Identifying fertile ground in the search for your new career

So, you’ve taken time to explore and reflect on who you are at this stage in your working life, what’s behind the desire for change and what it is you want from your work going forwards, and you feel ready to commit to making a change – now it’s time to get creative and start to compile an initial list of ideas and avenues for further exploration. At this stage, it’s about thinking widely, not trying to come up with ‘the perfect answer’ (the ideal new career that ticks all the boxes – on paper at least…).


Maybe you’ve already got a few ideas you’d like to explore, which can form the start-point for this – but don’t worry if not – there are plenty of other resources you can tap into as you start to compile this list.

If you’ve identified specific societal issues that you’d like your work to contribute to solving, then consider the avenues that this might open for you in terms of possible new career options. Even if you don’t know the specific types of roles available in the sector you’re interested in, try to identify the sort of organisation you’d enjoy working for and the sort of role you’d enjoy doing. 

Also, think about whether any of your hobbies might lend themselves to being turned into a business venture, perhaps on a part-time basis as part of a portfolio career.

In addition to the things you enjoy doing now, it can also be helpful to look back at the sorts of activities you’ve been drawn to in the past, the long-since abandoned hobbies and childhood passions, to help identify other potential avenues for exploration. Are there any common threads?

Or maybe you have friends or business associates who are engaged in work that appeals to you? 

Changing careers in later life means that you have the benefit of many years of valuable learning from your past career(s) and wider life experience which you can tap into too. Again, think back to roles or projects that you particularly enjoyed doing, and ask yourself what it was that made them so enjoyable. Was it the people, the location, the opportunity to use specific skills, the nature of the role, the project or organisation – or a combination of these?

Think widely – allow this phase to be an open process of idea generation – don’t try to rationalise or evaluate any of the ideas at this stage, just note them down for further investigation, even if they’re not fully formed or, on the face of it, don’t look realistic. 

It can also be helpful to create a ‘skills inventory’ for yourself – as it’s likely you’ve acquired a whole load of transferable skills over the years – many of which you may not even recognise as a ‘skill’ as they’re pretty much second nature to you. Ask other people who’ve worked with you or know you well what specific skills and attributes they value in you. Again, think about the things you enjoy doing – what are skills that underpin these activities? How could these be applied in alternative contexts? What additional avenues might this open up?

Organising your list of ideas

Once you’ve generated your initial list of ideas, compiled your skills inventory and taken time to reflect on what roles or projects from your past career you particularly enjoyed doing and why, then it’s time to review these in the round – are there any common threads or links between them that you might previously have been unaware of? It might be helpful to create a mind map or other diagrammatic representation of your list of ideas/skills and strengths/past career highlights, so you can group similar items together and identify common themes.

If you think you’d benefit from some professional support to challenge your thinking and encourage you to take a broader perspective as you look to put together your initial list of ideas, or to help you identify your skills and strengths, dig deeper into what it was about past roles and projects that you particularly enjoyed, or to bring all of these elements together and identify the common threads between them, then please get in touch. As a naturally creative and conceptual thinker, I’d love to help you figure this out! 

If you found this article useful, you may also 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.

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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.

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