If your current job doesn’t fit you, and you’re yearning for a shift, don’t despair. It’s easier than you think to move in a new direction.
First, you need to realize that the sexy stories about overnight transformations and lightning bolt flashes of insights are just that: anomalies. Sure, they happen, but for the rest of us mere mortals, there’s a more systematic process.
Look To Your Past For Clues
Reflect on the spikes in your engagement. What are the threads that run through the projects that put a sparkle in your eye? In one of the first sessions I have with career explorers, I ask clients to outline their top three career highs and get into storytelling mode about them. Narrate them as if you’re by the campfire and you have a captive audience. Where did the thrill start? Who was with you? What were you doing? Find those patterns and capture them so that you can pull them forward into what you want next in your career.
Dream Into Your Future
Imagine your ideal day, from the moment you wake up (where are you in the world, who’s with you, what time is it?) to the time you head out for work (how do you get there, how long does it take, are you stopping for coffee, heading to the gym first, on a sweet walk with your kids as they head out for school first?), where do you work (home, Cube-Ville, outside – at a construction site, national park, CSA) and who’s with you? What are others around you doing? Are they colleagues, customers, students?
I have a guided meditation available for free on my web site to take you through this process, but you can easily journal it for yourself. If you find yourself stuck on some of the details, note that spot and move on. Let your ideas flow and use what you do know. You can always loop back to the stuck spots later and dig into them.
Talk To People
For the introverts who just cringed at this suggestion, fear not. When you’re in an exploratory process, people love to talk about themselves and how they go to where they are. You can send questions via email, scour the internet for interviews of people in the jobs that you’re researching, and gather information in whatever format that suits you and your strengths.
They key here is to engage with people who are doing what you want to do. Not the hiring authorities, not the people who teach in programs designed to prepare people for what you want to do, but the people in the jobs you covet.
You will find out some freakishly useful information. You’ll learn the nuances of the jobs you’re seeking, the inside track to getting your foot in the door, the people to know, the training to pursue (and what to avoid). Most important of all, you’ll learn how you respond to what you’re learning. Do you want to dive in deeper or back slowly towards the door? Use your own resonance as your gps system and steer accordingly. And if you find yourself overwhelmed with negativity and objections, take a look at Are You Too Picky In Your Job Search?
Invest In Yourself (Not Just With Money)
Most people at this point start researching degree programs at their local universities, but I want to encourage you to take a hard look at this question. If you can make even a small case for bypassing an expensive degree program (I know, this won’t work for neurosurgeon), it’s worth finding alternate routes. How can you equip yourself with the skills you need using other mechanisms? Volunteer, certificate program or tech boot camp, self-study, mentoring, apprenticeship. Really probe and make inquiries, particularly of people who are in the positions you’re exploring. They’ll tell you whether a university degree is a worthwhile investment or an expensive detour.
It’s not really a leap to get from here to there. It’s more like a series of steps, and when you break it down into concrete, bite-sized pieces, you can pull it off. Don’t give up on yourself. A year from now, you could be in an entirely different place.
This post was originally published on an earlier date.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock