Do you dread going to work every day? Does something feel “off” in your current job? Do you dream of doing something different? Here are four strategies that’ll help you decide if it’s just a "slump" or if it might be time to pursue a different career altogether.
1. Think About What You Want
Start by writing down your career likes, dislikes, hopes, and dreams. What do you love about what you are currently doing, and what doesn’t really bring you joy? Ask others around you – what do they feel that you are especially good at? Take a quiet moment and think - who do you know of that has a job you’d love? What if you could trade jobs with that person? Would you do it? Pinpoint what it is about their job that interests you so.
Once you’ve identified a few things you might be interested in; see if you can shadow professionals currently working in a similar role to get a sense of what their daily work life is like. Remember, things are not always what they seem. Frequent traveling for business might seem glamorous on the outside, but the person packing their suitcase every week might be able to lend a different perspective.
Begin taking note of skills that you may need to acquire to work in this role. Take a look at local colleges and online programs that might assist you in getting the training you need.
2. Build New Skills
Lifelong learning is something that everyone should pursue – whether they have an itch to secure a different job or not. Taking advantage of professional development and training opportunities ensures that you are up to date on the latest in your field and shows current (and future) employers that you are committed to your job and to being the best you can be.
We’re not just talking hard skills here. Look at the people who you admire. What makes them good at their job? While some of these may be technical, hard skills – we’ll bet that they also utilize ‘soft skills’ – skills such as problem solving, effective listening, or being able to talk in a crowd.
In addition to seeking out online courses and webinars, join professional organizations and attend conferences in person to stay ‘in the know’ about the latest learnings in your field.
Oftentimes it’s not only what you know, but who you know. Those professional organizations we mentioned in the above step? They’ll provide you with important contacts both inside and outside your industry. Sign up for committees at your workplace outside of your normal department. Join meetups and build relationships with people who interest you. Stay active on LinkedIn and make sure your personal social sites represent who you want the world to see.
4. Act the part
Envision yourself in your new career. How would you act, dress, talk to others? Pay attention to how other professionals in the careers you seek conduct themselves. How to they handle themselves in a meeting? How do they interact with others?
Make note of how this is different than the career you’ve already got. Start taking steps to put yourself in the role you desire – not only mentally, but in how you present yourself to others as well.
Incorporating the above strategies may very well breathe new life into your existing career, or they may give you the necessary tools to make a career change altogether. It’s always a good idea to gauge at our happiness and satisfaction levels in our work life and plan for the future. When the right opportunity presents itself – you’ll be ready!