There is no single catalyst
for a career change.
Sometimes an event such as losing a job, hitting a career
stalemate or realizing that a chosen professional path is
all wrong for you, can send someone soul-searching. Or the
trigger can be personal: A relationship dissolves, or maybe
there's no relationship to lean on at all. The end result,
however, is similar: People are pulled apart, little by
little, and pretty soon they feel like there’s nothing left.
Whether you're employed or unemployed, the basic question
you always have to ask yourself about your current or most
recent job is, "Is this really what I want to do for the
rest of my life?" The answer often is "NO" for millions of
people and maybe for you, too. This doesn't necessarily mean
that you made a big mistake in taking your current job,
though that happens often enough.
But even if it was a good choice, it’s common for jobs to
change profoundly in a short period of time. You are given
new responsibilities without any raise in salary, or your
much-beloved supervisor moves on, leaving you working for a
jerk. Or your workplace comes under stringent budget cuts
and you can't do half the things you used to be able to do.
The job that was a perfect match for you just a year ago is
now the job from hell.
You may also want to change careers for other reasons. When
we are very young, work is largely a matter of paying the
bills and having money for the things we need. But as we
move through the different stages of our lives, our work
becomes increasingly a matter of how our soul lives out its
For example, if we have been working too hard, we want to
figure out how we can take more time to enjoy life. And
through each of our work choices during our lifetime, we
increasingly find ourselves looking for the work we feel we
were born to do. This is what career counselors mean when
they speak of looking for your calling, your dream job.
It's always a great experience for me to see someone I know
and like find the work for which he or she is best fitted
and in which he or she can find himself or herself as a
person. There is such work for each of us and finding it is
the most important thing we can do.
Once upon a time, corporations were like ocean liners.
Anyone fortunate enough to secure a berth cruised through a
career and disembarked at retirement age. A clear agreement
charted the voyage: In return for loyalty, sacrifice,
bureaucratic aggravation, and the occasional demanding boss,
you received job security for life. Unfortunately, in the
last decade, organizations have started heaving their crews
overboard. Instead of a lifelong voyage with only one
company, most of us are now engaged in a life-long search
for meaning in our work, a process in which career change
plays an important part.
If people are bored by their work, chances are they haven’t
found a creative way to make their time spent on the job
interesting. Either that or they lack the courage or
initiative to get into more interesting work. In either
case, their problem is the result of the course they have
followed. I know a woman who railed against her employers
for 15 years: how they cheated her, how her bonuses never
materialized, how promises were broken.
It never dawned on her -- until events finally pried her
loose from the hated work -- that every time she complained
about her bosses, she was saying that she lacked the
intelligence and courage to quit and get into more agreeable
work. Few people ever come to the realization that their
worlds are description of themselves. If a person feels
his/her world is too constricting, too uninteresting, too
unchallenging, too unrewarding, then he/she needs to stand
in front of the mirror and take a long look at the probable
It's a good idea for adults to take stock once in a while
and ask themselves, "Is this the right time to change
careers?" In our innermost spirit, we know that waiting for
the right time is often just another name for
procrastination. I can tell you from personal experience
that there probably never will be a right time. Conditions
will always be difficult. Obstacles will always be in your
And yet, a time comes in each of our lives when we know we
simply must accept that challenge. When we know we must do
what we really want to do with our lives, no matter how hard
the times and no matter how difficult the struggle may be.
We tell ourselves we're not getting any younger. We know
there’s a chance we may not succeed. But we know we’ll never
live our life until we at least try.
So here’s the big question: “How do you know whether you're
on the right path, with the right career, or in the right
job?” The same way you know when you're not. You feel it!
Each of us has a personal call to greatness - and because
yours is as unique to you as your fingerprint, no on can
tell you what it is.
Ignoring your passion is like dying a slow death. Your life
is speaking to you every day, all the time - and your job is
to listen-up and find the clues. Passion whispers to you
through your feelings, beckoning you toward your highest
Pay attention to what makes you feel energized, connected,
stimulated - what gives you your juice. Do what you love;
give it back in the form of service, and you will do more
than succeed. You will triumph.
About The Author
Joe Hodowanes, M.P.A., SPHR, is a nationally recognized
career coach, syndicated columnist, and president of
Tampa-based J.M. Wanes & Associates,
www.jmwanes.com . J.M.
Wanes & Associates is a career coaching, outplacement, and
executive search firm specializing in executive-level