Do you feel as though you're in the wrong job, wrong industry or wrong career? Making a big change is never easy, but there's no time like right now to begin.
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"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Remember when people used to ask you that? Now here you are, all grown up, and are you doing what you want?
Whether you're 25 or 45, changing your career path can seem an impossible task. Oh, sure, we all know that there are no jobs for life anymore, but changing jobs is one thing changing your whole life direction is quite another. So we stick with jobs that don't make us happy, or fulfilled, or even vaguely satisfied. We feel depressed, lethargic, bored, stressed, overwhelmed, or just plain dissatisfied.
If you feel like this, chances are it's time to take a deep breath and make a change. Question is, where do you start?
"Living is about making choices," says Dr Peter Carey, national president of the Career Development Association of Australia Inc. "Deciding what kind of work will make you happy is one of the greatest of these choices. In fact, there are so many options that it may seem easier not to make any changes. But one choice is clear: you can decide to begin the process of change or keep doing something that isn't making you happy."
What to do
Okay, so the first step is to decide that change is necessary. What's next? Do you need to know what you want to do?
"No-one ever comes to me and says 'I know what I want to do, help me do it'," says Melbourne-based psychologist and career-change specialist, Meredith Fuller. "Some have a vague idea but mostly they come because they know something's wrong and they don't know what their talents are, what their skills are, or what other opportunities are out there for them."
Generally, a change of career is brought about by a desire to do something completely different. "People who want something along similar lines to what they're already doing are often in a job where they hate the boss," says Fuller. "Their unhappiness can usually be cured by simply changing companies."
Another thing to check before you leap into a career change is to ensure that it is your job that's at the root of your unhappiness. "Are you taking frustration with other things such as a relationship out on your career?" asks Fuller. "Making a change in one area can often create development in all other areas."
Should I stay?
The trouble is that even a job we hate can look more attractive than jumping into the unknown. Which is why Fuller suggests that the first step is research, research and more research. If you have a dream job, you need to find out if the reality matches up to the fantasy. This can be done by finding people who do the job and talking about it. If possible, see if you can shadow them to get a true picture of what a day on the job would be like.
If you have no dream job, find one. A careers counsellor is a great place to start. They can help you define your values, skills, talents and passions and give you not only an idea of careers that might suit, but how to get into them. Visit www.cdaa.org.au for help in finding a career development practitioner.
"The biggest obstacle to pulling off a career change is having the appropriate information and skills to manage it," says Carey. "It's difficult to learn these on your own support is invaluable."
Carey suggests you keep five principles in mind:
1. Know yourself, believe in yourself, and follow your heart.
2. Focus on the journey, not on the destination. Become a good traveller.
3. You're not alone. Access your allies and be a good ally.
4. Change is constant, and brings with it new opportunities.
5. Learning is life-long.
One thing that will quickly become apparent is that career change is not an overnight proposition. Chances are that you will require further study or qualifications to make the switch, and this takes time. You might also find that you won't be able to swap directly into a commensurate position to the one you have, requiring financial planning.
"I always suggest that people don't put dates on it," says Fuller. "You might also need to be ready to do whatever's necessary along the way to get paid along the way, and be flexible."
Tools and resources:
> Plan and develop your career
> Find a course now
> Find your dream job