Chances are the idea of doing something that you're passionate about, something that feels important to you, feels far-fetched. Instead, maybe you hope to be a modern day Clark Kent – a mild mannered employee, toiling away behind a desk – spending your free time being who you really are (which hopefully doesn't mean wearing capes and fighting crime, vigilante style).
Finding deep satisfaction from your work is a relatively new concept. Back in our grandfathers' era, people didn't expect to have a career doing what they loved. Instead, they looked for jobs that could provide a good living wage and that offered job security. If someone managed to land a job that gave them both, he would consider himself lucky. Today, however, things have changed, and more people have begun questioning how the work they do lines up with their values and their life goals. In fact, the desire to make a living doing something they love is one of the biggest reasons people give for wanting to change careers.
Making a career change comes with a considerable risk. While some people might be able to change their current job to better fit their interests, most people end up sacrificing their current career path in order to begin a new one. It's a scary process. So, once you know what you want to do, how can you overcome the worry and fear and make a successful change? There are many ways to kickstart your efforts, but here are five ways to go past fear and make a change:
It's normal to be confused. It's called a comfort zone for a reason: any time you consider moving outside of it, you're going to be decidedly uncomfortable. Even when you have a good idea about what you want to do, an overabundance of choices can be almost paralyzing. As humans, we tend to avoid taking risks, and we are very poor judges of what will make us happy in the future. Typically, we overestimate how unhappy we'll be if our efforts don't work out. Instead of letting the confusion and fear hinder your change, use it as fuel. If you've managed your career fairly successfully so far, there's no reason to believe that you will fall on your face just because you're doing something different.
Maintain varied interests. If you know that you don't love what you do, but you aren't sure what you're really passionate about, try lots of things. Take dancing lessons, try ice skating or go horseback riding. Think about the things you've always wanted to do and try them out. It can also help to think about the hobbies you've had in the past that you really enjoyed, or the activities you've only done once or twice. Use these as guides to come up with ideas for a new hobby. You'll find that the more involved you become in a hobby, the more opportunities you'll find for changing your career.
Look at where your skills and your interests meet. Another good place to look for inspiration is that place where your skills, talents and your interests meet. For example, if you work in marketing or sales, and you love to go to parties on weekend and are always the friend people call when they want a restaurant recommendation, maybe you would enjoy being a party planner, a publicist, or just start a blog that covers what's hot and happening in your area. Think about what you would do if you were independently wealthy and find a way to turn that into a career.
Jump in wherever you're comfortable. Sometimes you just have to just jump in. If you weigh things out, over and over, you'll overthink things and end up psyching yourself out of doing anything. Of course, changing jobs is a huge decision, so you shouldn't just give up your day job. That doesn't mean that you can't do what you love. Find a way to do what you enjoy while still working your regular job. Try freelancing or taking on a side project.
Expect a little craziness. Making a change is always going to bring a portion of craziness and disarray into your life. Expect it, and don't worry when it happens. It's all part of the process, and it can serve as a reminder that you're shaking things up. Instead, plan for what you're able to and try to roll with and find out what happens next.
When making a career change, just remember that it's never too late to start over. If you've been putting off doing what you want, ask yourself, “If not now, then when?”
Have you recently made a career change? What were you most afraid of? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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