Career change is one of the most difficult challenges you will encounter during your lifetime. Your problem is complex — you dislike what you do, you don’t know what you want to do, you’ll crash and burn if something doesn’t change, and yet you are paralyzed by fear of the unknown and continue to stagnate.
Career transition shouldn’t happen in one big leap
Many view career change as an all or nothing event instead of a continuous process.
People are under the misconception that you must cease doing your current work to achieve what you want in the future. This line of thinking is flawed and can cause a lot of undue stress.
Career change doesn’t need to happen in one big leap. It could take months or years to make a successful career change. Switching careers is not easy as picking a new line of work, updating your resume, networking with people and hoping for the best outcome.
First, you need to explore why you feel unfulfilled. Is it the work, the environment, the industry or a combination of all three?
Each of these variables can have a dramatic impact on your career direction. Gaining self-awareness in these areas, will give you the foundation you need to explore all of your career possibilities, investigate various career paths, and trial new work prior to making a long-term commitment.
Time is on your hands
Give yourself permission to explore all of the things that interest you. If you like working with metals, write down all of the things you could do with metals such as creating artistic sculptures, making jewelry or crafting unique frames.
Experiment with different ideas until you find the one thing that excites you. Refrain from putting a time limit on how long this should take. Some people can make decisions quickly while others take weeks or months to crystallize their thoughts.
Investigate Your Options
Once you clarify what you want to do (and can do), begin to investigate specific options and learn what steps are required to kick-start your career transition. During this phase, your goal is to get a better idea of the work, industries and fields that interest you. You can go about this using a variety of methods including:
- Learning about specific occupations by using the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook at www.bls.gov/oco
- Finding a mentor in your area of interest
- Conducting informational interviews with people in your desired field
- Attending professional associations
- Networking in your local community
It is important to crystallize the specific requirements that will enable you to have a successful outcome. Take your time doing the necessary research required to make an informative decision. Be sure to seek the following information:
- The required credentials to become proficient in your new area of expertise
- The types and number of companies in your area that hire people in your field
- The minimum investment required to kick-start your transition
- Opportunities to work part-time or as a volunteer
- An understanding of new skills, knowledge or abilities needed to successful
Try the New Role
Don’t just leap into a whole new career. Try the work to learn more about it before you make the final transition. This will give you the opportunity to understand thoroughly if this new career is right for you before jumping in with two feet. For example:
- To learn more about product marketing, ask a friend if you can job shadow him for a few days
- To become a metals artist, volunteer in a metals studio part-time on the weekends
- If engineering is on your radar, attend a training session or pick up a book and write code for an application
- Volunteer your time and talents at a non-profit if you are trying to break into web design, or create web sites for family members
Perseverance is a necessity for success
Career change is scary and can make your feel overwhelmed, thrown off balance and even angry with yourself and others.
When these feelings emerge, ask yourself why. If, for example, you had a date set to job shadow a metals artist and she didn’t show up, remind yourself that it’s not personal or intentional. Use the power of thoughts and words to balance your insecurity about the unknown with positive praise for taking on such a life-changing event.
Career change should affect your life positively, in meaningful and significant ways. Believe in yourself and you can achieve your career goals. It won’t happen overnight. The most successful career changers start by taking small steps toward their professional goals.
So stop wondering about the life you could have and start leading the life you want to live. Commit to yourself and begin your journey today.