Five tips to doing a 180 with your career

 In Career Change, Stress

As a career coach I am often asked the question—how do I go about making a total and complete change in my career?

This is a tough question because there is no “secret formula” for doing a 180 in your career. Like all important moves in life—it’s a process.

Here are five tips that might help clarify a direction for you if you are really ready to do something completely different in your career.

  1. Don’t make the decision from a place of stress:

    If you are seriously unhappy in your work and the direction of your life, chances are there is some stress there—more than you might think. While it may seem like everything will be better once you stop doing that job, it might actually be your brain tricking you. In times of great stress, not only do we see things differently, but we actually see different things. Stress activates the amygdala region of the brain, which is programmed for survival and scanning for danger. This is not ideal for being able to see new opportunities, or being solution-oriented or hopeful about life. The thing about stress is that it actually changes who we are. You will want to deal with that stress before making any big decisions—not the other way around.

  2. Don’t be so quick to take a pay cut:

    Willingness to take a pay cut is likely coming from a place of stress as well. Taking a 50% or more pay cut is going to wear thin very quickly. Try to focus on the goal of keeping your earnings consistent in your new venture or industry, or maybe 10-15% less at the max. Sure, sometimes you will have to take a pay cut to switch industries, or go without income to start a new business, but that decision should be made from a sober place of reality and willingness to invest—otherwise you are setting yourself up for a career leap which is not sustainable.

  3. Get some outside eyes on your life/work:

    Naturally, I think this would be a great time to hire a career or life coach, and that’s not all. This would also be the time to get a few therapy sessions to deal with any old baggage from your career or past; get a trainer for your fitness and nutrition; get all of your medical check-ups handled; and finally, go see your financial planner. Use this time to explore your thoughts and preferences, deal with the past, and plan for your new future—so that all the categories of your life are aligned to support your new endeavor.

  4. Look for meaning and strengths rather than your “purpose” in life:

    Most people who want to do a career 180 have lost their sense of meaning or feel burned out to a crisp, and are told that finding their purpose in life will make everything clear again. The truth is that each of us have many purposes in life; being a parent, sibling, or friend can all be purposes. The concept of purpose tends to create more stress and pressure when we are looking for answers. Focus instead on what gives you a sense of meaning. What problems do you like to solve in life or work? What do people ask you to do for them? What are your forgotten strengths?

  5. Don’t throw away your past:

    In my experience from working with people and careers and formerly as a recruiter, the most successful, gratifying and lasting career changes tend to be those that use your past experience in a new and different way. Your new career might be a 90 degree change, or maybe a 360.

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