8 Things to Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Change Your Career

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By Cynthia Dalton
It is never too late to be what you might have been. — George Eliot

We All Have Dreams

Did you know that Tom Cruise believed he wanted to be a Catholic priest before he found a passion for acting? It’s true. Google it. We all have dreams and goals — if we don’t, there’s something very wrong. Over time, those dreams and goals change as we learn our own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. For some, a first career choice is a case of practicality over calling and passion. That’s okay. In fact, it builds character, self-confidence, and discipline. Many of us are currently in one line of work, and are reassessing where we are, and where we want to go. If this describes you, congratulations! You’re at a very exciting moment in your life. Of course, it can also be a daunting moment, as you weigh current circumstances and responsibilities against the steps it will take to make the transition.

Don’t Rush It

It’s okay to be anxious about making a change. Healthy, actually. It took time to get to this point, so don’t rush the process now. A careful, well-researched, and thoroughly thought through plan will serve you the best in the long run. After all, you’re not changing jobs within the same industry, you’re changing industries. It’s a big move and you owe it to yourself to take your time.

8 Questions to Ask Yourself

Forbes has a great list, 16 Things to Think About When You’re Considering a Career Change, in which they cover practical questions pertaining to such things as a transferable skill set, a willingness to start over, affordability, and retraining. Check it out.

Also, check out a nice roundup of links on the topic at themuse.com.

Sometimes a little soul-searching is also in order to weed out any confused thinking we may have.

Here are 8 more things to consider:

1. Is it my line of work that doesn’t fulfill me, or something else in my life?

The truth may be that you don’t like living in California when your family is back home in New Jersey. Consider whether your line of work is the source of your dissatisfaction.

2. Am I simply restless and bored?

Your job does not have to be the primary source of fulfillment. Is it possible you need to do volunteer work or moonlight?

3. Do I just need more challenge right where I am?

Perhaps you need to take initiative and tackle something your boss didn’t know you could do — this often opens up new possibilities.

4. Am I addicted to the adrenaline of risk-taking?

A test for this is how impulsive you’re being in moving ahead. Have you taken the time to do your homework or are you thinking of just diving in head-first (which would be a red flag)?

5. Am I being realistic as to the likely competition?

There’s a lot of competition out there, especially between different age groups. Are you a good fit for that industry or is it dominated by the younger or older generation? Note: being realistic about this doesn’t mean giving up. If it’s truly your calling, you can use what’s different about you to stand out, rather than stay out.

6. Can I handle failure or initial rejection?

Anything worth doing takes hard work and usually involves false starts, mistakes, and possibly even getting fired. Are you still game to try?

7. Do I have the patience I need?

You can count on it — it will take longer than you think and you’ll have to work through things you hadn’t anticipated. Can you delay gratification and see it through?

8. Can I see myself staying enthusiastic in my new career over the long haul?

Is this so exciting that you know each morning you’ll be eager to jump out of bed and get going?

Take Your First Steps

If you’ve considered all of the above carefully, and you know the direction in which you want to go as well as what it will take to get there, then take your first steps with confidence. After all, Julia Child didn’t enroll in culinary school until age 37, and that decision changed her life.

What do you think?

  • Do you love the work you do?
  • Have you thought about changing careers?
  • Are you currently transitioning from one field into another?




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