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How to find a new career.

How to find a new career - photo of pathway along the grassy edge of the sea.

Oftentimes a career seems to find you.  Have you noticed that?

You fall into doing something, find you’re reasonably good at, start earning decent money, get some promotions and before you know it you’re an accountant when you started out as a nutritionist.

How have 10 years passed and it’s only now you’re feeling stuck and unable to move to something you’d much rather be doing?

Actually, what do you even want to be doing? Is it really a nutritionist or something else entirely?

Where on earth do you go from here? And how?

Keep calm, help is at hand.

Here are the 3 phases to finding a new career.

This is very high level but gives you an understanding of the journey with some exercises to get you started.

You’re new career awaits 😎.

Phase 1: discover your hidden treasure

You have everything you need within you, you just haven’t discovered it all yet and there are parts you probably need to reconnect with.

I call this finding your hidden treasure.

There is so much richness to be unearthed here; patterns that emerge and threads that weave through the stories of your life. Much of it is known but there are always things that have been unseen, swept aside as not useful or that are just lying dormant as years have passed and life has demanded attention elsewhere. It is important to coax all the treasure out so, as we move to the next phase, we can discover how to fit what you want from a new career to you.

There are no square pegs being forced into round holes on my watch.

Let me give you an example of how you can begin to start digging around for your hidden treasure.

Try thinking about what has interested you at different stages of your life, from school right through to now.

Think about the books you read, the extra-curricular courses you have done, where you have invested time and money as an adult.

Can you notice any themes throughout your life? Does something pull at you now, even though it’s not something you’ve thought about for years?

Don’t dismiss anything! This is your hidden treasure. It’s in the next stage where we explore the potential careers all this could be pointing to.

Phase 2: explore the possibilities

Let’s get curious!

Here is where we go wild and conjure up all manner of possibilities for your new career. We take all we have learned about you, the real you, and start to explore what this could allow you to do – your possibilities.

Notice I said, what and not how.

We don’t judge the ideas; no critiquing the feasibility, no whipping out the spreadsheet to track the estimated cost in time and money and certainly no pros and cons lists! These do come later – don’t panic those of you who thrive on this type of analysis, I have you covered.

It’s very important to create a safe space to undertake this approach. 

Fear and worry often accompany the contemplation of doing something different in life which immediately creates limitations. It is then difficult to think outside the box. Instead we follow our curiosity and the question ‘what if?’ We explore all the different expressions of an idea and their accompanying levels of risk. This is just exploration from the comfort of your chair – you don’t have to do any of it…yet!

With only the what in mind, try this exercise on something that’s not related to a new career so you can warm up your creativity.

For example, bringing more reading into your life.

  • Create a scale of 1 – 10 horizontally across a piece of paper.
  • 1 = the smallest and easiest way reading could be brought into your life e.g. I will read for 5 mins a day or I will read a page of a book each day.
  • 10 = the fullest and what you probably perceive as the most difficult way to bring reading into your life e.g. I will read for 7 hours a day or I will run a book club full time.
  • Start with identifying what 1 and 10 could look like (as in the examples above) and then explore what 2 – 9 could look like.
  • You have just created a spectrum of possibilities.

When you are ready you can go through this exercise for the ideas you have for a new career. Create one spectrum of possibilities for each career idea.

Then you are ready to begin learning how to bring these possibilities into reality and explore them with minimal risk.

Phase 3: test and experiment

Now you can begin to pull possibilities of a new career into reality.

Keep breathing!

This can feel uncomfortable. It is here that you experiment, test and analyse whether the possibilities you have identified can work for you.

You are going on some little adventures.

Let’s use the example above of bringing more reading into your life.

Look at the spectrum of possibilities you created and choose the number where you feel most comfortable or drawn to start. For example, number 4 on the spectrum could be to join a book club. This may seem reasonably feasible so you decide to find a book club and try it out for a month.

As you undertake this experiment/adventure, you observe what sits well and what doesn’t. What does being a member of a book club give you, what is missing? If it doesn’t hit the mark at all, you go back to the spectrum of possibilities armed with the new information you have and pick a different number that seems closer to what you are looking for (you may even find you want to change the ideas you have on the spectrum).

Or maybe, you need to tweak something – the genre of books, meeting in person rather than virtually, the size of the book club, the frequency of meeting etc. Go out and experiment again to test your new findings. Stay curious!

You will almost definitely need to go on a number of these little adventures, each one enabling you to experience possibilities without too much risk, thus keeping the fear at bay, especially in this phase of pulling things into reality.

You keep tweaking an existing possibility or explore another one altogether until you find the right fit for you.

It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if you begin taking what you would have previously perceived as bigger risks – those ideas further up the spectrum of possibilities because this is a safe way to explore.

What now?

It’s somewhere around this point that you will get more comfortable with committing to creating a new career for yourself. This may involve investing time and money into learning and expanding your network – tell all your trusted friends and family members that you’re exploring changing career, tell them what you are interested in and ask them if they know anyone you can talk to. This always yields some surprising results!

Keep experimenting and figuring out ways to test the next step with a low risk approach.  For example, how can you try out learning for a small cost and time commitment?  How can you try out living on a different amount of money to see if you can adapt to the change in finances?

Move forward in the spirit of curiosity; dig under the layers of what you think you need to proceed and you will find unexpected routes to carving out a new career.  Keep coming back to how you can expand your understanding and experience – push at the boundaries of what you know to gather information so you can make informed decisions.

It takes time, longer than you think, but keep chipping away at a pace that works for you and your current lifestyle and you can make the change.

Don’t underestimate what can happen over the next decade in your career if you start exploring now.

Photo by Rid Ridichio on Unsplash.