If you’ve followed my blog over the past year, you’ve been able to see how I was able to make a huge and daunting career change. If you are wanting a change, how can you apply some of these techniques to your own life? I know we are all different, but sometimes things that work well for some of us can also serve others. Here is what worked for me. Maybe it can work for you.
- Know Yourself. Ask yourself what you really want in life. Take the time to assess what’s important to you. Is it the big house, fancy car, and a lot of money? Is it providing for your children and assuring they’ll get a college education? Maybe it’s the freedom to pick up and take a week-long vacation every 3 months, or just have the weekends to train for your upcoming marathon? Whatever it is, make sure that your career supports your life goals.
- Listen to your feelings. Are you unhappy driving to and from work? Do you find yourself getting irritable with those around you? Do you get the wintertime blues? Does your job often put you in a bad mood? If you feel a certain way, don’t ignore it. I did that for years, not wanting to face the painful truth. Once I faced the truth, I could actually start to act, making decisions and eventually a plan. You never know how your subconscious has a way of trying to get your own attention. I was surprised to see that I set the alarms off with a series of very vivid recurring dreams.
- Get back to your roots. Why did you get into this career in the first place? Is the career giving you what you hoped to get out of it? Is it the warm fuzzies you thought it would be, or do you feel unfulfilled, resenting every moment?
- Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. This is why we have families, friends, and communities– to support us! It’s okay if you have to pay for it in the form of a career or life coach or even a therapist, but it’s helpful to know that you don’t have to carry the weight of the world (aka your problems) on your own.
- Do some soul-searching. Before you give up, can you try to solve the problems you have? I asked myself this many times. First it was, “Is it the job or the career?” Once I sorted that one out, the question became, “Is it me or the career? Will my problems follow me around regardless of what I choose to do for my daily work?” If you conclude that it’s something about your personality that will always cause your relationship with work to fail, try to resolve it. For example, if your need to be a perfectionist becomes too overwhelming, work on giving yourself the freedom to not be perfect. (I think the help of a coach or therapist comes in here.) If you’ve successfully cured yourself of this trait (or even if you haven’t,) and the job still makes you miserable, accept who you are and the fact that it might be the wrong career for you.
- Pursue other interests. If you live your life defined by your career, you may just start to resent it. You are so much more than that, and life is so much more fulfilling when you choose to nurture in yourself the things that you love.
- Open your eyes. Notice opportunities that may come your way… even if it doesn’t seem like an opportunity at the time. You never know how one door can open another.
- Celebrate the small things. I know it can be hard to do when you’re in a funk, but it’s worth the small amount of energy it takes. Lately, I’ve tried to celebrate whenever I do something new. Whether it’s a new gym class I’m taking for the first time, finally getting into the yoga pose I’ve been working on for months, or getting my butt into a commercial kitchen to work on my new project; it’s a reminder that I can keep growing, keep pushing, and keep leaving my comfort zone… a reminder that I don’t have to ever be stuck again. I don’t throw a party or anything, but I take a moment to congratulate myself by simply acknowledging that it was a cool thing I experienced. I must admit that this really does become a habit, and the more you do it, the more you do it. It’s pretty cool.
- Free up your future. Give yourself a break, and stop focusing on what you don’t want. Instead be open to discovering something you might want. I’ve learned that the more you focus your negativity on something, the more energy you feed it, and the bigger it gets– even if you are trying to push it away. While you’re so busy trying to escape from it, it envelops you in its power and controls your entire life. Sound crazy and weird? I know, I didn’t get the concept until I was able to see it in action.
- Don’t give up. Keep looking for what it is you want to do. It’s like dating. You don’t have to marry the first person you meet. Gaining different experiences can help you decide what you really do and don’t want in life. This kind of change is unlikely to happen over night. Hell, it took me 10 years (okay, technically 6, or maybe 3 depending on if you count the first 2 times I decided I wanted to quit.) I was at dinner recently talking to my step-mom about how silly it was that I was contemplating careers/jobs that were so wrong for me. Deep down, I knew it at the time, but I was so desperate for a change that I was willing to make
anythingcertain things work for me. She wisely pointed out to me that this is what you do. You dabble, you experiment, you figure it out. And once you do that, something is bound to come your way, whether you realize it or not (remember #7?)
I can’t say any of this was easy, but in the end I can certainly say it worked. What tips do you have for creating change?