Career Change Ahead? Four Simple Steps to Prepare

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in Career | 0 comments

 

 

 

 “And then the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” — Anais Nin.

I am reminded of this quote during our gorgeous spring season, when blossoms seem to appear out of nowhere. Of course, those blossoms have been in the works during the cold and stark winter months — when it seems that new growth, much less blossoms, is far-fetched or even impossible.

Career change often begins during a sort of personal winter, when a career feels dry or lifeless. Most of us sense when change is inevitable, but fear prevents us from taking action. Change, especially when it comes to our careers, can be scary and risky. Do I try something new or stay with the familiar? What if I make the wrong decision? We may debate these questions until life circumstances show up to make the decision for us: Your company suddenly reorganizes, leaving you with a job ill-suited to your talents. Technological changes in your industry leave you with no job at all. The stress of your workload creates health issues you can’t ignore.

Career change doesn’t have to be a blind leap off a steep cliff. If you’re feeling the icy coldness of a career winter, here are some things you can do to prepare for it.

  1. Create and maintain a notebook about yourself. Make the notebook a living document where you record what you like and dislike. What skills do you like using? What kind of people do you dislike working with? What kind of work environment motivates you? What are your Top Ten Must Haves in a job? What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? What do you love learning about?
  1. Develop a comprehensive work history. Here, you can list job titles, dates, and duties. What specific accomplishments did you achieve? What skills did you develop? Keep an ongoing list that you update quarterly. Don’t limit yourself to hard skills such as increasing a sales number or improving profitability. In what soft skills did you find yourself excelling, even if they weren’t part of your official job description? Maybe coworkers commented on your teamwork or listening ear or dependability. Write down even passing feedback from coworkers, bosses, and clients. Then consider negative feedback, too. What kernel might be accurate in that feedback? What might you learn about yourself that could be helpful?
  1. Consider short-term goals to invigorate yourself. If you’re feeling dissatisfied with your job, you may be coasting. Challenge yourself to step up your performance so you can make a change because YOU want to, not because of declining performance. What abilities could you improve in your current job that might be valuable in the next career? Be proactive about your situation now so you’re ready for what’s around the corner.
  1. Consider working with a career coach to evaluate options and create long-term career goals. A coach can help you assess risks realistically, identify other potential career fields, and develop targeted skills. Engaging a career coach before you are in crisis is not only more productive, but lots more fun!

 

These strategies will help you lay the groundwork for making an informed career change. They are also much easier to do when you are not in a career crisis. Think of them as the safety net that will appear if you do decide to take a leap.

 

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