There comes a point in all our lives where we seek answers to the deeper questions – “Who am I?”, “What is my purpose?”, “How do I know if I’m making the right choices?”, “What do I want from life?” etc. And for a long time, I was unknowingly looking for these answers externally. I’d look at people I admire for inspiration, listen to the guidance of others, or affirm my life choices based on the validation of those around me.
Although feedback or advice from the people closest to you is important, it isn’t always useful if you are pursuing something which they cannot relate to because it isn’t reflective of their own journey or career path. Validation from others won’t help you to understand yourself on a deeper level. If anything, it can be counterproductive and push you further from discovering your truth. Perhaps you’ve been making choices about your own life based on other people’s expectations of you and find yourself becoming unfulfilled or resentful.
Acknowledging it’s time for a career change is daunting, often leaving you with conflicting thoughts on whether you’re making the right decision. There is always an element of risk to the unknown and any doubts you have within yourself may be amplified by those around you. For example, when I left my full-time corporate job to get my degree in an unrelated, creative subject, there was certainly scepticism and pushback from those closest to me. Initially I found this frustrating, yet I understood their views originated from a place of fear – Fear that I was pursuing a different path to the one they had pictured for me. Fear that I wouldn’t be financially prosperous from this decision. Perhaps even fear that they would no longer be able to provide guidance or relate to me due to the lack of familiarity to my chosen path, however those same people now express pride in my achievements.
Many people know they’re unhappy in their job but aren’t sure what to do about it. Below are my key points to identify before taking the plunge.
What got you into this situation in the first place?
Maybe you took a job you had no interest in to pay the bills and found yourself stuck there wondering where the years went. Maybe you were told at some point you wouldn’t amount to anything better, creating limiting internalised beliefs about your own abilities. Perhaps the effects of an unmanaged mental health issue or disability has unfairly limited your options and you’ve been lacking sufficient support systems to overcome this barrier. Perhaps you’re an immigrant who has learnt the hard way that the country you now call home does not treat you with the respect you deserve.
Make a list identifying the reasons you are at this point so you can identify early on any self-sabotaging thoughts that you may use to talk yourself out of taking the plunge. Remember, adversities make us resilient when faced with new challenges and these negative experiences do not define us.
Which of these barriers are still present?
Does this situation that got you here still apply? If so, what elements of these same barriers are still in place? Take time to consider what has changed and what else needs to change. For example, if it’s financial concerns, start by working out a budget with your current salary identifying where cutbacks can be made, followed by your minimum figure/salary for potential new employers. What has changed might be the length of time remaining for these financial commitments e.g 6 months left of your tenancy agreement or finance payments. Then set a timeline in which you aim to make the necessary adjustments to your situation with a positive mindset. Working toward something with intention and resolving problems in the form of achieving micro-goals will already begin to make you feel better.
Recognising barriers that have previously held you back does not mean they’re worthy of all your energy. Focusing too much on them will only amplify their significance because your reality is governed by your perception. Simply use them to identify areas for growth. Let them motivate you to take the next steps in your pursuit of growth and happiness.
Tune in and seek out your passions
If you have no idea of what you want to do, first consider what it is you enjoy. What makes you feel good or what made you happy in the past? It could be that you find satisfaction in building or creating something, or maybe you just get a sense of satisfaction from helping others. Explore new things, revisit old hobbies, staying mindful of what makes you feel good and what doesn’t.
You may have had something that has always called to you, yet you never considered it a viable career option. Only you know what makes you happy and sparks joy, motivation, and excitement. If it’s multiple things, write them down and explore them individually or be innovative and consider how you could bring multiple talents or interests together.
Be clear about what you want
Without knowing exactly what you want, how can you create or become it? So many people place limitations on themselves to be ‘safe’ or ‘realistic’ which subsequently limit their achievements and earning potentials. If you want to be a billionaire, live in LA, drive a Bugatti, then go after it. You’ll just have to figure out viable ways to achieve this.
The higher you set the bar for yourself, the more you are likely to achieve in the long run. Use visualisation techniques and vision boards to keep you motivated – Many successful entrepreneurs and celebrities swear by these methods.
Research, research, research!
Whether it’s finding new ways to overcome some of the challenges that have held you back or gaining a deeper understanding of what skills or qualifications are required to do the job you want, research is key. Knowledge is invaluable and the research stage is crucial. There may be something you initially find intriguing but after doing your research, find the dynamics of the job are quite different to what you originally anticipated. Ensuring you have a realistic expectation of what is required of you in any field will help you understand what you need to do next.
Putting in the Work
Now you’ve prepared yourself by identifying barriers, defining what you want to achieve and begun making the actions required to get you there, take action. Make a list of short-term plans (achievable in the next 1 – 3 months), mid-term plans (6 – 12 Months) and long-term plans (3 – 5 years). Work towards your achievements with specific daily or weekly micro-goals.
The hardest part is often showing up and putting the work in. Self-discipline is like a muscle – The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes.
Changing direction at any point in life is difficult. Our brains become hardwired to follow the same thinking patterns and behaviours day in day out. Making adjustments to the ‘norm’ is going to feel unsettling, however taking a leap of faith can pay off if you approach it in a smart way with an intentionally thought-out plan. I know for a fact I would rather die than keep myself in a position where mediocracy and mundanity become my life for the unforeseeable future. If we are living in a way that merely feels like existing, shouldn’t we ask ourselves if we are even living at all?
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