Executive Insider

How to successfully change careers

You want to change careers, but you’re not sure how and if you do make a change, you want to make sure that it’s a positive one. As well as meeting your fundamental need for an income, your career can be enjoyable, provide for great satisfaction and can positively impact your happiness and wellbeing. The good news is, you are likely more ready and able to make a change than you think. Here’s my top 4 tips for successfully changing careers and making sure it’s positive and rewarding.

Work and Life priorities

Work and life are inextricably linked, so embarking on a career change should include building a picture of what you want from both your career and the other priorities in your life. I recommend identifying a set of ingredients that you want in key components of your life such as physical health, relationships, home, emotional wellbeing, career, finances, passions & hobbies, spirituality and community. Reflect on these as they are for you now, and then how you would like them to be in the future. This helps you create goals and also informs the career direction and decisions you make. For example, if you want to spend more time with your close relationships, then pursuing a career change that sees you working long hours consistently is likely to ultimately be unsatisfying.

Expand your options

Satisfying work can provide many benefits, such as opportunities to learn, to build relationships, enjoyment, sense of achievement, sense of belonging and an ability to contribute to something greater. Think about what you want work to be and do for you? While you may set a specific overarching career goal, there are multiple ways to achieve that outcome. Expand your options of the types of jobs or industries you can pursue. Think of it like a gold, silver or bronze medal. All are great achievements but at varying levels. For your gold version, what would ideal look like, if you could have everything you want? For silver, take it back just one step, a compromise that would still provide for a great option, and then again for the bronze version.

Strengths + Capabilities

You may already be familiar with your strengths, the things you are good at, that energise you and you find yourself drawn to activities that use them. Using and developing your strengths at work can result in greater enjoyment, better performance and provide you with more energy and vitality. When you add understanding your capabilities to your strengths this gives you your greatest leverage for change and can help you advance or completely change careers in a way that best sets you up for success. Your capabilities are your people and technical skills and your knowledge. Similar to your strengths, you are focusing on the skills and knowledge you are both good at and enjoy.

Growth 

There are not too many missteps or wrong moves from a career perspective if you are focused on what you can learn and gain in experience. Even terrible experiences can help you grow; in fact, it’s possible that we advance and grow more through challenge. In pursuing a career change think about whether you will continue to learn and grow. A satisfying career needs some challenge. If something is too easy, it will likely be boring. Therefore, regardless of whether it’s a small shift in career or a complete change, you need to learn new, or improve on existing, strengths and capabilities in order to make that change and adopt an attitude and belief that with effort you can grow.

Changing career brings variety, increases experience and learning, keeps you engaged and can have positive benefits for your happiness and wellbeing. The keys to making a positive career change are to pursue a change that works with your priorities in life, to expand your options of what will provide for a satisfying change, use the combination of both your strengths and your capabilities for your greatest leverage and focus on continual learning. You have a wealth of unique strengths and capabilities already and while it may seem like a daunting journey, starting with these four tips will see you well on your way to a successful career change.


Written by Amalia Chilianis.

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Amalia Chilianis
Amalia Chilianis, author of Work-a-holistic: A practical guide to changing your career (Publish Central $29.95), is a career and capability development expert. She is a consultant, coach, speaker and facilitator working internationally. Amalia is passionate about helping people develop and change their career to realise a better future.


Amalia Chilianis is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow Amalia on LinkedIn. For more information, visit the author’s website.