Somewhere between “I’m just grateful to have a job” and “I can’t keep living this way” is the sort of mid-career boredom that probably has you yearning to shake things up. It’s scary, though, taking a risk with your livelihood. What if you end up with nothing because you challenged the status quo?
The thing is, you only have one life to live, and sometimes it’s worth taking a gamble on yourself. Stay right here for tips on successfully shaking up your career without turning life upside down.
Start by Soul Searching
When it comes to your career, it’s important to look before you leap. If you know you’re unhappy but have no idea how to make it better, take time to explore your feelings and passions before making any changes.
Consider the things that bother you about your current job and assess whether changing jobs would fix those problems. Are you unhappy in the industry or in your specific role? How much does the workplace culture affect your happiness?
Think about what you would do if all options were open to you, and then make a list of the qualifications you have to support that goal. What might you need to do or learn in order to be better qualified?
True progress only comes when you know clearly where you want to go.
Become a Star Employee
Even if you know that you are going to leave your current job, don’t show your cards right away. You can leverage that job to better position yourself for the move.
Throw yourself into the work with renewed passion and seek to take on new responsibilities. Put more energy into professional networking. Take advantage of opportunities for continuing education that is sponsored by your employer.
As you build up your professional reputation, keep a file of positive performance reviews and recommendations from colleagues. Maintain an ongoing list of the tangible ways in which your work has enriched the business. Any potential employer is going to appreciate having access to such a clear-cut case for your hire.
Learn the Industry
If you are thinking about changing industries, make sure you know everything there is to know about your future career. It’s important to know, first and foremost, if this is an industry that is likely to thrive over the coming years.
Your research can also help you pinpoint careers that may be facing labor shortages – preparing for a job with plenty of openings can feel less risky. Potential industries to explore include education, healthcare, business and professional services, government jobs, and finance.
All of your research will pay huge dividends when you are interviewing with a potential new employer. When you demonstrate expertise in the industry, your skills will be in high demand.
Stick to the Plan
Before making any major moves, it is important to have a written plan that details steps to take on the road to your new career. Whether you are looking to stay within your chosen industry, change industries all together, or evolve your current job, a concrete plan is critical to success.
Following are a few of the items that might appear on your list:
- Take part in continuing education to earn relevant certifications
- Update my resume for the role of my dreams
- Target specific employers in my chosen niche
- Find a way to log some volunteer hours in my chosen niche
- Make professional contacts that can share real world info about the industry
- Look for ways to grow in my current job and pitch them to my boss
Your list will be unique to your overall career goal and will provide a blueprint for progression toward the job you really want.
Find a Mentor
We have talked about the importance of professional networking when it comes to shaking up your career, but more than that, it’s great to find a mentor who will be there with you through the whole process.
The road ahead could be long and fraught with challenges. You may need motivation and reassurance to keep moving through the hardest parts. You will appreciate a fresh perspective to help direct your efforts.
An excellent mentor is someone with more experience than you who has a genuine desire to nurture the next generation of employees in their field. Consider as you seek out your mentor that you could in turn serve as a mentor to someone else. It’s a skill that can only help you succeed.
Don’t resign yourself to a life of drudgery and boredom – take the leap and shake up your career. It doesn’t mean quitting your job right away, but rather launching a carefully considered plan of action. You may be surprised by how much more motivated and invigorated you feel once you start taking steps toward a better future.