At some point, we all wonder if we are on the right career path and we see many candidates who are actively seeking to change because they decided they were not. Some candidates do nothing and stay where they are, some take it a step further, and some go the whole hog and throw themselves into ‘project career change’ wholeheartedly. There is nothing wrong with any of these paths as long as you have really considered your position.
When you decide to look at your career with a view to changing things, you need to avoid the ‘Reggie Perrin’ trap. For those of you who don’t remember, Reggie was the lead character in a show about a man who became so bored with the 9 to 5 commuter life that he faked his own death to escape it. Rule number one if you are thinking about changing careers is do not be like Reggie, because a huge, life-wrenching change, is probably not practical or possible for most of us.
Start by asking why?
Sometimes when you are at a crossroads, you need to understand how you got there to know which route to take. When you find yourself in at the decision point of whether to change your career path, the first thing to do is honestly evaluate why? If you are simply going through a bit of a stressful time at work or a temporary hiccup in an otherwise perfectly fine career, then a big change is probably not needed. If, on the other hand, you honestly evaluate things and come up with a solid answer such as you are not happy because you feel unfulfilled, have no job satisfaction, financially in a dead end, need a better work-life balance, or similar, then you may well want to consider a change. Always treat this kind of decision with caution – it is important.
Take some positive action
Now sit down, make a cup of tea, relax, maybe put on some music in the background and run through this list calmly, at your own pace, and above all else, logically. You should write everything down as you go as well.
Realistically – what are your skills and abilities?
This is a critical point. There is no point in looking to move to a career that you are simply not cut out for. From the end of this decision-making process, you will be committed to a change that will potentially affect the rest of your life. Start with a logical assessment of what you can currently do well or have experience in. Go back as far as you like in your life. It is not uncommon, for example, for people with a degree in a specific area to end up in a very different job. Everything you learned though is probably still relevant to your initial goals. Think long and hard about your current role and work history and make sure you are listing everything, so you have a good overview.
Honestly – What do you want to do?
Go ‘blue sky’ here. Do not limit your imagination and instead write down any job or activity you could happily spend your working day doing. Sometimes this will be easy and sometimes this may surprise you. If you always wanted to teach scuba diving, write it down. If you fancy being a tour guide, write it down. If you just know you want to want to work in HR but not the specific role, write it down. Tired of working outdoors? Write it down. What we are doing here is throwing everything into the pot.
Practically – How do the first two things fit together?
We are not trying to crush your dreams here, just put them in perspective. If you want to be an accountant, you will need certain skills and qualifications. There is no way around that fact. If your reason for a career change is to free up time for a personal project than you need to rule out roles that will not allow it. This stage is all about narrowing down possibilities.
Now create a list from the above. It can be in whatever format suits you but whichever way you do it, write two additional, very specific, columns called ‘Gains’ and ‘Sacrifices’. These are really important because they are the balance you will use to decide if your career change path is worth the potential difficulties it could bring. In ‘Gains’ you may put things like ‘I will move to management’ or similar. In the ‘Sacrifices,’ you may need to write ‘Short term I will need to take a lower wage to gain experience’ and so on. Imagine you are five years down your career path and doing your ideal career. Now list how you got there and what it cost you.
Finally, you now need help. At this point, you really need some outside influence. So, come and see us with your list and let us help you refine it. What we will do is work with you on the ‘Why’ to get you on the path to the career that you really want. Usually, this is not simply about finance or not wanting to commute in the morning, it is about wanting to make a significant life change.
Whatever you decide, we are here for you and waiting to help.