fork-in-the-road-2-pathsAre you happy with your career?  Are you working or have you been laid off?

I’m hear from more and more people as they examine their career future.  I’ve heard from those that wonder if they should stay in their current position or current company.  I hear from those who have been part of a recent layoff and are now deciding whether to stick with their career choice or try something new.  I also hear from people who were ready to retire but are rethinking that decision and wondering how to proceed.  And of course, there are recent college graduates who are finding it difficult to find work in the major they chose.  They too are examining career options for the future.

What is the right approach to identify the next step in your career path? The best way to see where you’re going is to look back where you’ve been.  I know I personally run at 100 m.p.h. most of the time and it is rare that I slow down and appreciate where I’ve been and how far I’ve come.

Think back to when you first chose your career.  How did you decide what you wanted to do with your life?  Many people chose something they could be passionate about.  Even though it’s just a job, a means to an end, it’s was much more meaningful if you chose a career you were excited about.  As you look to the future, you should examine the steps you walked and what you learned so that you can use that knowledge to guide you to a new career.

  • Roles- What were the first roles you had in your career? Whether you were an intern, an apprentice, a generalist, a support staff, etc. the lessons learned during the early days of your career were very valuable.  It taught you how to interact with others.  It taught you about managing up.  About learning what the expectations were and how to exceed them.  It taught you about getting along with colleagues and how to fit in to the culture.  You were most likely a “do’er” during this time.  Absorbing everything new like a sponge.  As you explore career options, try to capture the enthusiasm of your youth when learning about the new career.  Be willing to be a “do’er” again.  Ask as many questions as you can.
  • Key influencers- Who were the people you looked up to when you first chose your career path? Were they instructors?  Neighbors?  Maybe a family member.  Bottom line is you found people you respected and decided you wanted to emulate them.  What steps did they take to pursue that particular career?  What special skills or education were needed to get the job?  Look around.  Who can help and influence you in your new career?  Use social media to meet professionals in your new field or industry.  Reach out.  Be open.  Learn from the “experts”.
  • Take aways- So what does this mean to you now? Is there a career you’ve always dreamed of having?  What are the steps you will need to take to embark on that career?  Is it an achievable goal?  Will you need more education?  A certification?  Will you need experience?

Deciding to journey down a new career path is a daunting decision; however, it can be even more rewarding than can be imagined. Have you ever taken a major turn in your career path?  What steps did you take that helped you select that career and get acclimated?  Share with us in the comments.