Considering a career change?
There are five important questions you need to ask yourself before taking the leap.
Picture this…it’s Monday morning, 7 a.m. Your alarm goes off. You hit the snooze button for the fifth time in a row. You can barely muster the motivation to roll out of bed. When you finally pull yourself together, there is an all too familiar foreboding feeling in your gut. You leave the house, already defeated, as you force yourself to face another day at the job you dread. Sound familiar? If so, maybe it is time to make a career change.
But the decision to change your career can be a daunting deliberation. How do you know it’s not just a temporary feeling? And is it really worth it to take the leap into something new? When is the right time to make the move? Just thinking about a career change can bring up questions like these, mixed with anxiety about an unknown future and a fear of letting go of what you have. The uncertainty can either hold you back in trepidation or propel you to discover what lies ahead.
Take some time for self-reflection
I don’t know where you are right now, but you arrived at this blog post for a reason. Maybe you’ve been in the same career for 20 years and you are just burnt out or looking for a fresh start. Perhaps you enjoy your co-workers and work environment but don’t feel settled in the role you are in. Maybe you are looking for more fulfillment and purpose in your career that your current job does not provide for you. Whatever it is that brought you here, listen to that small voice. Embrace your intuition. Allow it to motivate you to take the first step toward a career you love.
If you are at a crossroads with your current job, taking the time to reflect is important. If possible, turn off your distractions, take advantage of naptime if you have little ones, and set aside at least an hour of uninterrupted time. Find a quiet spot. Grab a notebook and your favorite pen, and start digging into these key questions below. Don’t rush it. This is an opportunity for life changing breakthroughs. I hope this little self-discovery exercise brings some clarity for you. I hope it inspires enthusiasm for change that helps you find more joy and purpose in your career.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when considering a career change:
1. Why am I considering a career change?
The “why” behind a decision can be a very revealing realization. Think about if you are running away from something or running towards something. If you are simply running away from something because it is difficult, a career change might not be the answer. Instead, it may be an opportunity to lean into a challenge and grow from it. I often find that when I run from a difficult situation, the same trial will just pop up somewhere else in my life in a different form. But when I push through the challenge and look for the lesson wrapped up inside it, I can move forward, stronger and wiser. There is always a lesson in there if you are intentional about searching for it. Running from obstacles doesn’t often teach us anything except to remain fearful and avoidant of facing difficulties in the future.
If you feel you are running towards something, however, that is a different story. Perhaps you have aspirations that you put on hold due to difficult circumstances or just not feeling ready. Now may be the time to chase those dreams with unwavering focus.
2. What type of career fits my personality?
It is important to consider your personality when thinking about a career change. Take a moment to list some of your personality traits, focusing on your passions and skills. Here are a few questions to help get your list started:
- What do people come to you for help with?
- What are you often recognized for?
- How do you love to spend your free time?
- What subject could you talk about non-stop?
Being in a role that isn’t suited for your natural strengths can make you feel completely drained at the end of the day. For instance, I am an artistic, creative, and highly imaginative individual. I joke sometimes that I’m all right brained, and the left side of my brain may even be missing. If I picture myself in a career as an electrical engineer or a database administrator, I imagine it would not leave me feeling very fulfilled. Not to mention, I’d probably be fired within a week. My career as a graphic artist, however, compliments both my personality and my competencies.
When you are in a job that aligns with how you are naturally wired, the work becomes energizing instead of draining. Think about your unique skills and passions, where they intersect, and pinpoint that sweet spot as you consider a career that would bring you fulfillment. Be sure you are taking into account both your skills and passions. You could be very passionate about piano music, but if you don’t have the skills to actually play piano, a career as a concert pianist probably isn’t in the cards for you.
Frank James created this video below on the best jobs to suit each Myers-Briggs personality type. Discover your Myers-Briggs personality by taking the test.
3. Am I ready to learn something new to make a career change?
Often when making a drastic career change to a new industry or field, it requires going back to school or learning a new skill. Ask yourself if this is something you are willing to put the time and effort into. Depending on your situation, it’s possible that you may need to carve out time for learning before stepping away from your current career. That could mean dedicating nights and weekends to preparing for your new career. Decide if you ready and able to make a temporary commitment to train for a new endeavor.
4. Does the career change I am considering align with my goals and priorities?
Take a moment to step back and really think about the future you desire. Picture your life in 10 years, and ask yourself:
- What do I hope to be doing?
- What do I want to achieve?
- What is most important to me?
Identify Your Priorities
Family time may be a big priority for you, especially when you have young children. If so, a career that offers flexible hours could be ideal for you. Or maybe it is important to you to have purpose and meaning behind the work that you do. Stepping into a career in teaching or a public service industry could provide the opportunity to make a difference in the world.
Strike a Balance Between Priorities and Goals
Goals and priorities go hand and hand. Perhaps one of your goals is to have enough money in savings to retire early. With that goal in mind, you may need to prioritize financial stability over something else like job satisfaction. Think about what you are willing to sacrifice to reach your goals and which priorities are non-negotiable. For example, you may have a high level of job satisfaction in your role as a missionary, but the salary might not be enough to help you achieve your goal of early retirement.
Once you’ve clearly identified your goals and priorities, think about how a career change will align with both. Will the career you are considering move you closer to the future you envision, or will it set you back?
5. What’s holding me back?
You may feel deep down inside that the career you are in now is not the right one for you, but you still can’t bring yourself to take the steps necessary to make a change. Try to determine if the things holding you back are there to protect you or if they are obstacles to overcome. If you find that the things holding you back are negative emotions (like fear of the unknown, guilt about leaving, or feelings of inadequacy around learning something new) this is probably an opportunity to push through an obstacle rather than a warning sign to turn around.
A career change is a big decision. Take your time to think about it.
Making a big life change can be overwhelming. The decision to make a career change is not one to make hastily. Do your research. Seek out counsel from people you trust. Take the time and space to process what you are feeling. Consider your needs and desires. Think about what your preferred future looks like. When you read over the answers you’ve written down, I hope they help guide you toward a career that perfectly fits your goals, personality, and lifestyle…and one that brings you great joy!
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