How to Think Outside of the Box to Figure Out Your New Career

By: Jill Ozovek

Image Source: ThinkStock

Wouldn't it be just great if a formula existed for figuring out your new career? Something like:

Step 1: Think unconventionally about career

Step 2: Saunter into new career

Man, a lot more people would be a lot happier, and I bet our economy and leading economic indicators (e.g. productivity) would soar to new heights.

But I digress because, in fact, no such magic formula exists. You're on your own!

Well, you're not entirely on your own. Here are some tips on how you can stop being so darn methodical and start thinking in ways you haven't thought of before.

Mix it Up: When I first started using this exercise, clients looked at me like I was nuts. Some still do. To that I say, "My plan is working perfectly!" You're supposed to think it's nuts. Essentially, what you want to do is mix up a bunch of linear thoughts in your head and think about things in a new way:

  1. Take three areas about which you could give a 20-30 minute speech.

  • Take three things you enjoy doing (that could be involved in a professional setting, so underwater basket weaving does not count).
  • Pick three locations where you'd like to live.
  • Then mix 'em up. See what weird combos come up for you and what new thoughts may arise. The point of the exercise is not to lead you down some path where you will be project managing a farm in Boise, for example, but instead to help you think of new possibilities. It may not happen overnight; let it percolate a little.

    Get Out of Your Head: How often do you think about and write down what you're good at? How deeply do you know your own skill set? If you're like the majority of job seekers out there, you only have a small idea of what you're good at. So, ask some people! Ask them what they admire about you and what they think you're good at doing. Make sure to ask one person from your personal life. I wouldn't be a career change consultant and coach if it weren't for what a close personal friend wrote back when I asked her those two questions.

    Another option is to get out there and check out some classes/courses/seminars. There are no shortage of organizations, schools of higher education and groups for any number of interests. General Assembly, which has both online and bricks and mortar buildings in a variety of American cities, has a ton of courses and workshops ranging from digital marketing to web design to product management and more. See what's out there!

    There are countless other ways to think outside of the box to figure out what you want to do next. But the biggest piece of advice I could give you is this: Don't give up. It all comes down to how willing you are to invest time, energy and oftentimes money into your career change, but know that if you're willing, it is possible. The road's not always easy, which is why these out of the box thought processes can be a great start.


    Jill Ozovek (CPC, ACC) is a career advisor and the brains behind Jill Ozovek Coaching, her coaching practice. She helps transition female millennials who have had a career or two after college into the job they were born to do. She loves travel, old maps and leading friends and colleagues on walking food tours in Queens, NY in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter @jozovek.