Deciding on a career is a huge decision, one that we often make on the cusp of adulthood, before we’ve had the chance to experience all that life can offer. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut in your current job or place in life, it may be time to consider what you want out of a career—and whether it’s time to explore a career pivot.
Career pivots can be sparked by many things: a misalignment of life and work, a sudden calling for a different purpose, or the wisdom and maturity that comes with time. Though the idea of undertaking something new can be scary, it can also be exhilarating as you seek work that provides true fulfillment.
If a career change might be in your future, here’s how we suggest approaching it.
Step 1: Take Stock of Your Feelings
If you’re thinking about making a major shift, it’s important to begin by looking inward to uncover what’s prompting your change of heart.
Perhaps your chosen career field isn’t what you thought it might be. Maybe it’s never been quite right, and it’s only now that you’re admitting it to yourself.
Or perhaps you yourself have changed. We all grow and shift as we age and gain more knowledge. Life experiences—having kids, dealing with aging parents, loss, travel—can alter our priorities and offer clarity into what we most want.
For moms, flexibility and time for family may be a huge driver in the decision to change careers.
Any reasons for wanting a more fulfilling career are valid. Yet it’s important to dig deep into the core of your emotions because it will help you understand what you truly want out of a career.
Step 2: Learn What Lights You Up
A building sense of dissatisfaction over the course of your career may have taught you what you don’t want, which is helpful. A career pivot is a big move, and you’ll want to be firm on what doesn’t work with your life before embarking on a new path.
But a career pivot isn’t only about fixing what doesn’t work for you. At its heart, it’s about pursuing a passion that lights you up and gives you purpose.
Not sure where to begin? Start by taking a personality test! Understanding who you are creates a foundation for living a life that is in alignment with your wants and needs.
Here are a few resources we love:
The Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment provides insights into your strengths. Knowing what you’re naturally good at can steer you toward a career that will allow your strengths to shine.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test assesses four key areas of your personality to help you learn how to better communicate with others and understand how your personality can be an asset in your role.
Step 3: Research Career Fields That Work for You
With an understanding of your strengths and the awareness of what you’ve loved—and not loved—about your previous jobs, you’ll be ready to actively pursue your career pivot.
If you already know what you want to do—great! You’re ready to move on to step 4.
But maybe you’re not certain which way you want to go. You may be (understandably) nervous about making a bad choice. The good news is that there are no “wrong” choices, only decisions that will guide you to the path you’re meant to take.
Pairing your strengths with your preferences will deliver clarity. For example, if you’re an organized natural leader who loves working with people, project management could be an ideal career. If you have a knack for strategy and love learning what motivates people, marketing could be just the industry for you.
It’s important to think about logistical concerns as well, such as typical hours (9 to 5 vs. night shifts), expected work location (at home or in an office) and other areas of note (would you have to travel, work late, etc.?). If a certain career path aligns with your interests but also comes with caveats that wouldn’t suit your lifestyle, then it’s probably best to take it off the list.
This will be the time to decide not only what’s important to you in a career, but also what’s best for your life overall.
Step 4: Decide How to Pursue Your Goal
Set on a new career direction? Congratulations! Now, it’s time to make it happen. How much you’ll need to do will depend on how far you’re departing from your original path.
If you want to transition to something similar to what you’re already doing, you will have an easier time making a change, as many of your skills will likely be transferable. If there are qualifications you’re lacking, look into upskilling opportunities through certificates, short-term programs or individual courses.
On the other hand, if you’re doing a complete shift to a field that requires specific licensing or degrees (such as law or nursing), there will be hard work ahead of you, no doubt, but the pursuit of your dream career is well worth it.
Step 5: Network and Connect
It can be daunting to dive into something new, but the best way to navigate it will be with a support system of people who get it. While you likely built up a network of professionals and colleagues in your previous line of work, you’ll want to connect with people working in your new field, though doing so may feel like you’re starting from scratch.
These feelings are valid, but try to reframe it as an exciting opportunity for a fresh start. Search for and join communities online, whether on LinkedIn or other social networking sites. Even before you land a new job, communities like these can be valuable resources for honing your skills and improving your chances for getting hired.
Seek out a mentor who has been there, done that and ask those burning questions that may not be easily answerable on Google.
Love Your Life—and Your Job
We will spend roughly one-third of our lives at work—around 90,000 hours—so make sure those hours are spent doing something you enjoy. Above all else, remember that it’s never too late to chase your dreams.
Ready to make your next career move? We’re proud to work with companies who value employee happiness. Join our talent community to explore opportunities that make working a pleasure.