Which signs are you reading? Is a complete career change required or not?
I live at the end of a road that many years ago (14 to be exact) was a through road. Today there are bollards – erected by the council - across the road to stop cars using this single-track lane as a shortcut. There is a sign as you enter from the main road which reads “no through road”. At the bottom of our garden, as a last resort, the council have put up more signs: there is a “dead-end” sign, a second sign that says no access and a third sign which flags that the only access above our house is for pedestrians and bicycles. And still, around six times daily people whizz past our house and up to the bollards, and then slowly reverse back down the hill and U-turn in our drive to descend the mile or so to the main road and reset their satnavs...
I know we’ve probably all ignored signs along the way (we’re only human after all) – but it just goes to show that if we are set on a course of action, we can often only see the signs we want to see and it doesn’t matter how many signs there are to the contrary.
I regularly meet people personally and professionally who are unsure about the career path they now want to pursue and I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that many, deep down, are actually sure about what they want to do and it is this that can hold them back, as much as not knowing.
In the same way that signs can stop us from taking a wrong turn (if we read them), they can also lead us up the right path too. The challenge for some is accepting the obvious signs because, when you are looking to make a big change, it is easy to believe that the search needs to be just as onerous and that pursuing the obvious route is a bit of a cop out. In this context it can be a good idea to keep an eye on the prize. That is not to say that you shouldn’t interrogate all the options but be open to all the possibilities (and signs) including the obvious ones.
Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!
Just because you may hate what you are doing right now doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be happy doing the same thing somewhere else – so before you make a complete change, consider whether it is a complete change of job or career you’re after or an adjustment. Could you do your current profession in a different industry or is there another job in the same company that would better suit you now?
And if you are clear that a change is what you want, what expertise or experience do you have that is transferable? They say that the best jobs are when they don’t feel like work - do you have a passion or talent that you could commodities?
Understanding the level of change that you are really comfortable with can be really important too - what is practical, given your individual circumstances, and could you afford to retrain or take a cut in salary while you specialise?
All in all you need be sure that you enter into the process of change with an open mind and your eyes wide open – are you doing the research to prove you’re right or to prove yourself wrong? The challenge with research and advice is there can be so much of it. Yes, you need to establish some filters - the trick is to be honest with yourself about what your agenda is i.e. don’t ask for advice only from those you know will give you the advice you want to hear, ideally seek a point of view left, right and straight ahead.
If you think about finding a new career as being a journey, making the decision to go on that journey and deciding where you want to end up are just the start, enjoy planning the journey towards arriving at your destination and make sure you pack snacks – oh and don’t be afraid to ask for directions along the way if you find you’re going off-course.