Let’s say you’re at mid-career now. Do any of these thoughts or situations apply to you?
… You’re bored, exhausted, and restless. Staying in the same job for another ten or twenty years feels like a prison sentence to you.
… You find yourself looking back over your career and regretting what you could have done if you had made different choices.
… You’re shocked at how quickly the last 20 or 25 years have gone and how much of your time and energy was spent on advancing your career to get better jobs and promotions.
… Money has become less of a motivator, and you shake your head in disbelief when you think about the crummy jobs you took (or stayed in) because of the money.
… You remember promising yourself that you would not be like those before you and work in the same job for decades until retirement.
What should you do?
This is a complex question to answer.
Logically, you know that change could be good and lead to exciting personal growth. But change is also scary. Leaving behind a respectable job with a steady income and nice benefits is difficult.
Here are a few exercises to answer this question for yourself.
Learn more about yourself by taking personality and aptitude tests.
Most people never invest the time to reflect on themselves. These tests can help you identify your skills, strengths, weaknesses, preferences, values, and interests and could suggest career possibilities you might not have thought were possible before. Many of these tests are available online and some are free.
Develop a list of the most important things you need in a job to be fulfilled.
- How important are these things to you?
- Meaningful work
- Job security
- Physical location
- Work environment
- Company reputation
- Good boss
- Status and title
- Professional growth
- Work/life balance
- Scope of responsibility
- Advancement opportunities
- Values alignment
Some items on this list might be absolutely essential to you. Others are ‘nice-to-haves.’ Some are not important at all. Once you have completed the review, you might want to rank them from most important to least important.
Prepare a list of your transferable skills that you could apply elsewhere.
Many people successfully transition into very different jobs by identifying and marketing their transferable skills. I know accountants who became bankers. Private sector managers who became non-profit executive directors. Sales reps who became fundraisers. Lawyers who became teachers. Retired police who became municipal administrators.
Create a list of jobs you would love to do, assuming money was not an obstacle.
This activity might seem impractical at first. The thought of giving up the financial security of your job is frightening. But it will help you isolate job characteristics that excite you.
Finally, seek advice from experts in the field you are considering.
Contrary to what you might think, you will find that people are willing to share their thoughts and opinions on your career options. Moreover, their advice could be invaluable.