For some of us, there comes a day when we wonder if we are in the right career. We wake up each morning lacking energy and excitement about what we are doing. We begin to think, am I in the right place for me? Is it time to change careers? Do I know what I want to? Do I know the steps to take? There are many questions that we keep asking yourself are unsure of what to do. But there is hope.
A few years ago, I was faced with this situation. I was going through the motions, but I was unsure what to do. I was afraid of the unknown and worried about how I would support my family if I made the change and failed. The one thing I knew was that I could not make a quick change. I needed to take a few deep breaths and a few small steps to see where I was. From this experience, I would like to share seven tips on making a successful midlife career change.
Review your Story: You need to assess your career story up until this day. Determine what roles and responsibilities you like and do not like in your career. What skills do you need in your new career? Can you leverage your present skills to enter a new career? Are there skills or responsibilities that you want to avoid having in your new career? As we think about the different roles and responsibilities that we carry out now, we need to think about why we want to change. It is important to take stock in the reasons or feelings that are causing you to consider a change. Knowing why you want to change can help you prepare for the next career.
Field Research: It is important to talk to people in the industry or career you want. Put together some questions to gain insight and information to make decisions on your career pursuit. The goal of field research is to gain an understanding of the potential new career. You are not there hoping for an interview. To find potential people to speak with, you will need to increase your network of career industry professionals in the new field you are potentially entering.
Network: Start reaching out and meeting people in the industry you are considering. This can be done through in-person networking events, Internet searches, Skype or LinkedIn. These people can be important allies in your quest to find a new career. Many times, you will not have any experience in the new field of interests, but your connections and sharing of information can lead to opportunities. Building trust and credibility with your contacts is important as you carry out your job search. As contacts get to know you, they can give you the inside edge to get an interview to show your passion and interest in this new career. You never know what connection can lead you to your new career.
Goals: You should write down three short-term and three long-term goals that will give you the steps in changing your career. Short-term goals should be set up to provide easy and early success to provide momentum in your change. Long term goals are focused on the future and require a bit more planning and time for entry into your new career. Another tip is to put your goals and action steps in your online calendar to keep track of the steps you need to take. Set your task in your calendar to provide daily reminders that are texted to your phone each morning at 5 or 6 am so you can view and take action on each step daily.
Job Shadowing: An important way to experience your potential career is through job shadowing. Shadowing allows you the opportunity to spend time with professionals to learn the ins and outs of what they do. Depending on the person and company, you may have the opportunity of spending two hours to a full day seeing what happens within this career. This is an excellent way to see if you like the environment and the responsibilities associated with your new career. To job shadow, you need to reach out to somebody in your network and ask for the opportunity.
Accountability Partner: When you are considering a career change, you should surround yourself with supportive people. These people can be there to encourage you and check in on you as you go through the steps to enter a new career. Your accountability partners can be a family member, spouse, partner, friend, or a coach. They are there to check in with you and see how you are progressing. They are there to keep you in motion and make sure that you are taking effective steps to achieve your career change. They are your cheerleaders, encouragers, confidants, support people and sounding boards for your journey. Having a partner will give you confidence when you are stuck and afraid.
Fear: All of us are afraid. It is normal to be afraid any time you are stepping out of your comfort zone. When you are making a career change, fear can get the best of you and freeze you in your tracks. By facing your fear, you can take meaningful steps to be in action and move forward. Action will ease your fear and allow you to make progress in your career change.
Remember that you need to take small steps and be patient in making your career change. Taking time to analyze your situation along with completing field research and expanding your network will increase your opportunities. Just the fact that you are open to change will lead you to a new career more quickly than you ever thought.
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Written by: Mark Danaher, Career Retirement Coach
CEO & Founder, Career Retirement Coach at Retire to the Good Life. Request a free consultation with Mark.