How to change your career and your life

Does the mere thought of your career cause you to feel anxious? If so, you certainly aren’t the only one. It’s an undeniably stress inducing subject and most of us will be plagued by thoughts like am I earning as much as I might? Is this really what I envisaged for myself when I was a kid? The subject is often surrounded by a difficult combination of emotions that might encompass practical, often financial, concerns and your own sense of self-esteem.

We’ve all been in interviews where that familiar question ‘where do you see yourself in a year / five years time’ comes up. The truth is many of us really don’t know. It all seems much more straightforward when you’re a kid and quite happy to say with some certainty “I want to be a Fireman when I grow up”. Adult life tends to make things more complicated.

Perhaps you find yourself stuck in a job that’s becoming more and more of a drag – as the days roll by and you can’t shrug that troubling sense of ennui you might feel you’ve ended up in a career cul-de-sac. Firstly, you’re not alone – research shows that 15% of us would like a different job. Don’t be afraid to reassess, think about what it is you really want to be doing with your life and why not reconnect with that childhood sense of adventure?

If you are one of the many who really doesn’t know what it is they want to be doing think about it systematically – write down what you like and don’t like about your current position, list your interests, what you perceive your strengths and skills to be and what you want from a future role. At this point you can think of this list as a launch pad to giving some creative thought to what jobs might match your results. Scan through the job listings section of a paper or a jobs website like Fish4jobs for inspiration.

Hopefully this process might unearth a few possibilities you hadn’t previously thought of. Now it’s time to narrow it down a bit, try ranking the various possibilities having given each one a bit of serious thought. Look at the pro’s and cons of each job – try to find out about salary expectations, how many vacancies are currently out there, if you need any further training, or just whether you are instinctively drawn to the idea. Most importantly do a bit of research – find out as much as you can about what the job actually involves and how much it tallies with your original conception. You may find the process has been inspiration or else at least helped you eliminate a possible direction.

Having hopefully identified a new career path that feels both exiting and practically feasible give some thought to what it might take to make the change. Don’t take it too lightly though, remember a change of career can be a slow and laborious process – a new career can mean a new life and this isn’t going to come without a few complications and a bit of effort.

Copyright (c) 2007 Jay Smith