I recently ran into a former colleague in the street. He has been a salesman on Wall Street for 20 years. He was the model salesman when I was starting out in the business, praised and emulated by all. I never thought I would hear him say “I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m looking for something new” but he did say that and I could tell from the look on his face that he didn’t know where to start.
Where do you start when you have done the same job for 10,15 or 20 years? When the thoughts going through your head are, “I don’t know how to do anything else” or “I’m too old to do something new…”
Here are the first four steps to making the career change you crave:
1. Take a really good assessment test that will remind you of your strengths and areas of interest. Some tests are available online and others are offered by career and executive coaches such as myself
Knowing your strengths and interests will allow you to think creatively about new career opportunities with greater confidence
2. Make a list of needs that you have in life and in your job. For example, do you have child care expenses? Do you need a stable income or can your financial situation handle a fluctuating income? Do you need/want more freedom during the day or do you prefer the consistency of a daily routine?
Know your limitations – being realistic and more specific means that you are more likely to move toward and take action.
3. Ask yourself this set of questions:
1. Do I know what I want to do? If yes what is stopping me from moving forward? Confidence? A partner? Fear?
2. If I don’t know what I want to do, how can I find out?
a. What transferable skills do I have? When answering this question try to ignore the internal voices of self-doubt or criticism. Be open to any and all ideas. You might think that your skills aren’t transferable – I urge you to ignore these thoughts and continue to brainstorm.
b. What type of jobs/industries do I have connection to in my current role? For example if you are a director of marketing at a credit card company you obviously are connected and have experience in banking and marketing but is it possible you also have an understanding for consumer behavior, branding, maybe social media?
c. What would I do if I had no limitations? In this question try to focus more on what kind of day would make you happy rather than exactly what job you want to have? Would you prefer to be indoors or out? Have a routine or a unpredictable day? Be surrounded by people or work alone? Try to be as specific as possible.
The answers to these question hopefully will start to reveal some hidden opportunities that you can start to explore.
Start with no limitations and true options will be open to you.