Does this sound familiar? You wake up each morning with the dread of the work day ahead. You feel uninspired, unfulfilled and/or unhappy in your current position and want something more. You’re simply aching to work with purpose or in your purpose. If this is your story, know that you’re not alone. Many of careerists have been or are in a place in their professional lives where they’ve thought or even said aloud, “there has to be more than this.” Instead of being proactive, though, they wallow in their vocational misery. The good news is that you can serve as the captain of your destiny and write your career success story. Designing your desired career path is the very essence of what career reinvention is all about.
If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired in your career, follow these six steps to career reinvention:
- Think Before You Reinvent. Your desire for a career overhaul should not be a snap decision. Start by asking yourself: is this really what I want? Determine if you truly want to take your career in a different direction or if you’re simply suffering from a boredom spell at work. You might simply be in a rut that can be cured with a much simpler solution (i.e. professional development, taking on more responsibility, seeking promotion) than creating a whole new career path.
- Determine What Your Dream Career Looks Like. If you determine that your decision to professionally reinvent goes beyond the typical workplace tedium, ponder these questions: what would you do even if you were never paid to do it? What do you find yourself so enthralled by that you don’t even notice the hours passing by? Look back on your life and hone in on the activities and hobbies that you find yourself getting lost in, those things that bring you happiness and joy. One of those things may be the key to your ideal career path. In addition to introspection, ask your friends and family what they think you’re good at. They may be able to shed some light on some obvious things you’ve never even thought of or considered as your best career option.
- Test the Waters. If you’re not quite sure you’re completely ready to commit to your new career path, try it out. Volunteer your time doing what you love to do. Take it on part-time as a freelancer or independent contractor to see how it feels to work in your passion. Testing the waters will either show you that your hobby should remain a hobby or will serve as further confirmation that this is what you were made to do professionally.
- Sharpen Your Tools and Build Your Credentials. After some exploration, make sure you have the necessary background and skills to successfully take it on. If not, sharpen your tools before proceeding. Attend professional development workshops and seminars, take relevant courses, and obtain appropriate certifications so that potential customers or clients will take you seriously and trust that you have the required know-how to get the job done.
- Brand Yourself. Ok … so you’ve decided that this is, without a doubt, your calling. It’s time to establish your new brand. Your personal or professional brand lets people know who you are and what you do. Carefully craft a plan for establishing your professional presence, and be vigilant about maintaining it.
- Network. With your brand new you intact, it’s time to network your heart out. In order for people to know who you are and what you do, you have to put yourself out there. Start by making your friends and family aware of your career change. You never know who the people in your circle know and you can make some vital connections this way. Move outside your personal circles as well, and actively grow your network. Some great ways to make connections include:
- Professional association membership (related to your desired career)
- Attending conferences and seminars, local networking events and webinars
- Joining and actively participating in LinkedIn groups, Google+ communities, and Twitter Tweet chats
With the crucial foundation laid, it’s time to dive in and show ‘em what you’re made of! Remember, though, career reinvention is a process; it won’t just happen overnight. There’s no magic formula to make it happen, and just as with anything else, what you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. Do you want to be the person who only dreams about her ideal career or become the woman who’s living out her career dreams? Ultimately, the choice is yours.
Have you thought or are you thinking about a career reinvention? If so, what’s stopping you?