It’s easy to say, “I’ll never stay at a job I don’t love,” when you are young, green, and new to the working world. But then life kicks in. You may have a family to support, a mortgage bank to keep happy, student debt to repay, and many other expenses that rely on your job even if you loathe showing up each week.
If you are at the crossroads and ready to take on a new career, it’s important to find a job before you leave a job (if that’s an option). Quitting a job without any goal in mind will leave you more stressed out—and possibly penniless—than you were sitting in a cubicle at a job you hate.
Here are some words of wisdom when setting out on that road to a new career:
Figure out why you want to leave
Are you trying to move away from something or toward something? Moving toward a larger goal is far more empowering than getting out of a bad situation. Finding the ideal career is easier when you look at it in a positive way. Dream big and go for something you know you will love for years to come.
Decide to leave soon
As soon as you know you are unhappy, start working on an exit strategy. The longer you wait, the less likely you will be to leave the position. You will feel tempted to stick it out, hoping things will improve. When you go through this on a daily basis, you may feel less inclined to search for a new job because your confidence level will diminish.
Create a vision
Think about your ideal workday, preferred commute time, whether you want to own a business, work for a start-up, or get in with a 100-year old company. Put yourself in an ideal normal day and figure out the details. How do you want your life to look?
Take your time
You got into a bad position and are looking for a way out. Don’t just take what you can get. Spend time looking for the right career so when you make a switch, you will be happy in a new position that offers longevity.
Figure out what you enjoy
Rather than focusing on what you don’t like about your current job and would change, focus on what you enjoy doing. Take those skills you learned, your education, and talents and turn them into a new career.
Be honest about your skills
If you’re an accountant who’s never flown a plane and would love to be a pilot, you have a pretty significant gap in skills. Not to say your dreams will never happen, but you have to be realistic about what you can or cannot do right away. If you want to change fields now, look at options that are closely related to your skills and expertise. If you have some time, think about what education you will need to get you where you want to be.
Reconnect with your values
Many people go into a field because they want to make a difference in the world. They realize later on that it’s not possible in their position. Start to think about your values and how you can incorporate those into a career. What do you admire about yoru heroes? What single world issue would you want to solve? What angers you most? What makes you happiest? What legacy would you like to leave?
Don’t get caught up in numbers or titles
If you are in a high paying position with an astute title, this may prevent you from finding what you enjoy. Don’t focus so much on the salary or the title of a new job and focus more on the happiness it will bring you. A pay cut and lower ranked position may bring you more satisfaction if it’s in a field you truly love.
The Big Question:
Are ready to change careers? Tell us why in the comments below!
Life Hacker- Jump to a New Career with a Killer Resume in Hand
Wall Street Journal- How to Change Careers