How do I decide which of my new career ideas to pursue?

Once you’ve put together an initial list of ideas for your new career (remember, you can always come back and add to this later), it’s time to get started on the initial assessment of these – increasing your level of understanding of what each potential career idea involves, so you can decide whether to discard it (on the basis that, having found out a bit more about what it actually involves, it now has limited appeal for you) or investigate further.


The benefits of experiential learning 

Whilst reading and internet-based research can be a useful starting point for this, you’re likely to gain much more valuable insights from exploring and refining your ideas through ‘experiential learning’ – talking to people who are already doing the sort of work you’re interested in doing, attending courses or workshops, volunteering, work-shadowing, conducting small scale ‘tests’ to see if there is a market for a particular product or service, etc. 

Give yourself permission to experiment, without any expectation as to the outcome. You may go and attend an introductory course or workshop on an area of work that interests you only to come away, having had some real-world exposure, with the realisation that it really isn’t for you. Far better to find that out now, than further down the line…

Proactively open yourself up to new ideas, new possibilities, and new experiences – think of things you’d really like to try doing and do them! Whilst they may not be directly relevant to the direction you eventually end up going in workwise, the insights gained can provide useful feedback, helping you to cultivate a growth mindset and potentially expanding your horizons in terms of demonstrating what you’re capable of/what’s possible for you. 

Be wary of dismissing potential ideas simply because they don’t look feasible/realistic due to a lack of specific skills, knowledge or experience – instead ask yourself, what would it take/what would need to happen for you to bring that idea to fruition. It may be that what you’re missing are skills which exist at your ‘growing edge’ – new or lesser-used skills you’re motivated to master in pursuit of some higher-level objective. Continuing to learn new skills, and acquire new knowledge, can be enjoyable and invigorating for us, whatever stage we’re at in our lives. Or it may reveal a need to collaborate with others with complementary competencies.

Try to conduct this initial assessment from the perspective of what appeals to you – in other words, go with your ‘gut reaction’ and emotional responses, rather than what your rational, analytical, thinking brain is saying. At this stage, you need to be looking for the things that really light you up – that you could see yourself doing and enjoy doing, so try and keep your thinking brain in check!

Overcoming procrastination

It’s at this stage of the process that procrastination often starts to creep in – it’s easy to spend endless hours researching possible options online, but without any real-world exposure, that doesn’t get you very far. Working with a coach or other accountability partner can help ensure you stay on track and do what you say you’re going to do when it comes to engaging in experiential learning! If you think you’d benefit from some professional support to help you navigate through this stage of your career change, then please get in touch.  

Rationalisation and selection

Once you have a shortlist of career options that really appeal to you, go back and do a more in-depth evaluation of each of the options against the ‘frame of reference’ you created at the start of this process (your summary of what it was you wanted from your new career/way of working). This is also the point at which to consider the likely time and financial requirements of each option and the viability of these. Again, be wary of dismissing potential options simply because they require upfront training/set-up costs which you don’t currently have funding for. Instead, ask yourself what would need to happen or what you would need to do to be able to cover those costs.  

Landing on the perfect new career that ‘ticks all the boxes’ can be challenging, particularly if you have a very specific list of requirements – in which case, you’ll need to think about what’s most important to you in considering which line(s) of work to pursue. Rather than focusing on just one thing, you may decide that you’d like to pursue two or more lines of work as part of your portfolio career – in which case, you will also need to think about how well these fit together. Where are the synergies? Are there any potential conflicts? Which do you want to focus on first?

If you think you’d benefit from some professional support to help you assess the relative merits of your short-listed options and come to a decision on which one(s) to move forward with and/or to help you create a viable plan that aligns with the new working identity you’re looking to create for yourself, then please get in touch.

If you found this article useful, you may be interested in the following: 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12
Written by Anne Melbourne, Work-focused change coach
Melksham, Wiltshire, SN12

Anne Melbourne is a transformational coach specialising in work-focused change for those in mid-life and beyond.

Anne helps mid-lifers re-imagine work to create sustainable lives they love - changing the work they’re doing or the way they’re working, so it’s more meaningful, more sustainable and better supports their longevity and wellbeing.

Show comments

Find a coach dealing with Career coaching

All coaches are verified professionals

All coaches are verified professionals