There comes a time in every career when you need to make a change. You need more challenges. You need a new manager or company. You need something different that will allow you to continue to grow and thrive. In the midst of this, you can often feel that you need to take some dramatic action. You need to quit your job, go back to school, move to a different city or country, divorce your spouse, go off the grid. The truth is, though, that while dramatic actions may seem the best way to jumpstart your career, it is the small, individual actions you take every day that bring the most change. Dramatic actions change your life for the moment. Small actions change your life for a lifetime.
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I know, we can get so angry, so fed up, so depressed at times that we simply want to chuck it all. We want that great “take this job and shove it” moment with dramatic music playing as we stalk out of the office. As good as it might feel to dream about this, the reality is much different. True change comes from careful preparation and small steps that pave the path towards a new career. Sure, you might still have a dramatic exit at the end, but you will secure in the knowledge that you aren’t jumping into the unknown. You will know exactly where you are headed.
The goal in any career change is to move onto something better, not just something different. This change should be the next step on your career path, not a blind leap into the abyss. In that regard, here are 2 ways you start your journey to a new career.
Discover what you truly WANT to do
Too many of us have ended up in jobs and careers simply out of convenience rather choice. We took the first job available, which led to the next and then the next. Part of your need for dramatic change can be driven by this. It often means you are “waking up” to where you are in your career, but have no idea how you arrived there. Now you need to do some hard thinking about where you want to be and what you want to do. Attempt dramatic change without a clear understanding of this and you are risking both your career and your happiness.
Not only is this a process of learning more about the work you would like to do, but also a process of learning more about yourself. In our work, we can be so continuously focused outward that we forget how important it can be to look inside and discover new things about ourselves.
For more on discovering what you want to do, see my Kindle ebook, Career Compass: Finding Your Career North. It can be purchased and read on any device, not just Kindle.
Take a small action every day
Once you have some idea where you might want to go in your career, start taking small steps towards that goal. What do you need to know about the new job or career? What do you need to learn? Who do you need to contact? Where do you look for more information? Create a list of small steps and then work on one each day. These small, yet constant, actions will start to yield results almost instantly. You may find that you aren’t as interested in a particular job or career as much as you though. You might find an entirely different career during your research. Sometimes serendipity strikes and leads us down a path we might never have imagined.
I think you will find that taking these small steps will convince you that you don’t need to take some spontaneous, dramatic action you might regret later. Rather, you’ll start seeing progress from the first day and this can help to lighten the burden of your current job or career. Sure, it can’t make you happier to deal with bad clients, managers or policies, but it can help lighten the effect they have on you. Once you know you are moving on — and taking action to do so — life gets just a little bit lighter.
The next time you are thinking about quitting your job or scuttling your entire career, use that feeling as a clear sign that you need to start taking small, daily actions to build the career you deserve. While it might feel good in the moment, dramatic actions often come with a severe hangover the next day. I say, imbibe moderately in your career adventures and take small actions towards a larger goal. Not only will your current work seem easier, your future will look much brighter each morning.