Are you considering a major change in the kind of work you do? That’s a good thing, whether you end up continuing to do what you’ve done for some time or yes, you do indeed choose to venture off in a new direction. The process of evaluating where you are and where you’d like to be, what you’d like to do is healthy.
Resist the urge to put down your feelings and musings about a new line of work or career change as a sign something is wrong. Acknowledging these feelings and doing some exploring of what you’re feeling and where these feelings are coming from can be quite illuminating.
Typically, thoughts about a career move go through stages where we become aware of our feelings, then we might share these with a significant person or partner and then move to share with the rest of our immediate and extended family, friends, co-workers and employer that we’re moving on. That is of course if we make that decision to move on at all. If after some time of reflection we choose to continue in what we’re doing, then it’s possible that we share our musings with no one whatsoever. The key here is to realize that mulling over a big career move can be a very private experience; we have full control over who knows what’s going on in our thoughts.
There are a many reasons we might consider a drastic career move. Boredom, needing a new challenge, health concerns, being burned out, declining performance, aging, taking early retirement, a company buyout, relocating to another area, a lifestyle change are just some reasons that could prompt these thoughts.
“What could I do that would make use of my skills and that I’d enjoy doing?” Some version of this question is what you may be thinking yourself. Given where you live and where you are in your life, you might also entertain the notion of a return to school to stimulate your brain, acquire some new knowledge or hands-on skills which could take you in a completely different line of work. You may not even mind starting in an entry-level job in a new line of work and be quite content to do so, having no interest in moving up to greater responsibilities; something you might have felt you needed to do 20 or 25 years ago.
So the clock is ticking, days and month’s are rolling past and you’re looking ahead at Life with a capital ‘L’. What do I want to do with the remaining time I’ve got with respect to my work life? We’re not talking your time beyond complete retirement. We live with the assumption and belief we’ll have some time of an undetermined length beyond the day we retire. So we’re looking at the time between where you are now and say, 65 or 68 perhaps as a ballpark figure. How many years is this in your case?
Depending on the number you have after answering that question, you might have a few or many years. You might only have time for one career move or have several years meaning you could have a few career moves left to ponder.
Sometimes what’s needed isn’t a change in career at all, but rather, a change in employer. A fresh start bringing your accumulated skills, experience and education to a new employer. The attraction might be a start-up, where you’re highly valued and your leadership and expertise is drawn on for guidance in some early period where the company is set on just establishing a reputation. Or conversely, a big organization is undergoing a thorough clear-cut; moving in a whole new direction, and the attraction to get on board is exciting. Another scenario is a big organization provides some stability and job security which appeals to you over the stress you feel in the fledgling organization you’re with now. There are so many possible scenarios!
Your financial security – or lack of it – also plays a big part in what you can afford to do or not do. We should also acknowledge some people are risk-takers and gamblers and others less so, hence it’s vital you have a clear and accurate picture of your financial status and know the risks you may be entertaining in making a move. Then again, what might you risk with your mental health by sticking with the status quo?
Some questions to ponder then…
Am I doing work that I find meaning in and is this important to me or not?
Am I secure in exploring other options, including reinventing myself?
Who other than myself, might my final decision to change careers impact?
What is the status of my financial health?
How comfortable am I dealing with uncertainty? For a move seldom if ever comes with guarantees of success.
Do I need to take time off my current job to explore these thoughts or am I able to give them their due while continuing in my present line of work?
What are my commitments ie. mortgage, children, spouse, credit repayments, loans etc. and what weight do I give these things in arriving at some decision?
Of course there are other questions to pose and you’re welcome to throw in some of your own to the comment section below. If you’ve been through or are going through this process now, I urge you to share some of your thoughts.