In last month’s 4 day Career Change Bootcamp, we had a number of people sign up who were curious about a career change but hadn’t yet concluded if this is what they really wanted.  And so aligned with my mission to help people find solutions to career challenges this edition of the blog is geared to helping people get clear if it really is a career change they seek.

When we start to feel a growing disconnect with a job and organisation that we use to love it can feel extremely uncomfortable and we can feel confused about our future.  Like a relationship, maybe you find yourself questioning is it me or is it them.  Perhaps you try to convince yourself that is a temporary blip,” it’s been a tough couple of years; just get your head down and get through the Winter” or “you’re just tired and need a break”– is this sounding familiar?

So how do you figure out if a career change is the answer?  Here are 5 questions to help you find clarity.

1.  What is causing this disconnect?

What is behind this growing disconnect, if we can be clear on the drivers it can help us to understand what actions are going to help us move forward.  One of the best ways I recommend clients to do this is, is to write down all of their frustrations with the job.  A word of caution here, as you are about to focus on all the negative aspects of your career, we don’t want this to pull us into a negative spiral, to avoid this set the timer for 5 minutes maximum.

As you look through the list see if there are any common themes.  For example, it may be more directed around people that you work with, or maybe the actual work you are doing.   As you review the list are the challenges more about you and the way you work, perhaps around your ability to ask for help, to put boundaries in place?  If this is the case, the work you need to do maybe more about your style of working and how you start to take control of your career.

Are the frustrations more specific to the company or the role?  Review your list and ask yourself, if I was to move companies would these frustrations follow me?  If you can largely attribute your frustrations to the responsibilities of the role then continuing to do more of the same is not the answer.  If however, it is more about the Company then maybe moving to a different Company and industry could be enough. 

Let’s see if we can take this a step further.

2.  What is this disconnect costing you?

Now imagine that you are still in this situation in 2 years or even 5 years’ time.  Reflect on how this would make you feel and specifically think about what would be the implications of staying put to your health, your wellbeing, and your relationships.  Is this something you are happy to accept?

So now we have clarity on the issues and the impact it is having let us understand what could be the right course of action for you.

3.  Why do you want to make a career change?

In some instances, a job can be fine, and staying put isn’t going to carry a significant burden.  However, it may be that you want more for yourself, something that fulfils you and gives you a great sense of achievement and enables you to be your true self.

Your next step is, to be honest with yourself on why you want a career change?  What do you want this career change to provide for you that is missing.  When answering this consider it in the context of your whole life.  What is it you want to be able to do, to have and who do you want to be?  Write everything down that your mind conjures up for you, big and small.

4.  Is it a career change or something else?

As you look at the changes you want to bring to your life are they really about your job or other things, such as relationships, your emotional wellbeing or self-esteem.  Now time for a bit of soul searching, is it a career change you really want or is it something else in your life that you need to make changes to?  A key question to help you with this is ‘if I was happier in my career would I meet my why (will it take you closer to the things you have identified in question 4)?  Because our careers are something unique to us and we have control over, sometimes we can focus on making changes here when in actual fact the reality is something else that may be bigger or we perceive as being harder to change.  

5.  What is your heart saying?

Is it that you know in your heart you want something else, but because you don’t know how to make it possible the fear and doubt are kicking in?  If someone showed you how to figure out what else you could do and how to transition and reduce the risk of making bad decisions would you be ready to take the leap?

If the fear of the unknown, the lack of a plan and a process to get answers is holding you back then this is where a career change specialist can help you.  Believing that something is achievable can be half the battle, hearing how other people have made the transition and realizing they are just like you can be powerful and inspiring take a look here.

As you reflect on what you have learnt from working through these questions what do you believe is the right course of action for you?

"Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end" - Robin S. Sharma

Any change can be challenging, whether it is making changes in other parts of your life, or taking steps to make your job work better for you or indeed making a career change, it can be tough.  Because something is hard, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it and it’s not something you have to do alone.  Find the support you need whether that’s a friend, family member or a coach. 

If you found this useful you may also be interested in the following:

How to get from A to B in a Career Change

The Reality of not Feeling Valued in your Career

What Makes a Successful Career Change?