How to make a strategic career change in 2017

You know how it goes:

  • The Sunday night dreads. The ache in pit of your stomach. All the signs are there.
  • You have outgrown your job.
  • Maybe you loved it once, but times have changed and you have changed.
  • Maybe you never even intended to have a career of that kind but it just 'sort of' happened to you.
  • Maybe you reached a dead end.
  • Maybe you now have other dreams.

Whatever, the reason, you know it is time for a change.

So, how do you get started?

Over the last fifteen years, I've helped hundreds of professionals devise a plan of action for a strategic career change. Here are the three important actions you need to take.

1. Ruminate on what you want to keep.

You don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If you have had a certain amount of success in your career, there are probably elements that you would like to hold on. Do you love to be part of a busy team? Enjoy the autonomy of doing your own research? Like to be driven toward a target or goal?

Find the bits you want to keep and make a note of them - you will do best if you find a career that keeps the best bits of your former life.

2. Work out what you have grown out of.

What are the things you would happily never do again? Sign off expense forms? Fill in tenders? Design products you don't believe in? Again, take an inventory of the things you will gladly leave behind and, in your search, be sure to check that these are not major components of the role. Sure, everyone has bits of their job they like least (mine is VAT returns), but making a new choice means you have an opportunity to upgrade.

3. Decide what success looks like for you.

We are constantly bombarded with messages about what success is supposed to look and feel like - the media, social media, our friends, families, peers, educators, they all have a view. But if you are thinking of choosing again in 2017, you need to be able to hear the voice inside that has a very personal definition of success. You need to know if getting home at a sensible hour is a greater victory than making partner. Or if being able to travel has you feeling more successful than having a five minute commute by bike.

We are unique. So are our definitions of success.

When you combine what you love with what makes you feel successful, work never becomes a chore.

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