A major roadblock when it comes to changing careers, is the massive and extremely common fear of choosing the wrong thing. You literally get so paralysed by indecision that you don’t choose anything at all. And the next thing you know another few years have gone by and you’re still stuck in the wrong job.
It might sound something like this to you:
- I have so many different ideas, how do I know which one will be best?
- Is there something else out there that would be perfect for me?
- What if I make a mistake, choose the wrong direction and land up miserable again!
All of these questions and concerns are of course a direct result of RoadBlock One – i.e trying to do a career change in your head. Though, yes, you need to have an understanding of yourself – your strengths, needs and desired environments – these do not point only to one profession or solution. The reality is that there may be MANY possibilities that would suit you and be fundamentally satisfying, each dependent on your situation and needs at the time. And so it is less about the ‘perfect’ choice and more about ‘good’ choices and to make good choices you need to arm yourself with information.
The trick then, is to follow your ideas through, so that you can flesh out your understanding of these areas. Otherwise its like trying to decide whether you will actually like a certain wine by looking at the label. You might have a pretty good sense of whether you will or not, but you only know for sure when you taste it.
Doing so achieves a number of things:
- It could confirm a possibility as a good one, arming you with the informed confidence to act.
- You may find that your research takes you to a whole new arena that you would never have arrived at, had you not started to put out feelers in the first place.
- You might also find you discount ideas that hitherto were appealing, because you find that the reality of these professions is quite different from what you had imagined. As anyone who has too many ideas to choose from knows, that is a useful conclusion as it narrows your options and helps you to actually hone in on the rest.
The other possibility of course is that you might not want to do just one thing. It is becoming more and more commonplace for us to have a couple of different work strands each serving our needs in very different ways; and together adding up to a rich way of living and working. This has the advantage too of taking the huge pressure of choice off you, allowing you to experiment and let things evolve rather than making a black and white decision that in reality can be a stark, forced and artificial way to move ahead.
With all of these you need to start somewhere though, so pick one idea, ideally starting with the one that appeals the most, and follow it through….you may be surprised where it leads you.
For those of you who have been thinking about what you want to do, but still find yourself staring at the same wall or ceiling – you’ve hit the classic careershift road block. Here’s what we do, we think….. and think…… and think…..and THINK about what we would really like to do, but we don’t DO anything about it.
If that’s the case with you, the chances are you’ve been asking yourself one of these questions:
- What could I do
- What on earth could I do
Coupled with A LOT of ‘if-onlys’:
- If only I knew what I wanted to do
- If only I had made better choices
- If only I was younger
- If only I could afford to change
Now, as intelligent and (occasionally) rational beings, thinking is an essential cognitive process through which we try and understand ourselves and our world. And of course you need to think through things if you’re considering what to do next. But at some level it becomes counterproductive: you go around in a loop, going over the same well worn questions, feeling the same old fears, and arriving nowhere. Again!
So, you need an injection of something new. Einstein is famous for saying ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it”. He also said ‘Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex… It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.’
What’s needed is a fresh perspective. External input. Tangible information. First, pick a primary question – what am I actually good at, what am I really interested in, how could I do x, what’s involved in profession y –and make it your mission to find out. I have worked with hundreds of people through career change and I know that the difference between those that do and those that don’t… is…well, those that DO. Plus you may not realize it, but all those years of thinking will have brewed some ideas. You just haven’t DONE anything about them. YET.
There’s (rather inconveniently) no such thing as a ‘remote control’ career change. You can’t do it in your head. You have to get out there and follow a line of inquiry through, taking yourself out of your head and into the world. The thing is when you do, you start to find things out, you start to meet people, things start to change, a picture starts to form…