What to do when you’ve climbed the wrong ladder

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Last updated on March 19th, 2021

What can you do when you realize that you’ve been climbing the wrong career ladder for years?
What can you do when you realize that your success ladder was leaning against the wrong wall?

Unfortunately, this seems to be a hot topic these days: many career women are struggling with these exact issues.

You start out as a young and ambitious woman with stars in her eyes. You see yourself writing your name in bold letters in the world, leaving a BIG legacy.

You push yourself, you work hard in hopes of going up the ladder and getting ‘there’.

‘There’, you know, this mythical, perfect place, we’ve all been taught to strive for.

As you move up the ladder, the rewards start coming.

First, a better wardrobe.
Then, a nicer car.
Eventually a bigger home.

Your life is starting to look good.

At least on paper…

A shiny life in a golden cage.

Inside, it’s a different story.

All the fancy toys you surround yourself with slowly begin to lose their appeal.
Also, the stress of your high-octane life catches up with you and wrecks havoc on your personal life.

And, last but not least, you begin to question if you even care about the work that you do.

Are you really making a difference? Or, are you just a cog in a machine?
Can you even get behind the interests you’re actually serving?
Are you simply allowing all those perks that flatter your ego to kill your soul?

Who would have thought that success would leave such a sour taste in your mouth?

You feel empty and don’t know what to do.

On one hand, you could pretend everything is fine and keep going as you have so far.

Deep down you know this is long-term suicide.
If you feel this way now, you don’t even dare to imagine how bad things would be 10, 15 or 20 years from now.

Not an option!

On the other hand, what else can you do?

You’ve spent so much time, energy, money building this life. And it’s also very lucrative…
You can’t just throw it all away, can you? And, to do what?

Tough, I know!

Actually, there are few things you can do…

Climbed the wrong success ladder? Here's what you can do Click To Tweet

climbing the wrong ladder quote

1. Gain clarity!

As tough as it may be to hear this: you didn’t climb the wrong ladder by chance.

You may have been mislead or you may have made certain mistakes along the way that took you down the wrong path.

In any case, if you don’t understand how you got yourself in your current predicament, you run the risk of reproducing the same scenario in the future. And since it probably is painful enough as it it, I am sure you would like to spare yourself further disappointment down the line…!

This is why gaining clarity is essential.

Some tips that can help you:

  • Start by going back into your past and try to figure out what made you climb the wrong ladder. 
  • Try to identify the turning point: the moment when things flipped, the moment when you leaned your ladder against the wrong wall.

That is the first step in rectifying the situation.

VIP bonus:
Looking for a short-cut for this step? I have made free video training series that shares some of the common mistakes smart, ambitious women in your situation have made and give you some direction to fix them.
Gaining clarity is the first step to get back on the RIGHT ladder. Click To Tweet

2. Make a decision.

At this point there are 2 options:

  • either you stay in your miserable glossy life,
  • or you make changes. 

Either option has its advantages and its inconvenients.

Staying put doesn’t require much effort, your life will probably go on as it has without much disruptions.
Only, you will lead a life of glossy desperation and regret for many years to come.

Making changes will probably require efforts.
It may affect your relationships, your living standards (although it doesn’t have to happen if you plan smartly). I do have a couple of powerful tools to dramatically minimize the disruption, but truth be told you’ll probably be up for a ride.

The huge benefit is that you can look forward to many years of passion, fulfillment and happiness ahead of you.

That’s where you have to decide what’s more important to you:

  • abandoning all hope of a fulfilling life forever but maintaining a sense of stability,
  • or making sacrifices to give yourself a better future.

This decision is key because you’ll need a strong driver in order to accomplish what needs to be done should you decide to leave your gilded cage and make changes in your life.

There’s no right and wrong way here.
There’s only what’s appropriate for you and what you have the strength to handle (or not!).

If you choose to stay in your situation, there isn’t much to do but to accept your fate.

If you have decided to make changes (which is probably why you’re reading this article in the first place) then keep reading.

3. ‘I have climbed the wrong ladder. Is it too late to start over?’.

This is a question that often comes up when addressing this topic. This might also be one that’s floating in your mind right now.

Now, as much as I would like to answer with a resounding ‘No!’, I shall instead answer with a ‘Yes and no.’

The truth is: 

Some activities do come with an age deadline: you can’t play junior league when you are a senior for instance.

However it doesn’t mean that you can’t play.
It only means that you have to play a different game!

For example:

  • 50 and need a new start? No one seems eager to hire you?

While it may be harder to get hired in your 50s, you can certainly leverage all your years of expertise to relaunch your career as a high-level consultant. (After all, aren’t most governments and high-level institutions around the world full of highly-paid individuals in their 60s and above?!)

  • 40 and regret never having given modeling a shot?

You could become the face of young mature women!

Do you see what I mean?

Not that I am trying to imply that becoming a model will put an end to your career woes.
I simply want to convey the idea that you might have to get creative and position yourself smartly to make what could work against work for you.

In other words, you may have to adapt your plan to fit with where you are in life.

However, it certainly doesn’t mean that you have to draw a line through your pursuit of happiness.

I have been in position where I was too young to get the dream job and I still got it.
There are many people who were on paper too old for the job, they got it too.

It’s never too late (or too early!) to pursue happiness, if you are breathing you should still keep trying.

Just be aware that your ultimate fulfillment may look different than what you have been taugh to imagine.

climbed the wrong ladder quote

4. Make a plan.

Now, I am going to issue a huge warning here. This is a step most people get wrong, especially type-A over-achievers with a go-getter personality.

A huge to-do list, hundreds of late-nights, gallons of coffee and massive action will not fix your life! Worse, if you dive right-back into huff-and-puff action-taking mode before the right safeguards are in place you run the risk of climbing the wrong ladder all over again. 

The point here is not to panic, go for the first quick fix and sprinkle a heavy dose of can-do attitude over the whole thing.

This is not about tapping your network to figure out who is hiring and who’s offering the best benefit package. 

This is not about retraining so you can jump on the new career trend.

This is not about starting a coaching practice or building a six-figure business.

Basically, this is not about finding the latest turnkey ‘success’ formula (that will probably turn out to be another grand diversion taking you even further away from happiness…) 

This is about creating a bespoke life tailored to your innermost needs: a life that finally fuels your soul!

Some useful suggestions.

This is why you should never start making concrete plans before:

  • Reconnecting with yourself.

You need to be clear on who you truly are to know what you truly need.

  • Soul-searching.

A superficial look at your situation will only yield a superficial solution, you need a deep-dive to create lasting positive change.

  • Redefining success and setting the right goals.

If your definition of success lead you to climb the wrong ladder, you will probably need to reevaluate how you define success and update your goals accordingly.

  • Considering taking a retreat.

I am sure you are busy and you don’t have time to waste.
Retreats are a great way to soul-search, plan and strategize in a short amount of time. This is certainly a tool to consider in your situation. (I also offer private retreats.)

  • Putting it all-together and reinventing yourself.

This is where all the preliminary steps and your soul-searching turn into a concrete plan. 

This is also where you address and neutralize all the obstacles, fears, doubts, sabotaging patterns, shortcomings that may hinder you. This is also where you create a leveraged action plan that doesn’t drive you into the ground.

5. My secret weapon.

I do realize that totally changing your life can sound like a huge ordeal, especially after such a devastating realization as having climbed the wrong ladder.

However, it really doesn’t have to be. 

I discovered many years ago that there are certain laws in the universe that can help us reach our objectives faster and with less effort. It’s a bit like sailing with the wind

A lot of us, tough-cookie, over-achievers weren’t taught anything except hard work. (In other words sailing against the wind.)

Hard work is great, it certainly builds ethics and character. However, it’s not always the most leveraged way to get where you need to be. 

You can also sail with a tailwind by tapping into those universal laws which can dramatically speed things up for you.

(To give you an idea, you can read this post to learn what happened the first time I tried this to turn my life around.)

This is a technique I use all the time.

And, this is also the technique I would recommend that you use if you’ve just realized that you’ve climbed the wrong ladder and you’ve chosen to start over. 

After all you’ve already invested so many years in building your life, you certainly do not have years to waste to course-correct. You need tools that help you find your sweet spot with the minimum amount of disruption… and as fast as possible.

This is exactly what this technique does!

The shortcut.

Hopefully these tips inspired you, gave you hope and helped you realize that even if you’ve climbed the wrong ladder, all is not doomed. You certainly can turn things around.

However, you may be left with many questions regarding how to apply these tips concretely.

That’s where I can help you!

Over the years, I have reinvented myself many times and I have developed an unusual set of tools and strategies to pivot fast. I have put everything I have learned in a range of programs designed to help women in your situation: successful, smart, driven women who got side-tracked and lost sight of their happiness.

Whether you need to make small adjustments or completely start over, these programs can help you find your bliss.

To get started:

In any case, know that climbing the wrong ladder is not the end of your life.
It may even be a ‘blissing’ in disguise!

The pain you feel right now is a symptom, a clear sign that something in your life is misaligned. However, it’s also telling me that a better life is waiting for you just around the corner.

If you’re ready to take a stand for your happiness, make sure to do something today to get your life back on the right track!

Reinventing your life can be easy with the right support Click To Tweet

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Dominique

Bonjour!

I am Dominique! I am a maverick who helps unfulfilled career ladies get unstuck & create soulful lives. You can learn more about my story here.

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