January 2014

New Year is a time for reflection.  As we anticipate the year to come, we may start to think about what we wish to change in our lives or careers.  The Christmas break may mean we return to the workplace refreshed and re-energised.  Perhaps not looking forward to the daily commute, but keen to get back to work and to tackle new challenges.

But for some of us, the thought of returning to work may be accompanied by a familiar sinking feeling.  Another year has passed and little has changed.  We are still in the same job, the same organisation or the same profession.  We may be outwardly successful…but something is missing.  We say to ourselves, ‘This year I’ll do something different.  This year it’s time for a career change.” But where to start?  Soon we are caught up in the hurly-burly of everyday work and life and, before we know it, yet another year has gone by.  So how can we ensure we act on these feelings this time around?

To help you get started I have put together a few tips and of course, some good questions.  Do let me know if you find them helpful.  In the meantime I wish you a very happy, healthy and fulfilling New Year.


1.  Explore what’s behind your desire to make a change.  Do you feel disillusioned, worn out or bored?  Have you reached a career plateau?  Are your values at odds with those demonstrated in your organisation?  Questions:

  • What is really important to you, at work and in life?
  • And what is missing at the moment?  What no longer satisfies you at work?

2.  Accept that you may find yourself on a sort of ‘spiritual’ quest – this is common in mid-life when people may find they want to make a greater contribution to society or be more connected to their inner desires.  It can be a bit of a shock to enter this space.  It can also be an exciting time as you explore hidden or undeveloped parts of yourself.  If you have always been a highly driven person you may be tempted to rush into making a decision on where to go next.  But I suggest you allow yourself to spend time in this place to work out what you really want.        Questions:

  • How have your priorities shifted?
  • If this was your last year of paid work, how would you wish to spend your time?
  • When you retire, what do you want your legacy to be?  How do you want to be remembered?

3.  Look for space to grow and develop within your current role or situation.  Whilst you are working out what you want to do, seek out opportunities offered by your employer to learn new skills or gain new experiences e.g. by attending training courses or leading projects.  You may find that these new skills or experiences enhance your confidence or stimulate new thinking about your options: Question:

  • How can you venture outside your comfort zone to learn new skills, gain new experiences or explore different roles?

4.  Use your network of social and professional contacts for help and guidance.  Use this network to find and ‘interview’ people who are already successful in the career that interests you.        Question:

  • Who do you know who has succeeded in your target career or who in your network might know someone like this?

5.  Remember further qualifications are not always the answer.  It is easy to spend a lot of time and money on courses so if you invest in further qualifications, work out the likely return on your investment.  Of course you may decide to study just for fun, but if you are investing in further qualifications as a career strategy, ensure you do your research first.         Questions:

  • Will this qualification enhance your skills or credibility in your chosen field?
  • If you are not sure – who can advise you on the most relevant qualifications?

6.  Accept that you may need to take a salary cut or lose status when switching to a new career or sector.  Be honest with yourself – if salary and status are very important to you, then a major mid-life career change may not be something to rush into. Question:

  • How important is status and money to you and are you willing to let this go?

7.  When you have decided on your career goal, do something every day to work towards it.  Make a phone call, attend a networking event, re-connect with someone, conduct some structured research or spend time reflecting and noting down your thoughts in a journal.  Question:

  • How can you spend 20 minutes each day to move towards your goal?

8.  Be prepared for setbacks, plan for the worst and then be brave.  Things may not always run smoothly.  But if you’ve done your groundwork, are clear about who you are and what is important to you, and have a good support network, you’ll survive any setbacks.  Finally it is a good idea to face up to what might go wrong if you change career.  If you can plan how you would deal with the consequences of ‘failure’ then you will be able to take away much of the fear.   If you are still up for a change, then take a deep breath, and go for it.  Questions: 

  • Who or what will keep you on track when the going gets tough?
  • What’s the worst that can happen?

And if you would like further assistance with exploring a major career change, need help with a major leadership or life transition, or would like some help with a specific issue e.g. preparing for a job interview, I would love to hear from you.  For a free informal chat about coaching mail me at [email protected] or complete the enquiry form on my website at www.pathwaycoaching.co.uk.

You might also be interested in our seminar on 10 February 2014 “Take Control of Your Career.” This seminar can also be run in-house.  It is most effective when combined with at least one individual coaching session.