By the time they come to me, most of my clients are epically restless. They’re itching to change ‘something’ or ‘everything‘ career-wise.
To kick-start a successful shift, find the answers to these three questions. If you’re keen for a new career move, perhaps they’ll help you figure out how to begin.
What has to go – your job or your career?
Work out the size and scale of the shift you need. Get to grips with the sources of your discontent.
If your biggest blahs are an incompatible boss or inflexible hours or a cramped workspace, perhaps it’s the job. If you still love your ‘work’ but your job has lost its lustre it’s probably time for a side step.
Alternatively, if you’re googling qualifications and starting salaries for something entirely new and imaging a radically reinvented you – maybe it’s the career.
Where do you even start?
Once you’ve answered the ‘job vs. career change’ question, it’s natural to be inspired and impatient in equal measures.
Like every other transformative thing we do, career change calls for curiosity and courage and a mix of head and heart driven decisions.
There are millions of mysterious, unexplored careers out there. How are you supposed to know which ones might work for you? Lack of knowledge about what’s possible is one of the biggest early hurdles career changers need to clear.
Here are the nine things I did when I knew I couldn’t stay in a career I’d outgrown.
One of them involves some forensic reflection to find out what makes you buzz. Another involves getting out there and investigating potentially buzz-worthy careers that may not have made it onto your radar before you went forensic.
I started by spending a month watching and listening for anything that sparked my interest. I mapped the articles that captured me on social media, and topics that swelled my stack of bedside reading. I charted issues that pushed me towards my personal soapbox and podcasts that grabbed my attention. This was the groundwork for getting clear about what I’m drawn to in the world, where career change clues might lie.
Then, after spending a longish time down my virtual rabbit hole, I went out into the real world. Because however much you want to, you can’t change career sitting behind your desk. I ditched my fear of looking foolish and drank tea with heaps of kind, supportive people in jobs and sectors that interested me (even just a tiny bit). This is how I learnt about careers I’d never heard of, and got deep insights into their day-to-day reality.
In short, I grew my knowledge and networks and landed some great opportunities. While Google got me started, it could never have delivered any of this.
It also helps to approach career change like a jigsaw. It needs the same combinations of patience and pattern spotting and intuition and logic. So if figuring out and following your new path feels like a long slow process, remind yourself that realising any ‘grand design’ takes time and tenacity.
How will you fund your career change?
Fear of financial ruin is a prime concern for most of my clients. How can you hunt down a more fulfilling job without shredding the lifestyle you love or even keep food on the table?
As with all fears, it is best to stare this one down.
In fact, ‘running the numbers’ helps you feel competent and in control – two feelings that often desert us temporarily during a career change. Furthermore, few things are as empowering as stuffing your money demons back in their box with a solid plan to fund your career change.
Start with a serious budget.
Pin down exactly what you need to cover your basics. Can you save by cutting back on some things straight away? Do you need to stay put and save to fund time off to figure things out or train?
Could you work part-time while you test a business idea or transition into a new area? Could you set up a side project at or outside of work?