Recently I came across this question in my e-mail: How do I change my perception of my ability to make a positive career change in the face of continued disappointments?
Here are a few questions to create a context for exploration.
(1) What are some common elements among all your diverse jobs and careers?
If you’re changing jobs within the same field, you might be in the wrong career. Nothing you do will make a difference till you bite the bullet.
If you’ve tried different fields, are all your jobs situated in indoor offices where you are chained to a desk? Or do you have to arrive at the office for 7 AM meetings (and you’re an evening person)?
And let’s get real. Some fields tend to favor people of a certain background, education, personality, and/or style. You have to decide if you want to beat the odds.
(2) What is your career brand?
Are you a first round draft choice or a walk-on? Researchers have found that first round picks tend to stay with their teams longer than other players who perform as well or better. Sometimes a walk-on can become a big star (like WNBA’s Becky Hammon) but your brand can be established early: rising star, loose cannon, high-potential, or misfit.
(3) Are you bucking a trend?
Career fields have rules that can be quite informal but rigid. Maybe you need to get your ticket punched by working in a specific company for two years. Or you need a certain degree or certificate.
(4) Are you someone who doesn’t fit in the corporate or academic world?
Years ago becoming self-employed was lonely and treacherous. It’s still not for the faint of heart, but you have a lot more support in the form of coaches and classes. Go slow and recognize that fitting your square peg self into a corporate round hole can be costly, too.
(5) Are you being realistic about your career goals?
Often a client will call to share a major challenge they’re experiencing at work. And often I respond, “You know, just about everyone I know has that problem.”
Other clients say, “I want a career with short hours, low stress and a six-figure income.” This combination is possible but it’s quite rare.