It can be miserable when you find yourself in a job that is no longer working for you. I know I've been there. To everybody else, it may seem as though you are crazy to consider something else, but they aren't walking in your shoes. However, knowing what else you can do instead that will bring you greater fulfillment and happiness can be the very thing that keeps you stuck. I said it myself 'until I know what else to do I will stay.' Finding that clarity takes work and to help you get started here are five questions to start to uncover a career that will work for you.
1. It's 12 months from now and you are exactly where you want to be in life. What do you have, what are you able to do and who are you able to be?
This is a big question to start with but perhaps the most important. You unlikely to have a complete picture and know the finer detail, but just start to write down everything that comes to mind, the words, and the images you visualise. To make a career change we don’t need to have a clear plan of each action but without having a view of the end destination it can feel like you are taking a stab in the dark, we have nothing to use as a sense-test to know if we are moving in the right direction. Conversely, it may feel rather light in detail but we can build on this. With my own career change the vision I had for myself centred on greater freedom to choose what I was working on and when and where. I knew that I wanted to help people make positive improvements to their lives. I also knew I wanted to be back in my own home and have a loving family around me that I could spend time with. Consider your whole life when answering this question after all your personal life and career are intertwined and one will undoubtedly impact the other.
2. What holds my attention and I can get enthusiastic about?
When we start off in our careers often our priorities are about making use of our degrees, about paying off the student debts and being able to move out of the family home. Our career choice might not have centered on working for an organisation that we felt a connection with. I certainly didn’t feel a connection with aircraft maintenance. But I did see an opportunity to build a career.
But once we reach a certain point we can find that we want something different, we want to find more purpose, more excitement in the field we work in. We are looking for a connection, which can be either in the line of work or the organisation itself. Consider what you know about yourself, past and present, what gives you a buzz and what stops you and makes you listen to the radio, watch the TV, read on the internet or in the doctor's surgery magazine.
3. As I consider all the skills I have obtained personally and professionally which of them do I like using?
As you go about your day notice the tasks you like to do and don’t limit this to work. Understand what exactly is it that you enjoy about it and what are the skills you are using. Look at moments in your past when you have achieved something you were particularly proud of and delve deeper to identify the skills being utilised.
A successful career change is all about doing more of what you enjoy and ditching the bits you don’t, or significantly reducing the elements that don’t float your boat. But do you actually know what skills you enjoy doing? And be aware that this is not always the same as what you are good at.
4. What do I need my next career move to give me to make it work?
For the majority of us, let’s face it we need to earn a living, but do you know your figures, do you know exactly what you require to pay the bills? Typically I encourage my clients to look at two figures. Firstly what is the minimum you need to earn to avoid racking up the credit card debts and secondly looking at what you ideally want to earn to be able to enjoy those added extras and give yourself the life you have pictured in question 1?
For some people understanding the numbers can be frightening but the results can be liberating as you start to uncover the possibilities. We also have a clear measure as we explore new opportunities to know if an opportunity is going to be sustainable.
As well as financial you can think about this in terms of other rewards and status. Do you need to be managing a team; do you want to be a technical expert? Is there a level within an organisation’s structure that is important to you?
5. Who are the people that I need to be around?
Having someone that gets you, encourages you, challenges you in a positive way, can make or break a job. Managers are the biggest contributing factor to an individual leaving a job. Understand what type of people enables you to thrive to blossom, to be your best. This does not need to be restricted to your leader, but also your colleagues, customers and suppliers.
If we can surround ourselves with people we enjoy interacting with it can make even the boring of tasks seem fun.
And here is your bonus question. What is your next step?
I started this blog by saying that you don’t need to have a clear plan to start a career change; the different parts will fall into place. What we do need, is to be willing to put one foot in front of the other and take our next step. A next step can be exploring an area you have identified as of interest and connecting with people in that industry. It can be talking to a person you feel a connection with. It could be identifying where your preferred skills are in demand.
Here's a thought...it could be joining a small group of people who are at a similar stage in their own careers on my Kick Start Your Career Change Mastermind and being guided through a process by myself that will help you get clarity and give you the confidence to move forward in your career change. If this is resonating with you take a look at all the details here.
If you found this blog useful take a look at these:
- What's your career change story?
- Am I having a midlife crisis or is it time to quit my job?
- Thinking of a Career Change, 5 Pitfalls to avoid.