Is it time for a career change?

This is a question that crosses the minds of SO many people at all stages of their careers. It’s a totally normal, and healthy, option to consider.

Maybe you feel stuck in your current position. Maybe you no longer find yourself interested or engaged in your work. Maybe you want to make more money and feel your current career doesn’t provide the income and lifestyle you really want to achieve.

You might also be working at something you once felt passionate about and have since lost interest in. We all encounter so many stages of ourselves and our lives, and craving a reinvention of self can be a good thing.

Whatever the reason may be–you got here, to this moment, to ask this question. You’re inching towards the edge of a new life, a new opportunity and a brave journey into the unknown.

That’s courageous and incredible.

It’s also scary as hell.

We get that.

There are a lot of things to consider before making the leap, and we know that can be overwhelming. So, here are a few questions to guide you through that process.

1. How will my life improve if I make this change?

Happy Asian florist working in cozy floral shop

This seems simple, but it’s important.

You need to know what you’re working towards, and having a clear picture of that will help more than you think.

So, what will improve?

Will you feel more empowering and purposeful in your work? Will you have the opportunity to be more creative like you’ve always wanted? Will you have more flexibility with your schedule? Will you make the income you desire to support the life you’ve always wanted? Will you be making a positive impact on the world and others as you’d once dreamed you would?

Find your central end goal, and focus on that as a guiding measure for all the risks and changes you choose.

2. What does my ideal day look like?

Concentrated young black woman working remotely on netbook while sitting in room at table and drinking coffee while petting dog

One step lower than your ultimate end-goal is considering what your end-state looks like, tactically speaking.

What is it you really want out of your days?

Do you want to interact with people or computers for most of the day? Do you want to work indoors or outdoors? Do you want the kind of job you can leave behind when you walk out the door, or do you want a career where you dive in head-first all the time? Do you see yourself traveling? Do you want to work from home, in the office or a combination of both?

Answer these questions as you map out your next steps and think about what it is you’re really looking for in a career shift, then align those qualities with the direction you want to head.

3. Can I make this shift within my industry or company?

Concentrated ethnic woman drawing sketch while sitting at table near sewing machine and dummy

You’d be surprised how much autonomy you have to adjust your current situation if you really get the ball in motion.

The career change you seek may not even require you to get a new job. You could even stay at your company.

Sometimes, it feels like you need to make a huge change when all you really need is to pivot. One of the secrets to financial success is job rotation but that does not have to also mean rotating industries or companies. Maybe you want to move out of accounting and into human resources. Maybe you’ve been a retail manager for years and you want to apply for a corporate position. Maybe you want to try a new creative decision or position but that isn’t available on your team.

Try to define what precisely it is that you are looking for in a new career and figure out if a less drastic change might actually fit the bill. And if it is, talk to your managers, mentors and colleagues to ask them how you can make the pivot.

4. Who do I have in my network that can help me with this change?

Group of young glad businesswomen in trendy elegant outfits smiling and discussing business strategy in contemporary workspace

Use your resources!

Ask around.

Networking can be a great way to find out more about other career fields if you have not yet decided what you want to do or to get your foot in the door as you make the change. Try spreading the word about the new position you’re seeking because you never know when someone’s friend’s uncle might be hiring and give you a chance.

Listen to advice and direction, these resources may also be able to guide you with education decisions or get you connected with the folks you need to make a change.

5. What education and training will I need?

Crop anonymous female listening to music in earphones while writing in notebook near bags on grass

When you know what you would like to do, you will then need to find out whether you need more education to do it.

This could be everything from a full graduate or undergraduate degree to exploring boot camp style training and online courses or certifications.

Education styles vary, and these days you can do most courses online.

That said, it’s a big adjustment.

The idea of going from the working world to being a student can feel strange, especially if you were earning a decent salary and you’re suddenly struggling to make ends meet. Keep in mind that you can pay for the degree you need in a number of ways, including through loans from private lenders. This brings us to our next point…

6. What changes or risks can I afford to make?

Crop payroll clerk counting money while sitting at table

This is very important to consider.

Think about what you can afford to risk to make this change. Maybe there are none! But if your career change does require additional educations or even relocation, these are important questions to ask.

Can you take some time off of work to focus on your education? Do you have the savings to afford to take additional courses now? Will you need to space it out? Do you need to move to a new area for better job opportunities in this field? Can you afford to do that now or later?

Think about these questions and plan for them as you take steps towards the career change you desire.

7. Can I “try out” this career change in any way? With a volunteer, freelance or cross-team collaboration?

National Volunteer Week 2020 - Habitat for Humanity

If you have not yet made up your mind about a change yet, one great way to potentially get a taste of what you are considering is by volunteering, freelancing or trying a new project.

Volunteering is a great way to try out the feeling of what you’re trying to achieve. This may not exactly replicate the experience you’re considering, but whether you are thinking of working with children, building houses or becoming a chef, there are almost certainly volunteer positions that can put you in a similar situation and let you get your feet wet without making a commitment.

The same goes for trying out freelancing projects or even co-op/internships. This gives you the opportunity to try out the new direction and see how it feels for you.

Cheerful ethnic female cafeteria owner in apron demonstrating cardboard signboard while standing near blue shabby door and windows after starting own business and looking at camera

Whatever you decide to do, remember that you deserve the MOST out of life and your career. Career changes can be terrifying. Of course, they can.

But they’re also very common, especially in today’s world with all the options we have presented to us. The days of picking a job when you’re eighteen and working forty years in that same role are long gone.

You can reinvent yourself. You can learn. You can pivot. You can grow.

You can always find a new direction.

Trust your gut, do your research, make a plan and think about these questions!

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