12 Powerful Strategies for Exploring Your Life & Career Change Options
- Feeling stuck or trapped in your current work situation
- Dreading Monday mornings
- Don’t see a future where you’re at or
- At a loss to know what other options may be available
Here are 12 strategies to get you thinking about your life and career change options:
1. The easiest career change option is to transform your experience of work
Instead of waiting for external events to change your life, perhaps it’s time to make subtle changes to your working day. Changes that can lift the negative energies at work.
If your working life seems meaningless or questionable, it’s important to look at the way you are operating.
Are you sabotaging yourself with a negative attitude or approach to your working day?
2. Explore more flexible work and career options
Telecommuting, job-sharing, contracting, project work, and other flexible work options can provide greater freedom and versatility. Especially for those trying to study, raise a family, pursue a creative interest or simply ‘have a life’.
Is there an opportunity for negotiation with your current employer?
3. Change career paths by finding a new job with your existing employer
If you are seeking to change your field of expertise (eg. move from legal to marketing), is there an opportunity to move sideways in your organization? Perhaps to a different business unit, where you can develop new skills that are more aligned with your desired future career direction?
This can be a low-risk way to make a midlife career change. Demonstrate a willingness to learn and you could be rewarded. With your current employer providing you with training (and a salary) while you’re gaining experience in your new field.
If the position you’d like doesn’t exist within your organization, then submit a proposal for creating a new job that will meet the needs of your employer and you.
A well-considered and researched proposal can position you as a business-solutions provider as well as the top candidate for the new role. Finding opportunities within your organization can make a career transition much easier.
4. Change your career path by changing your employer
When changing employers take care to ensure that you are not simply recreating the same situation you have left. Or worse, a more stressful situation.
As one woman noticed after complaining about the nightmare bosses in her last 5 jobs, the only common factor in each job was her! What was it about her that kept attracting the ‘boss from hell’?
A solution to this is to tune into your interests and your values, and honor them in your search for a more fulfilling work environment. For example, seek out ‘family-friendly companies’ or move to a field that is more compatible with your natural interests.
Actively interview for organizational culture to ascertain whether this workplace is a good fit for you. Ask, what is the spirit of this workplace? Will I be treated as a person here? Is there a feeling of community? Do people love their work? Is what we are doing and producing worthy of my commitment and long hours?
5. Mentor another… or be mentored yourself
If you have achieved a level of proficiency in your career, why not use your professional and personal skills and experiences to help others do the same.
Mentoring is a mutually beneficial relationship that involves a more experienced person helping a less experienced person to achieve their goals and fulfill their potential.
While mentors often work in a voluntary capacity, some organizations implement programs where paid staff take on mentoring responsibilities.
Adding the role of a mentor can help increase your career satisfaction and add diversity to your work tasks.
6. Apply your skills to a cause that is close to your heart
Working for a non-profit organization dedicated to key causes or values that resonate with you can be just the solution to work dissatisfaction. Many people feel good about what they do knowing they are working for a socially, environmentally or ethically responsible company.
One example is the manager of a local credit union, who left a career in mainstream banking to apply his skills to a non-profit organization run on cooperative and community-based principles. This career shift benefitted his family, lifestyle, work satisfaction, and community.
Others may satisfy this desire to make a ‘positive contribution’ by volunteering or offering pro bono services.
One website that puts people in contact with community organizations seeking assistance is www.volunteermatch.org.
This could ultimately lead to a career change or just be an outlet for greater meaning and purpose in your life.
7. An alternative career change option is to generate your income from a variety of sources with a portfolio career
An attractive choice for many, including those searching for more challenges at the end of traditional careers or who have too many interests to work solely with one employer, portfolio careers are an increasingly common way of working life.
The term ‘portfolio career’, originally coined by management guru and social philosopher Charles Handy, means that instead of working a traditional full-time job, you work two or more part-time jobs with different employers in one or more professions, that when combined are the equivalent of a full-time position.
These may include part-time employment or unpaid work, short term contracts, freelancing, and self-employment. Portfolio careers are usually built around a collection of skills and interests. Though the only consistent theme is one of career self-management.
Websites like upwork.com also make it easier to promote your services to a wide range of those looking for them.
Portfolio careers offer more flexibility, variety, and freedom, but also require organizational skills as well as risk tolerance. They can provide a great way to get a new business started, whilst still earning income from other sources.
8. Take time to consider your life and career options: Take a sabbatical
As an example, a lawyer on the fast-track to success in a city firm, took 6 months off and worked as a laborer. This gave him time and space before returning to the legal profession with renewed enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to establish his own firm.
Some people travel, or embark on another project they have long wanted to do such as writing a book. Others take time to focus on self-care. When we are more relaxed, we are more creative!
9. Change your career
Do you have a second (or third, or fourth) career in you? Statistics indicate that today the average person will have between 5-7 careers during their lifetime.
Our first career choice is frequently made with limited knowledge of ourselves and our options. And it may not be what we wish to continue doing for the next 50 years of our working lives.
There are many inspirational stories of people of all ages who have embarked on new careers. It’s never too late to follow your passion. Making a career change can be a daunting and risky endeavour however, so it’s important to obtain sound advice and to feel confident about the wisdom of your transition.
As one client said, “Before I started my career consultations I almost enrolled in an 18 month intensive program to re-train in a different career. Through my career consultations, I was encouraged to take a more realistic look at my needs in a new career. And to gain some experience in this new area before embarking on such a major investment. When I gained this experience, I immediately knew that this area was not for me. This simple approach ensured that I didn’t waste 18 months on a course that wasn’t right for me to begin with.”
10. Expand or explore your career options through training, education or professional development
Is it time to improve, update or extend your existing skills? Gaining a higher qualification or adding to your repertoire of skills may open the way for more interesting and rewarding work opportunities.
Or why not enroll in a course for the simple joy of learning and intellectual stimulation?
Learning the piano or Spanish, studying stock-market investing or psychology, taking photography or tennis or salsa dance classes …. Exploring whatever interests you can be a life-enriching experience. And who knows where it may lead?
11. Make a life and career change by downshifting
There is now a growing trend for people to look for ways to claim back their lives from the pressures and time demands. The social phenomenon of ‘downshifting’ is fast turning into a quiet revolution to create work life balance.
What parts of our busy, driven consumer-led existences can we let go of? Exchanging the stresses of city living for life in a lake, seaside or rural community is one option.
Advances in technology now make working outside a city – via telecommuting or running one’s own business – a viable and attractive option for slowing down.
12. Change direction and start your own business
If you’ve worked in employed positions, the idea of being your own boss can be very appealing.
You might choose to purchase an existing business, enter into a partnership, or start a business from scratch. To choose a business that is right for you, and to increase your prospect of success and satisfaction, it is useful to create a personal career plan that will inform your business planning.
A recommended resource for those embarking on small business is The E-myth Revisited by Michael Gerber.
“The moment one commits oneself, then providence commits too. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Additional Career Planning Resources
- Career & Personality Tests
- 7 Steps to Making Career Choices Guide
- How to Write a Resume
- Job Interview Advice
- Career Planning Resources
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