“You’ve got to find what you love… The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Steve Jobs
Why is it that in a time when we have so many job opportunities and so many ways to create a meaningful and rewarding career, we find that nearly half of those surveyed say they’re in jobs they would trade today if they could?
The modern workplace is afflicted with two career dilemmas – a plague of job dissatisfaction and the related uncertainty about how to choose the ‘perfect’ career.
Your career is more than a job. It’s the place where you can combine your passion, create purpose and be rewarded. How many of us can say we have all these in an environment that’s supports us? Why is this so elusive?
Here are some ideas and actions you can do each week, over a month, to help you start to redesign your career and to leave you re-energised and confident to start to find your career sweet spot.
Stop thinking there’s one perfect job out there for everyone
This single biggest myth of the 21st century has created endless job dissatisfaction. The pursuit for the one job that will make your life perfect… but you just need to find it!Worse still, you become paralyzed with fear after you’ve spent all this time looking for the one perfect job, only to feel disappointed when you land roles that just don’t fit you.
So the first thing you can do is to think about exploring and creating a lifestyle that meets your needs and then think about how work fits around this.
Know that changing careers means changing ourselves
No career change will magically materialize out of the blue. It will take effort, extending into the unknown, living with uncertainty, and experiencing confusion and mini realizations along the way. So get ready now as making a career change means reflecting, exploring discovering and reintegrating these possibilities into our new selves.
Start to collect some D.A.T.A
Want to change jobs, but don’t know where to start?To get yourself out of this bind and off the merry-go–round of wanting something new but thinking you only know how to do an ‘old’ role or job, start by collecting some D.A.T.A. Together, your Desires, Abilities, Temperament and Assets will provide clues to help redesign your worklife. The goal is to find a role that is more psychologically suited to where you are in your life and what you really want now out of life.
Discover your natural talents
An interesting way to discover these is to ask others who know you well like your family, friends and coworkers and get as many perspectives as you can. Ensure they understand the purpose and then ask - What do you see as my special talent, ability or gift?; If I were on the cover of Time Magazine, what would the article title be?; When am I most expressing this talent, gift or ability?; What did I do for fun as a child?
Find out when you feel most productive and satisfied
Do a diagnostic that can help match your personality type with particular roles. These tools are designed to help understand and appreciate your temperament and strengths so you can work from these rather than your weaknesses. They can help to find your strengths and offer insights, particularly when we are confused about roles that we may not have otherwise considered.
Work off your assets
What advantages do you have or aspects of your work history, life situation or achievements could you turn to an advantage? These could include savings you could use to start a business, a great network, good relationships, knowledge of the industry, a database of clients and a reputation in your field. All of these are as a result of your past achievements and efforts and will support you in this next stage.
Check your mindset
People who succeed are said to have a ‘growth mindset’, they see their skills as something that can be developed through their dedication and effort. No one has ever accomplished great things without years of passion, practice and learning. Listen to your mindset voice, recognise you have a choice when you face challenges, learn from your setbacks and ask, ‘what can I do to improve on this?’
Do your own S.W.O.T
By now you’re ready to think about your approach to a career change by assessing your current situation through a SWOT analysis. Draw 4 boxes. The top 2 boxes – strengths and weaknesses – are about your personal qualities and characteristics and internal factors. The bottom 2 boxes - opportunities and threats - are about your practical circumstances and external factors. This type of activity is widely used by coaches to help assess the internal and external factors that may be helping or hindering you moving into a new career.
Recognise the value of small steps during career transition
As we start to dip into career action, start with small steps and see where they lead. This exploring could be through starting new projects, meeting new people, short courses to pick up new skills, considering pro bono work and simply investing time in things we enjoy doing. While this might seem slow, these small changes are assisting us to start to gather valuable information, prioritise and build self-awareness.
Overcome the inhibitors and embrace the challenges
If the idea of changing careers is not making you a bit fearful, then check your pulse.About the time when you start to come up with concrete options, a small voice starts to say, ‘Yes but…You’ve heard this before… You can’t do it… no way… what on earth are you thinking?’. The ‘Yes, but’ thinking is a great way to avoid change.So know that taking on the unknown is bound to create anxiety. Your success rests on acknowledging and managing this fear.
Consider the cost of your career change
Have you thought about“how much is enough?” in relation to how to maximize your wealth and wellbeing.The cost of your career change is also about valuing time with your family and pursing your passions. So think about your relationship to money and whether your finances is the factor that most often keeps you in unfulfilling roles and keeps you stuck when considering a career change.
Think about your personal budget
What do you need to have, would like to have and can give up if it meant you could have a work arrangement that you wanted? If you are unclear about where to start then keep a Budget Journal for one month. Write down everything you spend money on – it’s important to keep detailed records so you can really see where the money is going. Then try listing these as either a “Must have” verses “Can give up” to determine if the quality of your life would really change.
Remember you are in a big club
Don’t think you need to do this alone. There are many people in midlife or midcareer that are tweaking their careers. Find people who you can seek guidance and support from. Who could you talk to regularly whose opinions you trust, like a mentor, who can give you objective advice? Talk to people who are in the industry or have specialised knowledge in the career you are exploring. Find groups through meet-ups, industry associations, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Expand your network
Resist the urge to do all your career research online. Get out and talk to people in person. Making connections is not about getting a job, (although it can be). It’s about extending the range and creating new possibilities, learning about new roles and other fields and identifying key people of influence.
Start with a side project
The aim is to discover if that idea you really love, can work in reality. If you think of this as a low-risk strategy you can explore without the fear of failure. You’ll also discover if this thing you love, continues to be loved, or becomes more routine once you have to do it over and over again. But you’ll also discover if there are elements of the project that you want to explore further, revise and extend.
Allow yourself a transition period
Create a career transition plan that recognises you’ll go through a period of letting go, until you launch into the new beginning. The transition period is bound to be messy and will have periods of difficulty and uncertainty, but the alternative is to stay put in the wrong job or jump too soon.
Act your way into a new way of thinking and being
The whole message so far is to ensure that you act by changing what you do. By exploring you will go down various paths that will give you feedback to what feels right. It’s important to have a reflective period if you need to clarify what role and career you need to pursue, but the point is that you can’t just sit and mediate on ideas, you must act.