Changing a Career? Start Small!
Are you feeling unhappy, unmotivated, or frustrated in your current position? Does your career situation feel hopeless? You may feel that the only way to ease your pain is to get out of your job and maybe even your career. When feeling confused or hopeless, often the first instinct is to change things.
I’m sure you’ve seen this happen in relationships, whether in your own or someone else’s. It starts with a general feeling of discontent. Then, the frustrated feelings start to take over. You focus more and more on what makes you unhappy. You might start thinking the only solution is to break up with your partner. You’re feeling hopeless. When we’re feeling hopeless, our instincts kick in and say, “you gotta get out of here!” Maybe you’re feeling the same way about changing a career.
It may be true that, in some situations, a radical change is the answer. But, before you commit to changing a career, the first step is to determine what you can change about your current situation. This will help ease the overwhelm you’re feeling now and prepare you in case a larger career transition is the right answer for you.
So, where do you start? First, let’s take a step back. Going back to the relationship example, there were probably some aspects of the relationship with your partner that still made you feel alive, things that you were attracted to initially. To access those positive aspects, you start by having a conversation and clarifying how you feel and what you need.
This is the same thing you do with your career. You start with having the conversation with yourself to explore what motivates and energizes you and what it is you need from your career. Though you may be unhappy and ready to leave, taking things one small step at a time can often ease the pain of change.
To get started, let’s focus on what DOES work for you and why. Think about a day when you came home and you weren’t completely exhausted. You weren’t thinking about how unhappy you are, you were a little bit more in the moment. What was different about that day compared to other days? What happened? What did you do? Who did you interact with and in what way?
Think about the content of your day (meetings, work activities) as well as the process around your day such as having time to take a break, or working on a project with a team versus on your own. Consider what you didn’t do as well. This could be as small as not skip lunch, staying late, or spending less time on long tasks such as working on your computer for extended hours.
Think about how you interacted with your coworkers, clients, supervisor. How was the emotional environment? What feedback did you get from others? Overall, what emotional need did you get met that day, such as feeling valued, making a contribution, influencing others, expressing creativity, showing expertise. For example, maybe you don’t feel appreciated about how well you vacuum the carpet at home but you feel appreciated for the things that you accomplished in your work day. What does this tell you about what is important to you (in this example, to feel appreciated)? What does this tell you about what makes you feel your best?
When we’re unhappy with our work and feeling a sense of urgency to make a career change, it can feel very overwhelming to even imagine what to do next. This is why we recommend trying things on first and finding a light and easy way to experiment with that change. Rather than working towards changing a career, work towards changing one small thing about your day right now. For example, if you feel motivated when interacting directly with others, can you initiate a project with a team, volunteer to be part of a committee, or find another way to reach out to others through your work? Experiment with your ideas and actions to see if changes happen.
Taking the time to experiment can help to solidify your career needs and preferences. One word of caution: throughout this process you may find yourself getting excited and jump to conclusions about what job or career to do next. However, this can be too big of a leap and leave you feeling overwhelmed once you jump into it. So, give yourself time to make one small change at a time and to reflect on how you feel about these changes. Journaling can be a useful tool to help you keep track of what is working for your as well as processing your feelings and ideas along the way.
If you have trouble finding anything that makes you feel energized, or you are telling yourself, “I don’t have time to do this or I don’t know what I want, but it’s not this!”, it may be worthwhile to dig deeper to find out where you might be getting stuck. We understand. We have designed a program, “Awaken Your Calling: Create Your Inspired Career”, to help you dig deeper and clarify what you truly want from your career and how to move forward. Contact us for more information contact us.