Welcome to January – a time of resolutions, new plans and change! More so than in other months, you might be experiencing motivation (or just pressure) to wipe the slate clean and forge a new path.
For some, that means a career change and the necessary work to make it happen. If you’re unhappy with your current path, then by all means, plan a change. Before you get into planning, though, ask yourself how fresh a start you need.
A sub-question to help determine how big a change to make is this: What’s making you unhappy about your current work or career plan? Get specific. Write your answers down, and for each answer, ask yourself “Why?” There’s no point in launching a new career if what you really want is a shorter commute or a different manager. You can save yourself the effort and still reach your goal of greater career happiness.
Another sub-question to ask is: In what ways isn’t this a fresh start? As much as I’m in favour of making a change for the better, fresh starts often take persistence and sweat. The work required can be less daunting if you’re aware of the continuities you can draw on between where you are now and where you want to go. (They also help you make a more compelling argument to employers about why they should hire you.)
Don’t stop with the points in common that first come to mind. Ask people who know you well for their observations; that’ll help identify strengths you might not even notice you have. Talk with people doing the kind of work you want to do, to help you spot the less obvious points of connection between their work and yours.
Keep track of those continuities. Put them in your LinkedIn profile. Add them to your master resumé. List them on your phone’s lockscreen for a regular boost. Whatever change you’re aiming for – whether it’s a radical shift or a nuanced adjustment – remind yourself of the strengths you’re building on.