A Beginners Guide to Changing Careers

Many of us are just happy enough with our careers… Somewhere along the way, we got comfortable enough to stay put, and maybe even lost sight of our original dreams and aspirations. But, what happens when “happy enough” just isn’t enough? What do we do when our conscience calls out for something more? Or, what about those of us who have been surprised by a layoff, our job suddenly becoming outsourced, or an unwelcome change of responsibilities?

At Nxt Chptr, we know change can be difficult–especially changing careers– but change without guidance, well, that can seem like an impossible feat. You’re here, though, and that counts for something, which is why we’ve put together this healthy and approachable guide for those who want to change careers – because nothing should hold you back on road to happiness.

Pretty New Wrapper on the Same Old Chewing Gum

Ever heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”? Well, this is the same idea. Buying a new wardrobe or filling your space with new and shiny items doesn’t yield you with newfound happiness. The luster wears off just as soon as you get a taste of the same bland flavors. The point? Don’t merely look for something shiny and colorful wrapped around the new career you’re interested in. Try disqualifying the potential job by comparing it to what you’re currently doing.

Take your pet to work day, a free gym membership, maybe a discount on your phone service… sure, these all sound like things that add value to your next job title, but what are they really worth? When it comes to research done by pros in the business of careers, like GlassDoor, not much. Losing weight and shaving off a few bucks from your bills sounds great, and so does a belly rub in the middle of the day (for your fluffy canine or feline friend, of course).

But ask yourself, if my current position offered me those things first thing tomorrow, would I magically be content? So, what does it take to keep you genuinely satisfied in the long term? Only you can qualify that, but make sure you’re seeking a true change, not just a vibrant exterior that’s hiding under the same old set of responsibilities. Interested in an entirely different career path? Check out these online career quizzes that can help narrow down your focus and identify your strengths.

Put the Dream on Paper

Whether your motivation is monetary, existential, or you’re simply finishing a plan you’ve been executing for a long time now, you’ve got to believe in where you’re going. Maybe you have no plan at all, and that’s okay. The best practice for this is putting your thoughts on paper. Capture all that you can on a notepad, in a journal, on a bulk of sticky notes, or on your child’s chalkboard – the bottom line, make sure you get the good, the bad, and the ugly. According to Lanny Bassham, author of With Winning In Mind and professional athlete trainer, he won’t even take a client unless they journal. Having a good grip on your true expectations is the only sure-fire way to make sure you end up meeting as many of them as possible in new territory.

Need journaling prompts? Here are a few to get you started:

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    1. Write about your day. What did you eat? Who did you talk to? How did you feel at the end of the day?
    2. What did you do at work today? Did you enjoy your workday? What did you dislike? Was your overall feeling at the end of the day a positive or negative one?
    3. What are your hopes for this year? Imagine yourself on New Year’s Eve – what will you hope to have accomplished by then? Will changing careers get you to your goals?
    4. How are you feeling physically and mentally? How is your health? Do you see any relationships between work and these feelings/your health?
    5. What are your relationships like at home and with friends? Does work contribute in a negative or positive way?
    6. What in your life is causing stress? What steps can you take to alleviate this stress?
    7. And, do you feel both intellectually and creatively satisfied? If not, where can you add more time for expression and growth into your schedule?

Research Isn’t a Solo Act

Simply put, if you want to be a Millionaire, hang out with Billionaires. You’ve got to pick up the right healthy habits to get there. Let’s recognize that a quick Google search and a conversation with the dog isn’t exactly going to motivate you toward your goals. When you’re researching that next big step, be sure to involve those already in the industry you seek – network, network, network! Chances are by the time you’re done speaking with them, they’ll have answered valuable questions that you hadn’t even thought to ask.

Don’t know anyone in the industry? Struggle with shaking hands for the first time? Picture this: You’re busy doing something you love to do… a hobby, a talent, something it’s obvious to the world you’re passionate about. Now picture someone you don’t know asking you how you did it. We’ll bet our paychecks that you’d share more than you even realized you knew! Let’s face it, you’ve got to shake new hands at that new job anyhow, why not shake some ahead of time – ones that will get you real traction? For help getting started, this guide by The Muse has some tips to make you a little more comfortable on the networking journey.

Thrive on the Good

Keeping a momentous pace is critical in the process, and one of our core principals at Nxt Chptr – you should never be left without resources or support on your journey. As Barbara Sher, the author of Wishcraft, would say, “Isolation is the dream killer, and support is more powerful than attitude.” Naturally, not all of the experiences on your path will be positive ones, but every experience will certainly lead to growth. Even a battery runs on both positive and negative.

One of the most profound ways to ensure all your experiences are setting you up to thrive is to share them within your relationships. Dr. Henry Cloud’s research, as illustrated in his book The Power of the Other, shows that influential relationships relate to personal growth and capabilities as spinach does to Popeye. Those relationships you hold and the energy they provide are the rocket fuel that can elevate you toward your goals. This is critical to realize because not only is it relevant to landing the new career you’re striving for, but it’s essential for you to form and develop positive relationships along your new journey! AKA, surround yourself with cheerleaders who will support your efforts in changing careers.

Continuing Resources for Changing Careers

Rest assured, your transition to a new career is not the final chapter, it’s merely a place to rest your bookmark until tomorrow morning. Remembering the pages you’ve turned and how far you’ve come is crucial in the process! Relying on inspirational coaching, practicing healthy habits of success, and taking challenges head-on… these all lead to your Nxt Chptr.

Are you working toward a goal like starting a new business, growing your existing business, or changing careers entirely? Check out our Course Marketplace that’s stocked full of content by life and career coaches

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