Maybe he said it, maybe he didn’t. The famous quote attributed to Aristotle reads, “Where the needs of the world and your talents cross, there lies your vocation.” Career change can be daunting, but with honest reflection and a robust plan, you too can make it happen and the rewards can be tremendous. Here are a few pointers to help you get there.
Drivers of career change
The top five reasons for change include better remuneration, stress, improved work-life balance, wanting a fresh challenge and a diminished passion for the current job. After changes were made, higher levels of happiness and less stress were reported. Ask yourself these questions to evaluate whether it’s time to pursue a new direction:
Why am I in my current job?
You find yourself in a job for which you no motivation at the start. Economic constraints pushed you into it. You really wanted to do something different and now you’re pondering the “What if?” question
How much do you enjoy your work?
Ever been so engrossed in your work you don’t notice the time? That’s what you want to aim for. Not counting down the hours till home time or the days to vacation.
How are you after work?
After a day’s labour do you feel satisfied? You’ll want to feel a sense of achievement and look forward to getting up the next day to do it all over again.
Does my job align with my values?
Looking for a meaningful job may imply changing something in society: solving problems, helping others, protecting the environment. If what you do doesn’t connect with your personal values, you may become unhappy over time. Question whether you really identify with what the company does. A positive identification will drive better performance
How good is the working atmosphere?
Having positive relationships with colleagues and the boss is also key to job satisfaction. If you don’t feel valued or respected, it might be time to look elsewhere
Obtain a clearer perspective on what you want to do
A period of self-evaluation will help you identify your strengths and interests, attributes and experience. You now need to start assessing the roles, industries and companies in which you’d like to see yourself.
Concentrate on finding companies where you might be able to develop professionally. Remember that jobs contain tasks you’ll love and tasks you’d rather do without. What would be your level of tolerance and compromise?
Formulate your career plan
Once you’ve gained perspective on where you want to go, it’s time to plan using a set of goals. To make things easier and more achievable, ask yourself the following:
- What do I want to accomplish after six months, after a year?
- How will I achieve my training and education goals and by when?
- How and when will I gain the extra skills and experience I require?
- How can I expand my network, and by when?
Goal setting will open up a clear pathway to your new career. Monitoring, adapting and re-evaluating the opportunities as they arise is equally important as factors change. Together with your career plan, here are a few more pointers:
Shape your new personal narrative
You need to be able to confidently talk about your story with all its changes of professional direction. You might have no experience in your desired area, but if you can elaborate what you’re looking for and communicate your ambitions effectively you’ll increase your chances of success.
Expand your network
It might feel uncomfortable but make the effort to surround yourself with people aligned with your desired future rather than only those from your past. But don’t forget your current network and identify those contacts you think might be able to help advance your career.
Find a mentor
A mentor can be anyone from someone you can sit down and talk with or someone you take inspiration from generally. Biographies, podcasts, videos etc of people you admire can inspire and make a real difference.
Finally, carving out a new direction in your career takes time. It’s less about talent and more about time and effort. There will be challenges you have to commit to overcome as you move towards your goal.
Embarking on a career change doesn’t come without risk. The good news, however, is that you’re in control of the process. The rewards are worth it. To turn to Greek philosophy once more: “Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.” (Aristotle). Good luck.