How To Change Career Direction and Do Work That You Love

How To Change Career Direction and Do Work That You Love

Let’s explore together how you can change career direction by asking yourself these 3 essential questions. 

Not so long ago, the perception of what makes a great career concerned getting into the professions and steadily rising through the ranks as a specialist in your area. Parents worked hard to enable their children to study and become managers, lawyers, doctors and engineers. But the world of work is changing and with it our aspirations for our working lives. There are three key factors influencing this shift.

Element 1: Technology has transformed our working lives by making it possible to work from anywhere and be part of a virtual team.

Element 2: The death of ‘the job for life’. Businesses are increasingly offering fixed term contract roles over permanent ones, cutting down on their staffing costs and working in a more project-based fashion.

Element 3: Our own aspirations have changed. We are less concerned with status and more interested in fulfilment, meaning and purpose.

With this in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself when exploring your career direction options.

Where do I want to be and how do I want to spend my time?

Online, face to face, with groups, one to one or on my own? Outdoors or in? What is my dream work location? In an ideal world, when we make a change in our career direction, we do it to move us closer to the work we enjoy.

A happy working life arises when we use our skills to address an area of interest and do so in the right environment.

In my work coaching graduates, I’ve recently been working with sports science students. They all share a passion for sport, but where and how they want to utilize this passion varies greatly.

Some want to be outdoors, coaching athletes or sports teams. Others want to be in the lab, unlocking the secrets of exceptional performance. Still, others want to be academics or to work for a funding body giving grants or developing policy.

The environment is essential when you think about changing your career direction.

An energetic coach is going to feel very stifled in a funding agency office. And a bio-engineering scientist is going to feel quite out of place training a teenage football team. Investigating what environments work best for you can help you avoid ‘square peg in round hole’ syndrome.

Here’s an exercise to help you find your ideal environment: 

Spend five minutes brainstorming the times in your life when you felt most alive or joyful.

Now, look at the qualities of that experience. Where were you? Who were you with? What skills were you using?

Now consider, what could I do to bring my work more into line with these experiences? 

To give you some inspiration, one of my clients has always felt very alive and relaxed on exotic beaches. So she has recently relocated herself to Bali and taken her personal stylist business with her. Our global connectivity makes all sorts of options possible that would have been inconceivable even ten years ago.

What is the life experience that I am looking for?

What are the feelings I want to have about my work and the balance of activities/priorities in my life?

Often in life, we tend to focus on ‘naming’ what we want. We feel we should know the name of our ideal job role or be able to specify where we will be in five years time. I think there is a step that precedes these kinds of decisions. Before setting a goal for a shift in your career direction, how about looking at what experience you are looking for.

For example, you might long to travel. You might be someone who craves variety. Or maybe you want a challenge, to learn something new, to be recognized for your hard work.

Once we know what we want to experience, it makes it much easier to be clear about the kinds of research or activity we will need to perform to create that experience for ourselves. If someone comes to see me and tells me they want to be a doctor but has been rejected from medical school, I would check out with them what it is that they want to experience as a result. Perhaps it is serving others, perhaps economic security, perhaps the opportunity to understand the human body.

Once we understand what experience we seek we can become more open to the variety of choices that could get us there. We can also start to ask the right questions of ourselves and potential new employers before we take the plunge.

What really matters to me?

What would I want to leave as my legacy? How can I share my passion with others?

There is nothing that gets one out of bed more joyfully than feeling we are doing something that matters.

Work that you love is work you bring your heart and soul to. You are able to do this because it involves activities that you care about, that interest you and make sense to you. More and more, we can recognize what tremendous opportunities and freedom we have. As we do so, it can feel really pressing to be confident that what we are doing has meaning and purpose.

We all create our own sense of meaning.

To begin to explore this question, I invite my clients to imagine they are overhearing the conversations that take place at their funeral.

What would you most like to hear said about you? Who do you want to have been to others?

Another way to inspire yourself and access your inner wisdom is to write a letter from yourself at 80 to yourself right now. What would your advice be about life and how to thrive?

Every day affords us a chance to practice sharing our passions with others. Ask yourself, what is it that you cannot stop doing? Perhaps you are always connecting people to one another, finding out new information about a hobby or interest area, stretching for your next health goal?

Start to notice what behaviours you find most uplifting and start doing more of them. This simple action will create more joy and purpose, whilst also helping you to focus on discovering how to turn what you love to do into your daily bread.

If you are ready to find your career direction and do the work that you love, then drop me a line.

Don’t go away just yet, there is more for you to read 🙂 Check out some related blog posts:

> 10 signs that you need a career change

> The What, Why and How of Your Career Plan

> Top 8 Career Ideas for Mums (from a career coach perspective)

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