are stuck in a career rut. According to John Lees, one of the top Career Strategists in the UK and Europe, and the designer of many of the exercises I use in my Career Change Framework (and this exercise), the worst kind of rut is the velvet-rut. You hate being in it, but it’s just too comfortable to climb out of.

Ruts persist because of stuck thinking. You know something needs to change, but you're unsure what. What you need instead is breakthrough thinking. A great idea to propel you forward requires thinking and behaving differently.

The Power of Reinvention

I believe in the power of reinvention. In our rapidly changing world, many of us must will do this more than once in our careers. I have - in my 20s and in my 40s I facilitated my own career shifts. Reshaping your career means staying open to possibilities, remaining curious, and trying new ideas.

Cultivate tentative plans for exploration instead of discarding them. For example, if you wonder about a career in nursing, don't immediately ask, "Do I want to be a nurse?" This early decision crushes creativity. Consider other related roles like pathology, paramedic, nutritionist, or counsellor. Explore what it is about these roles that is appealing? Is it helping people? Is it curing the body of ailment? Is it working with mindset and belief?

Reflecting on Career Decisions

If you're considering reinvention, it's important to reflect on how you've made career decisions so far. Think about the paths you've taken, and the ones you haven't.

Activity: Exploring your 'Sliding Doors' moments

Consider important turning points in your life:

  • Moments when you had to choose a path.

Record these key turning points in a methodical way:

  • Decisions around subjects you took in the final years at school.

  • The course or university you chose.

  • The first job offer you accepted.

  • Opportunities you did/didn't take (study exchange/travel).

  • Accepting a promotion.

  • Deciding to work for the family business.

Here's an example of my Career Sliding Door Moments:

Exploring Career options

Choose one turning point, from those you have recalled above, to explore further now:

  • Write it in a box in the middle of a piece of paper.

Draw out your paths not taken for that particular moment in a mind map style.

Here's an example of what mine looked like:

Career Possibilities and alternatives

These are the alternative choices that were on offer at the time, things you nearly did, or could’ve done.

Questions to Consider

  • What choices were available to you at past turning points?

  • How did you choose each path?

  • What difference would a different path have made to you?

  • How have you made career decisions since?

Approach this as if all doors are open to you. Imagine you're guiding a friend through a career reinvention. You wouldn't constantly tell them, "NO, that's not right for you" but sadly, this is what we do to ourselves.

For a friend, you'd explore variations and new opportunities. Generate ideas for roles and sectors worth looking in to. Look for areas that spark your curiosity and enthusiasm—they're clues to your future.

Moving from 'What If' to 'How Could I Make This Work'

There comes a point when it’s healthy to move on from 'what if' to 'how do I make this happen'. Think in terms of testing and experimenting—low-risk ways of getting things moving. This is a fundamental element of design thinking, testing and experimenting to gain confirmation easily. An art I have mastered in my Digital Product Strategy - we would find a way to test all our possible solutions before building them.

  • You could extend yourself by studying in your own time in a field of interest.

  • Take up voluntary activities outside work to experiment with your career longings.

  • Short-term or temporary employment can sometimes help you, providing a useful laboratory for your career plans.

Sometimes the best prompt for everyday experiment is “don’t think, just leap.” Make the most of this opportunity today, as a result of reflecting on your career sliding door moments. Today you will have discovered new avenues for future growth and possible reinvention. Don't waste this breakthrough thinking!

The Inkling Effect Career and Strengths Coaching

Binny Langler champions the radical idea that you can design the work life you want.

By coaching you on how to write the next chapter of your work story with YOU as the hero, spotlighting your unique superpowers.

As Founder & Director of The Inkling Effect, Binny has over 20 years of experience in helping professionals discover and apply their unique strengths to create more fulfilling and meaningful work.

A certified Executive, Gallup Global Strengths Coach & Career Change Coach - with a Masters of Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Her mission is to be a change catalyst for curious professionals who are seeking a fresh start in their career journey. She uses a fast-track process that reveals your superpowers to enable you to script the next chapter of your work story with intention and purpose. Binny specialises in challenging the status quo, utilising Design-Thinking to empower her clients to embrace their potential and pursue brilliance, whether that be in their current role, or transitioning to something entirely different.

Book a Free Career Strategy Chat HERE

Coaching options:



bottom of page