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Last Updated on September 5, 2021

How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide)

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How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret your career decisions? Do you feel content getting out of bed and thinking about the day of work ahead? If the answers to these questions lead to a negative feeling, it may be time to consider a career change.

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can redirect the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know If You Need a Career Change

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. This can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain, and internal health issues. But more importantly, everyone deserves to be happy.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire for true happiness. One that utilizes our talents and passions but doesn’t make us uncomfortable or even lead to depression. It’s not just about how tired we are of our jobs. You can be exhausted but still be happy in your career. But if you’re exhausted, unfulfilled and sad? It might be time for change. Here are some common signs that it is time for you to become a career changers and seek out your dream job.

Physical Signs

Have you aged more since you started your job? Do you have day-to-day anxiety? What about work-related injuries? Take not of these things. The stress on your mind may manifest in your body.

It feels amazing to receive a pay check, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best in you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that your colleagues or boss takes advantage of your kindness, feeling anxiety due to the fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you. The fact that you don’t feel safe approaching your colleagues or employers may be a warning sign.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • Neck tension
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel that your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. Your career woes doesn’t just start and end with you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life, such as friends and family.

Emotional Signs

Is your work making you feel numb and apathetic to everything around you? Just because you’re not explicitly angry or distressed, does not mean you’re in an emotionally healthy state.

Having an unfulfilling and stressful career can affect even your personal life. Things that you used to be excited about may seem boring to you now. You may even seem less empathetic to your friends and family.

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If you feel like you’ve lost the ability to feel anything – whether that be happiness, anger or even jealousy – your work may be the root cause.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career change are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

It is important to think about the work situation because some people decide to change careers for factors that are insignificant or have viable solutions—factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here are some elements to consider before you decide to make a career change:

1. The Desire for a Higher Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe that they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one expects. Instead of leaving your current position to look for a higher-paying one, you can talk with your boss to see if there is any possibility of a raise—now or in a couple of years. You can even see if you can re-negotiate your contract to include more benefits.

2. A High-Stress Moment

While long-term stress is unhealthy and should ultimately be avoided in order to preserve your health, moments of stress at a job are natural. For example, you may be working on a big presentation for a new client; this will inevitably lead to some stress, but the reward may be worth it. Don’t make the mistake of confusing long-term and short-term stress.

Make sure you think carefully before leaving a job during a temporary moment of high stress. Look at the bigger picture. Is this something that repeatedly happens or a one-time situation? Is the stress coming from outside pressure or just your own expectations?

3. Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds like a lengthy process, but, at times, a promotion requires time. Try not to jump the gun and change careers just because you got rejected for a promotion once[2]. Consider giving it time; the situation may change in a year or two.

This is also a good time to reflect on the reason your were rejected. It’s an opportunity for growth. Ask the HR team or your supervisors for feedback and they may give you advise that could help you improve and reach greater heights.

4. Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a repetitive job, it is normal to feel bored.

You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work, or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is a change of perspective.

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Final Decision

A career change can take time; networking, education, and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

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  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work?
  • Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Are you excited by the prospect of advancing in your current career?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?
  • Can you change your situation without needing to leave your work?
  • Are your struggles caused by internal or external factors?
  • Are you willing to make changes to improve your situation?
  • When was the last time you were excited to come into work?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem, or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You may be ready for a career change if you experience one or all of these:

A Negative Workplace

If negativity greets you at the door each time you arrive to work, moving to a new business or organization may be the right decision in order to preserve your mental health.

A Difficult Boss

You likely won’t get along with your boss 100% of the time, but they should, at the very least, be respectful of you and your time. If that’s not the case, address the issue directly with them. If that doesn’t work, it may be time for a career change.

Feeling Lost

Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in new activities, remember that life is short, and mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

Company Culture

Every workplace has a culture in place, one that’s stated in their website, and another that’s actually the truth. The thing is your personality may not jive with the company culture, and it’s neither your fault nor the company’s. Perhaps you thrive on high pressure and stringent rules, but your company is more laidback and spontaneous. It may not work for you, but it works for everyone else. Ask yourself if the culture is something you can adjust to or even embrace. And if not, it might be time to make a switch.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step-by-step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a deadline for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking, or improving issues at work, among other career goals.[3] A career plan should be kept in sight because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest to you. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used for a variety of roles or career paths.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds as a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

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A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[4]

  • Economic factors: Does the career path meet your financial expectations and needs?
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Will you need to move for a new position? Are you willing to relocate?
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition, achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work, or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars, or self-study are all options.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about your desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or for extra benefits to make up for the difference.

    Just because a position pays more, doesn’t mean it will improve your quality of life. If you would need to move to a new location, you might want to check the cost of living in that new city.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials, or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve-wracking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, there are other roles that will make you happy. You may need to take small steps as you switch careers in order to get into the position you really want.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person who wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

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    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget, and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity. It’s also a great opportunity to learn new skills and gain experience. It’ll look great in your resume when you’re ready to apply for that position.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague, or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance.

    Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    Online Search

    Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching for images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.

    Prepare Your LinkedIn

    Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. In many instances, recruiters actually make first contact with potential employees on LinkedIn. Make sure your LinkedIn profile highlights skills and experiences that are relevant to the career or industry you want to get into. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.

    Portfolio

    A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design, and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.

    Cover Letter

    A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover a role in a career field that is the best fit for your skillset.

    Master these action steps to complete a career change on your terms, so you can make the best decision for your future.

    More About Changing Careers

    Featured photo credit: Bethany Legg via unsplash.com

    Reference

    Trending in Career Success

    1 How To Be Proactive At Work: 7 Habits To Build 2 How to Make the Career Change You Need (The Complete Guide) 3 How to Find the Right Career When You’re Undecided 4 How To Be a Self-Starter And Take Initiative At Work 5 How to Become a Motivational Speaker (Step-By-Step Guide)

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    Last Updated on September 5, 2021

    How To Be Proactive At Work: 7 Habits To Build

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    How To Be Proactive At Work: 7 Habits To Build

    I don’t know about you, but it was nearly impossible for me to be proactive at work last year.

    Every week, I would map out my game plan and color-coded my calendar. But when I tried to set things in motion, I faced ten-foot barriers that would force me to change direction. I’d have to reschedule meetings, push deadlines back, and reorganize my life because of all the twists and turns. Pivoting became my life, and it was taking over every part of it.

    When I think back to 2020, it was like trying to survive the Tour de France blindfolded. By the end of the year, I was worn out, and I was in no mood to organize my 2021 goals. Being proactive was the furthest from my mind. In many ways, I didn’t even want to dream about new projects.

    When January 1st entered the scene, I crawled back under my covers and hoped for the best—or at least a year that would be more predictable with less pivoting.

    You want to be hopeful for this year, but a part of you is afraid of another year filled with more barriers and you’re tired of trying to survive the chaos. You’re not alone.

    Over 100,000 businesses have permanently shut their doors because of Covid-19.[1] Start-Ups aren’t getting a second chance.[2] And according to Pew Research, one in four adults still have a hard time finding money to pay their bills.[3]

    This reality is not the most inspiring for those of us who are business leaders. If anything, it feels like the grim reaper is right around the corner to destroy our dreams and add us to the rising number of failed companies.

    Being proactive is one of the most challenging things to muster right now. But it is one of the most imperative traits that we need to embrace.

    But first, let’s be clear, what does being proactive mean?

    Defining the Term “Proactive” In-Depth

    The word proactive often floats around the workplace, usually by well-meaning managers asking employees or their team to, “Be more proactive!” But have you ever stopped to think about what that actually means?

    The dictionary definition of proactive is, “acting in anticipation of future problems, needs, or changes.”

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    Being proactive is about dealing with any obstacles or challenges before they even happen. Simply put, a proactive person plans ahead.

    For example, you’re buying an older home. The seller tells you that it has a sturdy foundation and an engineer confirms it. Most people would be satisfied with this answer.

    A proactive person, however, would think beyond what’s presented and look into any potential issues. They may ask questions like, “How long is the lifespan of the foundation?”, “Is it earthquake ready?”, or “Does insurance cover the foundation?”

    Depending on the answers, proactive people would respond accordingly and put safeguards in place to avoid these problems or minimise its impact. While it seems like a lot of resources and effort are spent at the beginning, it can actually lessen your stress and save you time and effort because you’re either preventing a problem or already have a solution at hand when the challenge arises.

    This doesn’t mean that proactive people never have to put out fires on occasion. However, when you have a proactive mindset, most of the issues that come up seemingly out of left field are already something you’ve considered. And this makes you better equipped to handle situations calmly and enact a solution.

    If you want your business to succeed this year, you need to be proactive at work. Situations around the world are constantly changing and you never know what the next month, year or even hour might bring and how it would affect your work. Planning ahead and preparing for the future is incredibly vital in our current climate.

    Proactivity vs Reactivity

    We can’t discuss proactivity without exploring the other side of the coin: Reactivity.

    Being reactive is the complete opposite of being proactive. A reactive person doesn’t feel the need to address a problem until it’s already occurred. They simply react to a situation because it’s already there.

    Spontaneity and the ability to address problems as they arise is important in leadership, and in life. After all, we cannot predict the future no matter how hard we try. But oftentimes reactive people encounter problems because they refuse to take action even though there have been warning signs of imminent trouble.

    Reactivity also comes from a place of panic. Because you have not thought or planned ahead, you react instantaneously. You may not offer the best solution because you haven’t had time to fully review the situation, and maybe even create more problems.

    It won’t be easy, but it will be a lot easier with the following practical habits that I’ve put together for you. These tools will make all the difference for you and your organization.

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    7 Practical Habits to Turn Reactivity into Proactivity

    Even proactive people can exhibit reactive behavior. No one is perfect and the corporate and business world can be unpredictable. But you can turn things around and be proactive even when you have not anticipated challenges that face you. Here are some tips:

    1. Don’t Be Busy

    Repeat after me: only do what is necessary—no more and no less.

    If you’re anything like me, as soon as January 1st comes along, you cram in all your five-year goals into one packed year. You love seeing your schedule filled. But being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Being proactive requires you to take a step back, reevaluate your priorities, and actually take things off of your plate before adding new goals.

    The brain is not designed to always operate at full capacity twenty-four hours a day.[4] It needs a break. If we’re constantly immersing ourselves throughout the day with frivolous tasks, then we don’t have time to concentrate on our goals.

    This year, I’m taking a break from the chaos and learning to do fewer tasks with more investment.

    Think of it this way. Planning takes time. It’s like painting an apartment. Before you can add color to the drab walls of your living room, you have to plan and prep the area. The same is true for being proactive at work.

    2. Stop Trying to Run Everyone’s Race

    If you want to direct the narrative of your life, you need to take a step back and get rid of the clutter. Figure out what you can delegate and then, focus your energy away from the distractions. Not every email needs a reply, and not every job is right for you.

    Shakespeare said it best,[5]

    “To thine own self be true.”

    These six words need to become your mantra.

    If you want to reach your goals this year and be proactive, you need to walk forward with laser focus. If you compare yourself or your business to the next big thing, you won’t contribute anything except a lesser copy of yourself and your organization.

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    Part of being proactive is being creative. You have to be able to see the different angles and nuances in a situation or project in order to anticipate potential issues and come up with creative solutions. If you’re constantly looking over someone else’s work, you’re not focusing on what’s in front of you. And you could end up missing a lot of obstacles that you could’ve avoided if you were paying attention.

    Stop looking around. Your purpose is not to run the race of someone else. If you want to be proactive at work, you need to stop comparing yourself to your neighbor and stick to running your own race. It’s the only way that you’ll win.

    3. Make “Essentialism” Your 2021 Word

    When you’re figuring out your 2021 goals, take time to weigh the cost. Ask yourself if it’s worth the investment. Being proactive means that you take into consideration all the variables before cementing your goals.

    Before you map out your plan or get crazy with those highlighters, ask yourself these two questions:

    • Will this goal help create balance in my life?
    • Will this goal produce a return on investment?

    If you can answer a resounding “yes” to both of these questions, then take these ideas and write them down on a piece of paper.

    After you’ve compiled a list of 15 to 20 ideas, take a new sheet of paper and break it into two columns. The first section should contain a list of goals that take priority. These ideas would fall under the umbrella of being trend-related and financially profitable.

    The second section should contain a list of goals that will increase your social proof and promote your priority goals. This column drives traffic and promotes awareness of your business and your product.

    After you’ve compiled this list, break it in half and cut it down to three goals in each section. Three is the perfect number because it gives you leeway to pivot and bend if you need to make changes throughout the process.

    The two excellent tools that have helped me develop a schedule of essentialism are Hilary Rushford’s Elegant Excellence Journal[6] and Jill Konrath’s book, “More Sales. Less Time.

    Both of these tools have helped me focus on what’s important, make the best decisions for my business, and make a profit without sacrificing my health.

    4. Order the Same Latte

    When you look at the greats in the business world, they all encompass one thing: simplicity.

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    If you minimize your choices and stick to the basics, you’ll have the ability to save time and focus your energy on decisions that require your creativity. Keeping up with the latest fashion trends not only sacrifices your time but also sacrifices your budget.

    Remember, it’s not about looking successful. It’s about making choices that give you the ability to be successful.

    Here are four things that you can do to save time to make you more proactive at work:

    • Buy multiples of the same outfit and mix and match throughout the week.
    • Order the same drink each day from the same coffee shop.
    • Prepare meals at the beginning of the week for lunch and dinner.
    • Set your alarm for the same time each morning, including weekends.

    5. Don’t Pressure Yourself to Respond Immediately

    It’s okay to be surprised or be blindsided. Sometimes things just happen that is out of your control. What you are in control of, however, is your reaction. There’s nothing wrong with not having a solution or response at hand. It’s okay to take a step back and think about it first before responding.

    6. Put a Pin on It

    If you find yourself being unable to come up with a good solution, you can put a pin on it. You may want to address another matter first, one you already know how to deal with. It may give you inspiration and confidence when you come back to your other issues. Unless of course the imminent problem is fire outside your door.

    7. Prioritize What’s Important

    The thing with problems that come up suddenly, is that they may have already caused damage you can’t reverse. You have to learn to accept the situation and instead of trying to solve the unsolvable, prioritize what’s important, see what you can salvage and take note of lessons that will help you in the future.

    It’s impossible to be proactive if you feel rushed. But if you follow the above tips, you’ll gain more time in your schedule and have more energy to lead your business and operate with a well-organized game plan.

    Final Thoughts

    I think the majority of us are tired of feeling like we’re contestants in Survivor. After all, who wants to be filmed while living in the woods and surviving off of bugs and tree bark?

    All kidding aside. This past year has been challenging. But we can learn a lot from these past twelve months.

    If you want to be proactive, simplify your schedule, focus on your path, only take what you need, and be purposeful with your time and energy. Being proactive is not about filling up your schedule. It’s about creating balance in your life.

    I know it seems daunting right now, and many of us are still trying to figure out how to pay this month’s rent with spare change from the couch. But if you take the time to prepare and figure out what’s a priority this year, you’ll not only meet your goals, you’ll enjoy the journey.

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    You have all the tools you need to be proactive at work. Now, go map out your 2021 goals for the year!

    More Tips on How to Be Proactive

    Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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