Do These 3 Things Before Starting a New Career
Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Contrary to what you may have heard, an enjoyable career isn’t an impossible dream. If you dislike your job or you're settling for a career that isn’t meaningful because you think it has to be this way, it might be time to reexamine those beliefs.
Do all jobs have good and bad days, ups and downs, joys and frustrations? Of course they do. Your dream career isn’t a magical realm where worries and cares disappear – life is messy and unpredictable, and if it hasn’t already thrown some crazy stuff at you, just wait.
But accepting life’s messiness isn’t the same thing as resigning yourself to feeling stuck in an unfulfilling job or career situation. In fact, being unhappy at work has been shown to affect mental, emotional and physical health – not to mention being zero fun.
So, if you find yourself experiencing frustration, doubt, and feel like you’re stuck in an unhappy situation at work, it’s time to take the plunge and embrace positive change. Here are a few strategies that can help you create a career filled with purpose and meaning.
Define your values. Alexander Hamilton once said, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.” So, the first thing you’ll need to do is define exactly what you stand for. Maybe the values you grew up with still serve as your moral foundation, or maybe you’ve adopted a new set of values that are all your own. Either way, when deciding what direction to take with your career, your best source of guidance is your own personal values. What’s most important to you? What do you really care about? What problem(s) in the world would you most like to solve? Contemplate questions like these until you come up with a list of four or five qualities you consider most important. Your list may include things like family, spirituality, compassion, a healthy lifestyle – or anything that’s a top priority in your life. Once you have a list of values written down, pin it up in a place that you’ll see regularly and use it to stay motivated and focused on your goals.
Set yourself a goal and make it SMART. Like it or not, goal-setting is a crucial ingredient in your career strategy. Setting goals will help you define your destination and determine the most appropriate choices to help you get there. So, let’s get to it. Mentally project yourself 12-18 months into the future and ask yourself, “If there were no obstacles to my success – like fear, money, training, etc. – what type of work would I be doing?” Get as clear as possible about what you want and then write down your goal using the SMART method: make it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. For example, a year from now (time-bound) you may wish to own a flower shop that caters to hotels and event venues (specific), making $85k a year (measurable). As far as the Realistic element of this exercise goes, try challenging yourself with a goal that seems difficult but achievable. After you’ve defined your long-term goal, you can start to map out short-term goals and milestones that will guide your day-to-day activities.
Don’t wait until you feel “ready” to change. Especially when you’re feeling uncertain about what the future holds, it’s perfectly normal to feel more fear than motivation when considering your goals. In the cold light of day, the warm fuzzy career goal you wrote down may suddenly seem like an insane delusion. I mean, who are you to think you can have a purposeful, fulfilling career, right? Wrong! Stay focused and don’t let fear stop you from taking action. Instead of caving to the voice that says you can’t, give your fear a gentle nod and mentally thank it for its noble attempt to keep you safe. Then take a deep breath and re-commit to taking action toward your goal. Remember: while you can't control your thoughts and emotions, you can choose your actions. As soon as you notice your mental conversations heading into negative territory, gently guide yourself back to focusing on what you’re trying to achieve and why.
Although embarking on a career pivot may seem daunting, there’s no good reason to allow your fears to dictate your life choices. Give these steps a try and, if they help, build on your momentum by adding new elements to your career pivot plan in the future. The important thing is to do something every day that moves you toward your goals. After all, your future is what you make it, so why not craft a life that’s a vibrant reflection of your values, dreams and desires?
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Eva Bart-Williams is a mental performance and life coach who helps women own their power and reach their true potential. Eva coaches clients worldwide via video conference and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .