“I’m successful, at least on paper. So why aren’t I more fulfilled in my career?”
If you’ve ever made a comment like the above, you’re not alone. As we move along in our career paths, it’s common for many of us to become comfortable and creatures of habit. Day in and day out, we find an ever-greater proficiency in our skill set and in the process, those working around us view us as even more dependable.
It’s a terrific feeling, isn’t it? It certainly is.
And from my perspective, it’s also a trap.
While you’ve worked hard to reach a state of reliability, you’re not challenging yourself to think entrepreneurially about your own career direction.
How do you know if you’re ready to make the leap into a new career path when you’re no longer just out of college? The good news is that it can absolutely be done, if you know what lies on the course ahead and what it takes to emerge fulfilled on the other side.
To set out on this path of discovery, there are 3 essential keys to planning a change in career direction:
1) Take Time To Pause and Reflect What I recommend to people and it’s not always possible, is take a break for some much-needed introspection. I’m not talking about leaving your job and walking in the wild to find yourself. Rather, go back to the last moment in your career you can recall feelings of true enthusiasm for what lay ahead.
In aiming to conjure up those feelings of passion, ask yourself, “What was it that got me so excited about heading down this path?”
We always hear about those reasons that involve money. But beyond the paycheck, what else? There had to be additional reasons that caused you to chart your own course. So take a step back for a moment and dust off the memories of what you were passionate about.
2) Know What You Need To Pack For The Journey As you begin to return and remember the skills you’ve been most excited by, it’s time for you to conduct an honest assessment about where you are in relation to those skills. Have you kept them current? Or do you feel as though time has passed you by and you’re redundant? What do you need to do to bring those skills up to relevancy in today’s world?
Engaging in this type of self-assessment takes serious courage, especially in light of what you might discover from it.
Let’s say you’re an Accountant and you’ve been an excellent CPA for years. Still, there’s another direction tugging at you that just won’t let go. You’re in the Reliability Comfort Zone as we talked about of making money and being seen as a reliable performer, so all seems right with the world.
Why consider switching gears now? If you’re being honest with yourself, deep down you know why. Underneath the surface of it all, including the job, the title, the skill set, the better office, the money and more…your real passion lies in a totally different area.
3) Ask If You’re Emotionally Prepared To Make The Shift In truth, the people who are best equipped to make a career transition aren’t the ones who are in a great place financially. It’s nice to have the money to do so, but to a greater extent, I find the best candidates to shift career paths are the ones who are strong emotionally – the natural and eternal optimists who possess a deep belief in themselves. If that describes your outlook on your career (and life in general), you may be well suited to shift course.
Another trait I see in great candidates for shifting careers? Believe it or not, they’re genuinely nice people. Why is this so important? It becomes an asset when you need it most because if you’re kind to others and generous with your time, you will have attracted a large sphere of people who want to help you and even join you. So be nice to people because it’s amazing how it can pay off.
“But I can’t just take a pay cut.”
Does everyone have the luxury to take a pay cut to embrace what they’re passionate about? No. However, if it is feasible, I encourage you to explore it. I will argue that if you have abundant passion for the new career destination you’re shifting gears toward (or returning to), not only will you find greater fulfillment in taking that path but more often than not, the money will follow as well.
“Life is not a dress rehearsal. You only get one shot at this thing.”
It’s something my Dad used to say and it’s very appropriate to this topic because if you find yourself questioning your current role or thinking it’s too late in your career to shift gears, I wholeheartedly believe you owe it to yourself to see that urge through.
So let’s talk about it. We deal with a wide range of candidates at GForce and it’s not always the kind of person who is in the early stages of their career. In fact, it can be just the opposite: It may very well be an individual who has built up 15 or 20 years of experience but in the midst of their career, they realize something’s missing. They don’t always know what that “something” is. But they do know that the time has come to chart their own course for their career.