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Updated by phelan-edward2 on Nov 14, 2016
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5 Steps to Change your Career

Some people are lucky. They have always known what kind of work they wanted to do, and they love their jobs. For most of us however, this is not how it works. We find ourselves coasting through life, waiting for an epiphany to reveal our perfect career path, unsure how we ended up with the jobs we have.

But fulfilling work is not going to land in our laps. Like anything worth having, it requires a substantial amount of effort. So how do you figure out what you want to do, and change your career for good?

1

Make a List of Things You Enjoy

Make a List of Things You Enjoy

The first thing to do is forget about your career and just write a list of all the things that make you happy. Cooking, sewing, animals, photography - nothing is off limits here. The purpose of this exercise is to create a list of things you love doing, with the intention of figuring out how you might be able to turn something you enjoy in to something that you can earn a living doing. The important thing is that you don't focus on how you might make a career out of these things at this stage, as that might prevent you from writing something down.

2

Figure Out What Matters

Figure Out What Matters

Put your list of things you enjoy to one side and bring your focus to what is important to you in a job. Do you want the opportunity to manage a team? Do you like teaching others? Perhaps you are looking for a job with flexible working hours? Or maybe you simply want a job that pays well. Figuring out what matters to you should help you get a clearer idea of what kind of jobs you are looking for, and at the end of this exercise you should have an idea of what motivates you.

The second part to this exercise is comparing your 2 lists. This should help you not only eliminate unsuitable jobs, but identify possible opportunities. If you love cooking but are also looking for a job with flexible hours, then working in a kitchen probably isn't for you. On the other hand you might love to write, but prefer to work in a team, so might consider a career as a copywriter in an ad agency.

3

Do Your Homework

Do Your Homework

By now you should have a shortlist of careers that are a good fit for you. Now you need to narrow these down by doing extensive research to gain an understanding of salary, working hours, and training requirements. If the information is hard to find online, you can always contact someone already doing the job and arrange a meeting or phone call to get their advice. It can also be useful to look for existing job opportunities to get a good idea of the kind of jobs that are available. Your research in to the sector should give you a good indication of where to find job ads. For example if you are considering teaching jobs abroad, you could look for TEFL jobs, or for jobs in the publishing industry you could look for positions advertised in the jobs area of the trade website, The Bookseller.

The point of this activity is not to talk yourself out of changing your career, but to prepare you for what to expect and the challenges you may face if your chosen field is particularly competitive.

4

Take the Plunge

Take the Plunge

You've spent all this time figuring out what you want to do, so make sure you don't just file all your research away for another day. It's important to keep up the momentum and take action sooner rather than later.

Come up with a plan and stick to it as closely as possible. You might decide that you need to seek out work experience opportunities, or enroll on a relevant training course. Fitting these activities in around your current job can be challenging, so find a way to organise yourself. Apps like Wunderlist or Trello can help you keep track and ensure you are making progress.

5

Remind Yourself Why

Remind Yourself Why

Changing your career path can feel daunting, and once you have taken the plunge, it's easy to get cold feet. There will be moments when you regret your decision and wonder why you ever thought this would be a good idea. Make sure you remind yourself why you took these steps, and what you will get out of it in the long run. It might take a while to get to where you want to be, but the rewards will be well worth the challenge.