Reassess Your Career for the New Year
As the end of the year comes around, many people decide to reassess their careers. It’s a good time for reflection, especially once the Christmas partying is over and the prospect of going back to work on 2 Jan looms.
Do you reach the beginning of a new year with the intention of making a career change, only to find 12 months later that you are still in the same place?
Life seems to be getting busier and busier and there never seems time to sit down and really think about taking the action needed to find a new job. Unless of course, you have had the misfortune of losing your job and have to find another one. And then it can be a case of having to take what you can get to pay the bills.
None of this is made any easier by the state of the economy. You might be thinking of a career change, but feel it’s better to stay where you are.
So if you don’t feel happy in your current job what can you do? Try thinking about where you would like to be in 5 or 10 years’ time. There is a strong likelihood that you don’t want to be where you are now! Start off by using your imagination and coming up with an ideal scenario, no matter how far removed from reality it may seem. Write a detailed description of your ideal life and your ideal work situation, even if there isn’t a job title to fit it.
Start with a broad picture, for example, you might write that you want to work in a specific location – in the mountains, by the sea, in a big city, in another country. You could also decide that you want to paint, write, work with people, cook, be involved with sports or have your own business.
Once you have a general idea, get more specific. How would a typical day in your life be? Or would there be no typical days, with something new and different happening all the time?
Which skills would you use? Which new ones would you learn? What have you done in past jobs that you really loved? Who do you envy because of their job and why? What did you want to be when you were a kid? Did you take the safe option when you left college, ignoring a dream which no-one believed you could fulfil?
By the time you have finished writing, you will probably have reached the conclusion that your ideal job doesn’t exist and that’s likely to be true. But these days it isn’t really helpful thinking in terms of jobs or careers. A better approach would be to think of activities which bring in money.
This isn’t a new idea, although it still hasn’t really caught on. Back in 1997, when I trained as a careers advisor, I read Jobshift by William Bridges, in which the author discusses running “You & Co” or “You Inc” as a business. Around the same time, Charles Handy was writing about Portfolio Careers, which are much the same thing – a mixture of employment and self-employment, often in very different fields and which add up to an individual’s “career”.
I meet a friend for coffee a couple of weeks ago – we had worked together in the past as careers advisors and it seems that the job of careers advisor no longer exists, at least in the UK. Ironic, at a time when more and more people could do with careers advice. Of course, as with the disappearance of many other jobs, this does open the door for independent advisors.
Reassess Your Career for 2012
The reality in 2012 is that we need to take a completely new approach to work. For most of us, it’s not only hard to come by, but it’s also going to be part of our lives for much longer than we had anticipated. This means that we have no choice but to be creative about how we earn the money we need to survive and thrive in the world. And we need to work out how to do this in spite of the economic chaos which surrounds us.
Career Change Has Changed
There is a very positive side to this – the changes in society and technology have also provided opportunities that just didn’t exist 50 years ago. The internet has opened up options for people from all sorts of different backgrounds. You can set up a business which has nothing to do with technology – selling your home made jewellery or candles or dog-sitting for example – and use technology to grow the business. If you have a lot of dog-related skills, you could even find yourself in demand and jetting off to look after the pampered pooches of the very wealthy because you have built up a reputation on the internet.
Or if you do want a more traditional job, you can become active on LinkedIn, and you might find yourself headhunted because of certain skills you have developed while out of work. Who knows what could happen.
And you don’t even have to go to work these days. Even employees in certain companies get to work at home, communicating with bosses, co-workers and clients over the internet and by phone. This means that you can work for an overseas company without leaving your hometown or live in the remote highlands while working for a company in a big city.
The first step towards career change is to have an open mind. Then you should assess yourself – your skills, your abilities and desires, your personality. Today there is no standard way in which to get a job and although the old methods still work in some circumstances, it’s time to look at things differently.