by Ross Macpherson, President, Career Quest
How many of you reading this, right now, can look at your career and find yourself saying things like "I hate what I do" or "If I had my way, I'd rather be doing ____________" or "I just sort of fell into this" or "I never thought I'd be here this long." If these sentiments sound familiar, then chances are you've already considered changing careers.
There was a time when changing a career was virtually unheard of. Sure, a person might change jobs or even companies now and again, but what they did day-to-day generally stayed the same - they were in sales, or finance, or logistics, or retail. But this was also back in a day when working with one company from cradle to grave was the benchmark of a fine career.
In today's work world, the benchmark is different. Changing your career is quite common, very possible, and often recommended. In a full-time job, we spend roughly 50% of our waking hours every week at work, getting ready for work, and travelling to work. Personally, I consider 50% of my waking hours quite precious, so I made a major career change a number of years ago and started my own company. And I am much happier and professionally satisfied than ever.
You too can make a significant career change if you want, but it's not as simple as changing a pair of shoes. Changing a career takes work, careful thought, and a plan if you want to do it right - but the payoffs can be life changing. So here are a few key points you need to consider if a major career change is in your future.
1. Be clear
I've had many clients come to me and say "I don't know what I want to do; I just know I want out of here now." Well, the motivation is obviously there but the lack of focus will virtually guarantee failure, because even if this person does manage to get another job, chances are it won't be the right job and he/she will be looking for something new again in short order.
If you know what you want, great! If, however, you still aren't certain, then you need to take the time and effort to find out. Trust me, it will be worth it. You will need to go through a good self-assessment process - this will help you determine where your true interests and passions lie, how your skills might relate, and what gaps might need to be addressed. While there are some interesting career assessment tools out there, in my opinion you cannot replace the value that a good career coach can provide.
On the web, you can find the right career coach for you in a number of places, including:
- Career Masters Institute
- Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches
- Association of Career Professionals International
- Career Coach Academy
2. Give yourself a realistic timeframe
While your motivation to change may be immediate, chances are the transition will take some time. If you rush into it ill-prepared and in a rush, chances are you're going to get frustrated. So, be realistic about how long this might take. There might be training you need, you will most likely need to do research into your new industry, you will need to make a new list of contacts, etc.
Give yourself a realistic timeframe to make the change. It will help you guarantee success and reduce stress and frustration.
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