Now is the time for a change. It is the time to start something new and to find your best way forward. Retraining and restarting your career can feel daunting, but there is no other option when it’s right for you. There is a saying that claims that madness is repeating the same action and expecting a different result, so break from that madness and try something new. Discover more about who you are, what you want out of your life and your career, and make the changes you need to lead a more fulfilling, engaging life.
Even those who were lucky enough to keep working without being made redundant have experienced a massive shift in their lives. So it’s okay to realize you are done with your career path, that you are ready to start something new. It can be daunting, yes, but with this guide, you’ll understand to what extent you need to change your career and also how to more comfortably retrain and prepare for this next phase of your life:
Signs It’s Time to Make a Career Shift
First things first: is it time for a career shift? This shift can be anything from changing employers to changing industries to starting an entirely new career from scratch. Those differences, however, can be picked apart later. For now, it’s all about whether you need to make a change, any change.
One of the best indicators that you need to make a change is that your health is depleted, and these issues are ongoing. If you always feel exhausted, stressed, and find it difficult to concentrate on the job at hand, those are all red flags.
Another key sign to look out for is your self-esteem. You’ll know if you don’t feel good in a job, but if you also find that your self-esteem and confidence in your abilities is at an all-time low, it could be time to make a change towards a healthier, more fulfilling career.
If you are only working there for the money, only that money has become increasingly less incentivizing; it’s time to make a change. If you are disconnected, depressed, or highly anxious, and most of your concerns surround your job or working environment, it’s time to make a change.
Most of all, you need to make a career shift if you dream of something better. This could be something specific, in which case you are well on your way, or it could be something vague. If you wish you could quit or do something else, it’s time that you make a shift in your career.
Career Change or Job Change?
It can be difficult to understand if you need a whole new career or just a new job. As it can take time to establish and get started with a new career, the best way to figure this question out is to find a new job now. Put extra emphasis on the working culture and environment, and apply as liberally as you can. If you can secure a new position, you can easily understand whether it is the role in general or just the employer that you needed a change from.
If it turns out to be the role, then benefit from a healthier working environment and use the rest of this guide to help you make a career change and retrain with success:
Learn More About Yourself
The last thing you want to do is make a career change and then regret it later. Something to keep in mind is that typically when regret does factor in, it’s not because you only just realized that you did truly love the situation you left behind. You might instead, however, learn that what you thought you were passionate about wasn’t a good fit for you. Rather than going back, think of the next step forward.
It can be daunting to change careers for this reason. If you knew for a fact that the change in question was going to completely change your life for the better, of course, you would jump on the opportunity, but guarantees like that don’t exist.
That is why doing some introspection and soul searching is always a great idea, even if you have a very clear dream job in your head. Learn more about the available roles, about the people who are currently working in your dream job, and so on. There are so many resources online to help you go into your career change with your eyes wide open.
If you don’t have a clear-cut idea of what career or job you want, then learn. Start with your passions but don’t be afraid to try new things. Investing this time to learn more about what you are interested in, passionate about, and even good at can help you make a more informed choice about your future.
You may find that investing in yourself this way has immediately made your current job better, but if you still find yourself bored or not actively thriving in your job role, then you still owe it to yourself to start something better.
Learn More About Your Options
This is the bottom-up approach. It’s useful when you know what field you want to work in, but not which job role.
Narrowing down your future based on what you are most passionate and interested in is a great way to start. If you are interested in psychology, for example, and have a passion for helping others or have been greatly influenced by a therapist or counselor, then working as a mental health counselor yourself can be the perfect fit.
Don’t, however, stop there. While knowing you want to become a counselor is a great place to start, there are many different options available. You don’t need to pick which one you want to work as now, but knowing your options can help you be aware of what is out there and can help you naturally direct your career into the best-fitting role.
Research from the Top Down
This is the top-down approach. It’s useful when you know which role you want to work in but not how to get there.
If you know what dream job you want for yourself, but won’t be able to immediately get that job even with retraining right off the bat, then look online. Find people who have that job, and go through their careers and backgrounds. Having a list of where these professionals got started, what education options they have, and even the route they took to get where they are now can help you get started on the right path.
Always Use Existing Experience to Kickstart Your Efforts
You are not starting from scratch because that would imply that all your previous efforts studying and working have been wiped from the board. Instead, you carry those experiences and that knowledge with you. While retraining is likely necessary, that doesn’t mean that your existing knowledge is a waste. There are many ways to take your past and put it to work for your future.
One example of how you can use your existing experience towards your future is by transferring university or college credits towards your next degree. This won’t always be an option, of course, but you may be surprised at how often you can actually work to fast-track through your education by putting your existing degree to work.
If you cannot transfer your credits, then know it is always worthwhile to have a double-major. If you have an English degree, for example, getting a STEM degree isn’t going to change that; it will only add to your expertise and formal qualifications, and your employer needs to recognize that.
Use Existing Experience
You will also want to use your existing work experience to help you with your career change. There is plenty of offices, teamwork, and leadership experience that is outright universal. Not only that, but you can often use experience in a new role. If you used to work in marketing, for example, there are skills you can transfer to a mental health counselor career, particularly when it comes to getting the clinic or yourself noticed by locals.
Use Your Network
Your academic network and professional network are both important resources. Ask for advice, let your network know you are open to new experiences, and even just state your intention to the void (easily done nowadays on LinkedIn and on other job sites). You may be surprised at what comes your way, from advice to opportunities.
Take the Plunge
It can be scary to make a big change, but researching and trying new things can both work to massively increase your confidence and your ability. Even if you don’t find the right job fit for you right off the bat, you can keep going. Life is about figuring ourselves out and discovering our place in the world. It isn’t a failure if it takes you longer than others because everything is in transition, and everything is evolving. You just need to be brave enough to take a chance on yourself.