You’ve moved past restlessness into the “Must Switch Gears” phase of your career. You know that if you wait any longer, you’ll become bitter and jaded. It’s time.
People stand on this precipice thinking that their next move is a leap – the more dramatic, the better. They often find themselves paralyzed because the jump is too scary. But the truth is, when you’re at this point, you need to get focused and gather data. You need to know exactly where you’re going before you can embark on your journey.
Related: 5 Tips For Planning A Career Change
If you only know that you want to get away, it’s like going to the airport for a trip without a ticket. You can’t just leave where you’ve been, you’ve got to know where you’re going.
Recently, I talked to new client, and he said, “I have some serious constraints in my job search. I need to be within a 30-minute commute of my home, I have a specific job title in mind, and I know I want to be in high tech.” He was apologizing for being too picky, and I was applauding him for being so focused.
If this client’s example freaks you out because how to even begin to describe what you want, don’t worry. First, you’re not alone. You’re not deficient. There’s nothing wrong with you. You just haven’t had a structured approach to exploring what lights you up plus what the market is buying.
Your first step is the process is to decide what you want. Before you can go out there looking for it, you’ve got to know what it is.
The optimal exercise to begin to outline what you want is to walk through your ideal work day. Get quiet and centered and imagine yourself on a typical work day a year from now (or use whatever time frame feels appropriate for you). Walk through every moment of the day:
- What time do you wake up? Where are you – geographically in the world (what are the weather conditions?)? What’s your home look like? Who are you with? Do you wake up naturally or does the alarm go off?
- What’s your morning routine? Are you getting kids off to school? Working out? Attending to your pets? Include every detail down to what you’re wearing. I once did this exercise with a client who looked down at the shoes she was wearing, and that gave her a pivotal clue about her work.
- How do you get to work? Do you even leave the house (maybe you work at home)? How long does it take? What’s your mode of transportation? What’s your energy? Are you rushed, multi-tasking on the commuter train?
- Where do you work? Who’s around you? What are they doing? Describe this scene as if you were watching it in a movie.
- What are you doing? What tools or equipment are you using? How do you know you’re doing a good job? I once did this exercise with a client, and she had children’s drawings on the walls of her office that were given to her in gratitude for her work – she knew exactly the work she was meant to do from that image alone.
- Walk through all of the other details of your day: your lunch, your trip home, how you spend your leisure time, what you’re eating, who you’re with. It all adds up to a picture of what you want to create for yourself.
It’s important to harvest what you’ve learned from this exercise, so share it with someone who can focus on you and help you pull out the important details. That person may be a friend or family member, and if you’re not sure who to ask to help you distill your learning, consider asking a career coach for guidance in unpacking what you’ve discovered.
Use this information to inform your path. It’s your first step on your journey to a new you in a new career.
Maggie Graham | Coach
Career coach Maggie Graham banishes Credential Gremlins in her forthcoming book Skip the Next Degree: Career Change without Debt and Despair. She points mid-career professionals in the direction of their next steps and defines a road map to take them there. Job seekers will find an ally when they seek support for landing their next positions.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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