- Boredom when the work gets too predictable
- Declining fulfillment from achievements
- Disenchantment with a job going no where
- Curiosity about what’s out there
- Compensation ceilings that won’t meet future needs
I’ve experienced all of these at different times. Each one caused significant stress, confusion, and frustration–sometimes all at once.
I tried to force my way through them, telling myself that they were just temporary and would pass. But, of course, they didn’t and they don’t. The only way to get beyond these bumps is to change–not our favorite thing.
It’s not about reinventing your self.
Finding your way to a different career is not about reinventing who you are. Rather, it’s about redirecting your path so you can do work that fits who you are.
In my view, unless you are severely limited by problematic behaviors, trying to remake your essential self is an exercise that keeps you from going where you need to go.
Instead, redirect yourself by aligning your capabilities, interests, and energies to a more suitable line of work.
On the surface, this may sound pretty easy, but it isn’t. Each redirection means:
- Acclimating to a different industry and/or workplace
- Forging new relationships
- Adapting to financial impacts
- Dealing with potentially negative feedback from friends and family
- Fear, self-doubt, and a new learning curve
There is, however, something exhilarating about a big change, so long as you’re ready for it. Newness, discovery, and challenge have the power to put you in high gear.
Keep options open.
This is a timely post for me since I’m getting ready to redirect my “career life” again, building on and remolding the pieces that have served me along the way.
My career unfolded like this:
Primary Career Path: Teaching ► Management ► Consulting
I love words and how they can help us deal with life. So with an undergraduate degree in English, I became a high school teacher. Over ten years in the classroom, I learned how to instruct, manage groups, handle multiple priorities, and influence change.
Eventually, I got bored by routine, frustrated by some decisions, and curious about the world outside the classroom.
I decided to learn about big business by asking to speak to managers in HR about how public education could do a better job preparing their future employees.
Those meetings gave me a comfort level with business people and led to my first job at a large electric utility. There I learned how to manage effectively and lead when the stakes were high.
I also learned how the business worked and where its weaknesses were. After 20+ years as a senior manager there, I’d achieved my goals and realized I didn’t want to go any further.
I left and started a consulting practice, an entrepreneurial venture that would have to support me. I had done some freelance consulting that prepared me for this new venture which has been ongoing since 2002.
Corollary Career Paths: Production ► Sales
I’d always had a dream to own a horse so I started taking riding lessons when I was 30. Eventually I bought and boarded two horses. I wanted to care for them myself, so I bought a small farm that needed plenty of work, all of which was new to me.
Before I knew it, I was breeding horses (production) for the race track and the show ring. This was an entirely new and foreign industry for me which fulfilled my curiosity, challenged me intellectually, and increased my fulfillment for almost 20 years.
Concurrently, my horse enterprise led to ownership for ten years of an equestrian art gallery, where I learned about retail sales. This rounded out my business resume.
Together, all of these efforts to redirect my career have created a range of experiences I continue to draw on. Fortunately, careers don’t have to come to an end.
Career management is our job. It takes introspection and exploration, a good bit of courage and some luck. As our careers evolve, we evolve with them, learning what really floats our boat and what doesn’t.
I still have my original love of words, that’s why I blog. I love the quiet beauty of my farm where I can think and unearth new perspectives free from distraction. I am seeking to uncover how I will redirect again. Ideas come to mind and then fade into others. The same will happen for you until the right answer appears. Let’s continue to keep our options open. I’ll keep you posted on my progress and hope you will do the same.
What’s in your mind right now about how you might redirect your career? What challenges do you face? Sometimes writing it down makes it clearer. I’d love to hear from you.