If you're unhappy at work and thinking about switching careers, you're not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans switch careers an average of seven times in their lives. This could be one of the most exciting moments of reinvention in your life.
Unfortunately, most people don't see that way -- because change is scary.
In this period of transition, fears are plenty and, chances are, if you've gotten to the point of hating your current employment, you're probably feeling far, far away from the possibility of landing your dream career.
So what's the most powerful thing you can do to address your career crisis? Hint: it's not assessing your strengths and weaknesses. It's not revamping your resume. And it's certainly not slacking off at your current job and complaining about it to anyone who will listen.
The solution is this: Plan TIME to work on your career.
Even I was resistant to this notion. When I first met with a life coach at age 29 to figure out what I "really wanted to do with my life," she assigned me homework: devote 6 hours each week to researching, in depth, all the possibilities I had on my list of possible careers. Six hours! My jaw dropped and I wanted to protest, but she made her point so well: "This is where you are going to spend YOUR LIFE!" Most people spend 50-70 hours per week, or 90,000 hours, in a lifetime working. Don't you WANT to spend the time and energy to do a thorough course of study before you make a decision as important as that? I agreed and went along.
As I actually sat down to do my "homework," I realized the deep wisdom of my project. I scoured the internet and got to know all the players in the fields that interested me. The benefits mounted: I made great connections. I learned what I liked and didn't like about each field I "studied." Best of all, I started feeling better about the whole process, because I knew I was doing the right thing for myself.
Why did I need a coach to give me such simple instructions?
Because I am hard-wired to stay the same and find a way to tolerate not being totally fulfilled. I needed someone to argue against all of my bad theories about my career, and convince me that I deserved a well-paying, awesome job that excited and inspired me every day. Though pursuing my dream job did thrust me from my comfort zone, I am endlessly grateful that I took the plunge. If you need a push in the right direction, I recommend the following exercises to get a plan for your "dream career" underway:
Put it on the calendar.
Yoga on Saturday at 11. Sunday lunch with parents. Make career research a "real thing" by scheduling it, just like you already do with commitments with other people. Career research, Wednesday, 6-8pm, and don't be late.
Write about it.
Even if you don't know what your dream career is, you can still have a general dream for your career that motivates and inspires you. "I am creative. I help people. I love where and with whom I work." There's an art to dream crafting, that you can learn and master.
Make interview dates.
With people in your chosen field who seem happy in their career choice, and whose jobs you admire. Find out what they like and don't like about their jobs, and how they landed them in the first place. Considering that over 40 percent of new hires come from referrals, it's time to start building your network.
Kick butt at your current job.
It seems like a no-brainer, but I'll say it anyway: no one ever got hired for a new awesome job by slacking off at their old one. Being the star of your current workplace will make your transition to the next level a smooth and inevitable one. Be on time, do your job with enthusiasm, and let your work ethic show. This will actually make your job easier and more tolerable, elicit kindness when it's time to go and give you more confidence to pursue the next thing. The clearest path to your dream career is not obstructed by burned bridges, resentments or woeful regrets.
Getting clear about what you "really" want to do with your life is going to require your time and attention. When fears about living into a future unknown come up, it seems even more important to get someone on board who will keep the path lit, point out the potholes, tell you to do what you don't "feel like" doing, hold you to account and cheer for you as you put one foot in front of the other. If you could use this kind of support, consider joining our 4-week Design Your Career Tele-Course. We'll help you figure out what you are meant to be doing with your life, and guide you through the steps that will get you there.. Even if you aren't planning a career change, this course will help to arm you with the tools you need to take your current career up a notch.
May you feel unbelievably uplifted by what you do each day and love the impact that you make!