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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Career Change: Feeling queasy about changing? 5 ways to confirm you’ve made the right decision

You made a decision to change careers but you're feeling REALLY uneasy. You can't tell if you're coming down with the flu or if that sinking feeling is your decision. Big decisions are always kind of gut wrenching but there are some things you can do to test your situation.

  1. Did you make this decision for the right reasons? Making a career decision is a big life changer and it requires some quality think time from you. If you have made this decision quickly because you had a fight with the boss or got a bad assignment, you do want to slow things down and think through the situation. We all have work we don't always love to do every day. We all have days that you can't stand the boss. Of course you don't want to do something you hate or work with bad people but the question(s) is: How long is this situation apt to continue? Can you work on your relationships? What can you do to make this better? If you have made the decision in haste put the actions on hold. Pick a point out in the future to revisit the decision. Allow time to present the potential of improvement. If it doesn't, then move on.
  2. Transitions always have a level of anxiety. Even when we have wonderful things like marriage, there is still transition that goes with it. Like it or not in those quiet moments with ourselves we all question our decisions. It's not unusual to feel some concern about your career decision. The way to sort through this is to use some cold, cool logic. Sit down with your concerns and list them out. Examine them for reality. Do you have "what if" issues? Fine, build a solution for your various "what-ifs". Once you have listed your issues you will need to problem solve and possibly do some research. Go find the answers to your issues. My observation is that sometimes we do have true concerns but don't do anything to address them. We tend to just pile the issues up like fire wood.
  3. Circumstances have forced a career change. If you have become unemployed and are using this time to change careers, I say: Go for it! It doesn't mean you are off the hook for doing your due diligence for researching your options. You always have to do your research work when making a career change. You can't go to a catalogue and point to a new career; it requires self examination and work. If you're unemployed, it's an opportunity.
  4. You might not be done with your previous career. I believe every career has a cycle:
    1. First cycle: you are in growth mode
    2. Second cycle: you hit a career high point
    3. Third cycle: you are in decline

    If you're in stage two, you probably need to continue in that career until you have hit stage three. If this is your situation you have a good reason to push back on the decision. The work still holds some juice for you and you have more contributions to make. To leave it prematurely will be leaving something undone in your life.

  5. What if I hate the work? I'm giving this "what if" question its own focus. I think one of the biggest concerns people have with changing careers is the unknown. The biggest unknown is the work itself. All the other unknowns might be: - not knowing if you will like the boss, the environment and a list of many new things you will face. There are two ways to answer this question. 1: If you have done your homework on your career selection you should have knowledge about the nature of the work and its appeal to your values. If you have done that work and are solid about that aspect then 2: get over yourself. You're starting to sound like a kid whose parents are about to move. Of course there are unknowns. Everything will be different and you will adjust. Attitude is the most important quality you can have when making a big career change.

The bottom-line to this situation is that if you have done your work to make this decision, then most likely you are facing some natural transition reactions. If they are transition reactions then they will pass. You can sort through them to help the process along and while doing that look at what you're doing as an adventure.