Changing careers… Just the idea of doing so generates a plethora of different feelings: Fear, envy, uncertainty, relief. The internet is crowded with career advise. Here’s some of my addition to it (laughing emoji)
To change careers means leaving the known for the unknown, the certain for the hypothetical, the concrete for the abstract, the real for the projected. It also implies facing the judgment of others.
But the best decision-maker is you, no one knows what you are going through at your work or feels what you feel every day.
Of course, you can listen to the kind advice of your loved ones, but don’t let their opinions influence you too much.
You are the captain of your soul, the master of your destinyNelson Mandela
Even those who love you sometimes project their fears and doubts. They don’t do it meanly but rather to protect you.
There’s a tale from a book written by Raphaëlle Giordano, which I find spot-on for the process of changing careers:
Once a year, in the kingdom of frogs, a race was organized. It had a different objective every time. That year, it was to reach the top of an old tower.Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One
All the frogs in the kingdom gathered for the event. The race started.
The spectator frogs, judging the height of the tower, did not think it was possible for the competitors to reach the top. And pessimistic comments started kicking in:
“Impossible, they’ll never make it! They’ll dry up before they’re up there”
Hearing the comments along the way, the competitors began to be discouraged one after the other.
All except a few who valiantly continued to climb.
The spectators kept saying, “Don’t bother! No one can do it. Look, almost everyone has given up!“
One of the remaining frogs admitted defeat.
The last one continued to climb against all odds. Alone and with an enormous effort, it reached the top of the tower!
Everyone, amazed, wanted to know how the frog got there. People from the crowd approached it and asked how it had reached the top.
And they discovered that the winner was… deaf!
Moral of the story: You’re better off avoiding the pessimism and skepticism of others.
In my personal experience, if I had listened to people’s opinions, I wouldn’t be writing to you right now. Others had great professional ambitions for me, but they were not my own.
Feeling Unsure About Your Passion
For some people, the career they want to switch into is something they’ve dreamed about for years – for others, they’ve never been sure about what they want to do, they just know they don’t want to do what they’re currently doing.
First, please remember that passion is overrated in your career. You need something that will provide you with interest and fulfillment– something you’re content to do on a daily basis. It also needs to provide you with the money to fund your lifestyle.
In order to find a career that works for you, I would suggest starting with personality tests, such as the Myers-Brigg Type Index or Enneagram. Look at the suggested careers for your personality type. What can you envision yourself doing?
The second thing you need to know is your values. What do you value in life? What career fields support those values? For example, if you value knowledge, you might find fulfillment in teaching.
Once you’ve come up with a list of potential careers, start reaching out to people who are doing those things. Let them know you’re interested in their career path. Ask if you can job shadow or discuss their career over lunch.
If there are courses about your potential career field, consider signing up to get a taste of what it’s about. This may also help you get started with the necessary qualifications.
This is something many people get caught up in. When you start considering everything you must do in order to switch careers, it can seem to be a daunting task.
Start small. Pick one thing that you can easily achieve. You may need to find a task that can break down into smaller steps that are easily achievable.
It could be as simple as updating your CV/résumé. It could be making a list of things you would really enjoy and looking into the details on each one to find out if this is a possible career choice.
When you’re caught in a cycle of overthinking, the best way to get started moving past it is by taking action. Even one small step forward can help break the cycle.
Exercises to Develop a Career and Life Vision
Fast Forward: Envision Your Life’s Legacy
- What and/or whom did I impact or change?
- Secondly, What were my major accomplishments?
- Then, What did I show dedication or commitment to? What was I passionate or enthusiastic about?
- FInally, What character traits and values did I consistently demonstrate over my lifetime?
Peaks and Valleys: Uncover What Energizes You
- Peaks (3 minutes): Write down a situation in your life — whether you were at work, at home, or elsewhere — when you felt completely energized and fulfilled. What were you doing? Who was present, and what was going on?
- Valleys (3 minutes): Write down a situation in your life that you really disliked or found demotivating and unsatisfying. What were you doing? Who was present, and what was going on?
- Discussion and reflection: Describe your peaks to a friend or confidant. Ask them to listen for what these stories say about you and about what matters most to you. When did your energy rise or fall? Have them reflect your insights back to you.
Final Thoughts –
One of my favorite poems has always been Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” In it, he expresses his feelings about choosing one path (a career) and considering the impact it has on life – “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
It’s worth remembering though that just because you have been doing something does not mean you are stuck in that path forever. Roads diverge and fork and sometimes, you can even return back to where you turned off and choose the other road.
It’s never too late to change your career. There might be obstacles in the way, but every obstacle can be overcome. The important thing is that you find something that interests you and that aligns with your personal values.