you're ready for a career change, but don't know where to begin. Here
are five steps to get you thinking creatively and laterally about
your new direction.
1. When are you at your best?
Although Jill enjoys working in retail sales, she wants a career
with a more stable income. Jillís boss constantly praises her time
management skills and says she sets a great example for the team.
Jill was asked to teach what she knew to the group. Jill consistently
receives praise for mentoring new employees. Other sales people
often come to her for advice, and ask to work with Jill to learn
more from her. When someone pointed out her natural flair for teaching
and leading by example, Jill became interested in a new career in
To discover when you are at your best, brainstorm a list of activities
that bring out the best in you. Questions to ask yourself are:
- What am I doing when I lose track of time?
- What would I do with my time if I won the lottery?
- What efforts bring me the most praise and encouragement from
- When have I accomplished a challenging task without it feeling
like hard work?
- What activities can I get so immersed in that I stop worrying
Write your ideas down, and make it a long list! Notice whether
there are any repeated themes or categories that can be grouped
2. What opportunities fascinate you?
While we all want to do what we love, the money doesnít necessarily
follow. In this next list, you will brainstorm emerging trends,
industry changes and opportunities that may open the way to a lucrative
career. Whether itís global warming, the growing need for health
care workers, reality television, or rebuilding Iraq, there is potential
for opportunity in every trend. Ask yourself:
- Which future trends am I most curious about?
- What types of news stories grab my attention?
- What current events keep me glued to the radio or television?
- What newspapers, web sites or sources of information do I go
back to most often?
- Of my role models, who are the ones making news right now, and
Keep listing until you have dozens of ideas, and donít judge any
of them yet. Any trend could potentially lead to a career opportunity.
In the San Francisco Bay Area following the dot com crash, auction
sales of used office furniture increased dramatically, along with
mortgage refinancing, and demand for moving vans. Donít just look
for booming industries, as there are opportunities when growth slows
and industries decline.
Jill noticed she was fascinated by news stories and articles about
psychology, motivation and leadership, and added them to her opportunities
Combine your two lists onto one piece of paper in two separate columns.
Look over the lists and take note of any interesting synergies between
them. Notice any new ideas that pop.
For example when Todd, a Building Inspector, compared his two lists,
he noticed he was at his best doing detailed analytical work, and
his greatest fascination lay with all things aquatic. He was reminded
of a trip to an aquarium where he was drawn into a long conversation
with a biologist who was collecting and analyzing water samples.
4. Compare and Contrast
Add a third column. Brainstorm possible careers where your talents
intersect with your interests, and write them in this column.
In his third column Todd wrote:
Marine biologist, researcher for whale-watch tours, weather
reporting for mariners and divers, admin for a boat club, managing
a library database in a seaside town.
The final step is to narrow down the list and make a choice. Look
for those ideas that are both achievable, and will provide you with
a satisfying, fulfilling new career. What steps would you need to
take to get there?
Todd decided to take a part time job managing the membership database
at a yacht club while he returned to school to study marine biology.
Jill decided she would like to become a Leadership Trainer. She
offered to design and teach a new curriculum for new sales associates,
and joined a professional organization to network with other trainers.
Are you reaching your full potential?
Jo Miller is a business, personal and executive coach with five
years of global coaching experience. Jo can help you turn your biggest
dreams or challenges into realistic goals, then help you get from
where you are now to where you want to be.
For more information about Jo or to try a complimentary coaching
session, visit www.jomiller.net.
This article has be reprinted with permission from CareerBuilder.com.