Why Career Choices Matter in The Big Picture
“Life is about choices. Some we regret, some we’re proud of. Some will haunt us forever. The message: we are what we chose to be.” —Graham Brown
Have you ever stopped to think about how important your choices are, especially your career choices? They literally impact every area of your life. The fact is that your journey through life, the paths you take, are all directed by the choices you make.
My guess is, you spend very little time actually learning how to evaluate choices. There are lots of books about decisions of all kinds, but not on how you should evaluate career choices before you make a decision.
I will admit that many of our choices are inconsequential. Figuring out what you want for lunch is hardly a big deal. However, some choices will have a huge impact over a long period of time.
Here are some examples of choices that have long-term consequences:
- Choosing a career path
- Choosing a college
- Choosing a college major
- Is this the person I want to marry
- Do I want to have children, if so, how many
- Renting or buying a home
- Should I buy a new car or a used car
- Should I buy my child a car
- Should I allow my kids to play sports
Most of these are a little easier than evaluating and choosing a career. They are easier because, at least to some degree, you can predict how things will come out with some clarity. When you are considering a career, and especially changing careers, the possible outcomes become quite blurred.
In the case of college choices, when you have decided on a career prior to college, the choices become clear.
The real challenge in our list is career choice. It has a long-term impact on how you will spend the majority of your waking hours, yet how much time have you spent learning how to make choices relative to choosing your next career.
The good news is that there is a systematic way to make choices about your career and I want to share it with you.
I learned how to make choices the hard way. It was not through trial and error, although I tried that. It was through years of discovery that I uncovered some of the secrets to making good career choices. Reading lots of books, doing one on one coaching with well over a thousand clients, helping them find careers they are passionate about.
There are principles and concepts, or secrets, if you will, that govern the career choice process.
Let me share some of my secrets with you.
Check out this article “The 10 worst mistakes career changers can make.”
Career choice is both science and art
“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin. In other words, it is very hard to know yourself!
The career choice system is the science, you are the art. Anyone can learn how to make the system work, but you are unique, there is only one you. The problem is that you are blind as to what makes you tick. You know the basics about what you like and do not like, but that needs to get developed into specifics for the science of career choice to work.
You cannot make choices based on what you know
You cannot know enough to make good choices about the future; it’s more about who you are than what you know. You can only store about 227 MB of information. However, there are about 3000 terabytes of information in the world. In other words, you cannot just take what you know and hope to make good career decisions, there is just too much information to evaluate.
You must move from a quantitative process (using what you know) to a qualitative process (measuring the quality of the choices in front of you).
Start with who you are not what you know
The best tool you have for predicting what career you will be passionate about is who you are. There are many tools you can find on the Internet. You have probably taken a career test, or a personality test of sorts, all designed to help you figure out what career to pursue.
To understand what the right tools for career choice are, it is important to separate these tools into two separate categories: assessments and tests.
Tests evaluate what you know, skills, and preferences. All things you know, and as we stated before, humans just don’t know much in the greater context. This is why Mark Twain’s famous “The Greatest General That Ever Lived” story hits us right between the eyes.
“Mark Twain told a wonderful story about one man’s search for the world’s greatest general. The man spent an entire lifetime looking for the general and finally the day came for him to travel on. When he arrived in heaven, he walked over to St. Peter and said, ‘I’m looking for the world’s greatest general.’” “St. Peter said, ‘I know, I know, we’ve been expecting you, and I have good news. If you’ll look right over there, you will see the world’s greatest general.’” “The old man excitedly looked over and said, ‘That is not the world’s greatest general. That man was a cobbler on Main Street in my hometown!’” “St. Peter responded, “But had he been a general, he would have been the greatest general ever.”
Assessments identify who you are in terms of inherent talents, strengths, behaviors, personality, and temperament. The aggregated results of these assessments are what I call a person’s “Personal Profile.” Your personal profile describes who you are, not what you know.
You will be much more successful evaluating a career opportunity based on your personal profile, than on what you know.
Career choices or transitions are expensive
It takes time to find the right career. It’s not measured in days or weeks, but in months. Once you have made your choice, then there is the transition, the additional training or education and the difficult process of finding the job, all time consuming and all at considerable expense. You cannot make a wise decision on the cheap and you cannot do it overnight. Decide ahead of time to take the time you need and put aside a budget to make it happen. Use my Career Change and Transition planning guides to help you identify the costs and plan the process.
Every choice is another stitch in the tapestry of your life
Every choice you make is another stitch in the weaving of your personal story, a tapestry of your life. When you look back on life in your later years, you will see one of two tapestries, the one you created that depicts a life of fulfillment, or the one that life handed you.
The difference is in how you made your choices. Were they guided by who you are or by the pressures pushing you in different directions?
Your life has tremendous value and it only goes by once. Your time on earth is a nonrenewable resource, you cannot get any of it back.
What will your tapestry look like? About two-thirds of mine will be chaotic, without any structure or form, but the last twenty years have been glorious. Helping thousands of people live their purpose is very fulfilling. I was made to do it and my tapestry is telling the story.
Purpose, Potential, and Passion are the guidance systems of career choice
Life Purpose points you in the right direction
Potential is your toolkit for achieving your life purpose
Passion will put your potential to work for you
Compass, by Living My Purpose, will identify each of them for you and help you do something with what you learn.
There are hundreds of paths to choose, but ultimately, you can only choose one
When Alice came to the fork in the road, she only had two paths to ask the Cheshire Cat about. You have hundreds of occupations to choose from. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists over 550 career paths in their exhaustive list of occupation handbooks.
You have to figure out which one, or which combination, takes the most advantage of your talents, strengths, behaviors, and personality.
The fear of the unknown clouds your judgment
One of the worst times in life to make decisions is when you are under a lot of stress. Unfortunately, the wrong job can put you under a tremendous amount of stress.
If there is anything you need when you are making a career choice, it is clarity. Using a systematic approach combined with a thorough personal profile will give you the clarity you need in stressful times.
Generally speaking, the worst place to get career advice is from friends and family
This is counter-intuitive, but it is often true. Let me give you some personal examples.
In high school testing (not assessment), I scored high as a mechanical engineer. My mother encouraged me in that direction…bad advice. My friends knew I loved cars and motorcycles, their recommendation was for me to be an auto mechanic, bad advice. In college, my professor said I was good at computer stuff and I should be a programmer, bad advice. My clients said I was good at training people on how to use computers and I should be an IT consultant, bad advice.
Everyone had my best interests in mind. However, no one can know how sophisticated the human mind is. Even with our best science, there is still a lot of art that goes into the process.
The system is the science, you are the art.
Personal Profile Influences Your Choice of Career
There is some bad advice floating around in different circles about what career’s people should pursue, and it is influencing career decisions in a negative way.
Here are just some of it:
Do what you are passionate about
How many times have you heard “If you are passionate about it, you can make a living at it.” This one is particularly damaging to young students coming out of high school or college, but especially high school.
You can only be passionate about what you know something about, (of course coming out of high school, I did think I knew everything.) As knowledgeable as you might be, that is still a very small segment of all the careers out there.
Here are the top careers the people I coach want to pursue.
Everyone knows what these careers are about:
Every parent wants their kids to do these:
Everyone wants to make their hobby their career:
- Race-car driver
- Video game designer or tester
There is nothing wrong with any of these, but do you see the common thread in all of them. They are careers that everyone knows something about because we are influenced by them or put in front of them constantly.
First of all, not everyone is cut out to be successful at what they love. Just because you love racing does not mean you will be good at it.
Second, hobbies typically do not pay well enough to make a living at, the demand is just not there. Only a few people can make a good living in music, as an actor, an artist etc.
If you have a hobby that you want to pursue as a career, I would like to suggest you do two things. First, research the opportunities to work in the field, how much they pay and how many jobs are available.
Why not make your hobby your plan B and work toward a plan A career that you will enjoy (maybe less than your hobby), but will provide for your family and actually has job openings where there is demand.
College is wrong because it is expensive
Never start with what school should I go to, and never start with what kind of a degree should I get or how much it costs.
This may sound like common sense to you, but you would be surprised at how many people decide to go back to school as their first action item in a career change.
Always start with what career you want to pursue. The career you choose will dictate the education you need, not the other way around. But at least 70% of people leaving college, end up working outside their field of study. And students change majors three to six times while in school. An average of 66% drop out of public college and only 8% go on from a junior college to get a bachelors.
Why? It is simple, if you do not have a goal, you most likely will not have the drive to complete. And even if you do complete, you will most likely have wasted your time and money.
This is why people say don’t go to college. But the premise and the advice is wrong and possibly tragic.
Go to college only if and when you have decided on a career you know fits you and will provide the education for a career you are reasonably certain you will be successful in and one that you can actually find work in.
Blue collar is the right way to go
The premise here is all wrong. The premise is that you can work in blue collar work and be happy. That is correct for a certain part of the population. Blue collar jobs account for about 20% of the jobs in the US, in many cases they make the world go around and for some, it is the right way to go. But only some, again, about 20%. Whether you go into blue collar or white collar is the wrong question. What should you be doing for a career to begin with, is the right question?
Being an entrepreneur is the right way to go
First of all, you have to define what an entrepreneur actually is. If you have been told that a multilevel opportunity is an entrepreneurial enterprise, that is false. There are several kinds of business owners. Those that own a job, such as accountants, lawyers, etc. Those that own commercial businesses, such as gas station, franchises, restaurant etc. And there are those that are entrepreneurial, a new invention, a better mousetrap etc. If you are interested in furthering your understanding of what an entrepreneur is, read Peter Druker’s book “Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” You can find it on my blog under books to read.
I am an entrepreneur, so I believe in the value of entrepreneurship. But I would never encourage someone to become one unless their profile specifically identified it as a potential career path. The failure rate among entrepreneurs is staggering, the failure rate of all U.S. companies after five years is over 50 percent, and over 70 percent after 10 years. And that is just companies, it does not count the countless individuals setting out on their own seeking fame and fortune.
You have to be built for it, not just your profile, but there are other constraints you must deal with also.
If you are risk adverse, you will struggle, you will fail often and you need to be able to get back on your feet and keep going without being paralyzed by the fear of failure.
Most entrepreneurs work long hours, including lots of weekends. Most of our family’s vacation time were work trips where I could do meetings and vacations at the same time.
You have to be able to either bootstrap (an art of its own) raise funds or fund it out of personal savings, or unfortunately, take a second mortgage on your house, which brings up another issue: your spouse has to be on-board with this lifestyle, and is not a small consideration!
There is an old saying that partnerships are made in heaven and rarely work on earth, and my experience is that is very true; just look at the fifty percent divorce rate! Every business needs three partners working together. A marketing and salesperson, a technical person and a business person. Business is a team sport. By the way, I recommend you hire the other two and treat them as partners. Do not split your company into three equal parts, it is a recipe for disaster, but that is another book.
You cannot believe the amount of regulation you will be subject to, just having an employee is a legal nightmare. Again, not for the faint of heart.
This is not even an exhaustive list.
Now, let me say, if you are still excited about becoming an entrepreneur, and your profile shows you have what it takes, then you should not look back, go for it!
You have to go to college if you want to have a good job
This is just wrong on so many levels, but it is the advice of many parents and friends. You do not have to go to college to have a good job. It is true that college is a requirement for many of the white collar jobs and an absolute for the STEM professions (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.) But, there are tons of great jobs that only require trade school. And by the way, the best paying profession in the world is sales, and many sales jobs require no advanced education at all.
Anyone can do anything if you try hard enough
No, not everyone can be an NFL star, a movie star or a race car driver. Those are the extremes, but let me say, no one can do everything. There are just some things you and I are not cut out for.
I am a private pilot, I love it. But I am not cut out to be an airline pilot. I am terrible at repetitive tasks where the requirement is to do everything with a little more precision than last time and enjoy it. My son, on the other hand, is an airline pilot. He is perfect for it and his profile says he is; he has the traits companies are looking for in an airline pilot.
Make your hobby your career
Just because you like something, does not mean you will be good at it. I enjoy working on my classic car. But I really did not like working on cars for a living. I am not cut out for it. There are a totally different set of traits required to be a good auto technician than working on my 55 two door Bel Air Hardtop, and I am not talking about skills. I am talking about personal traits and aptitudes. Things you are naturally good at and allow you to fit into the mold, or requirements, of being an auto technician.
Sometimes, it is more important to know what not to do. I hope this helps you in your journey.
Your Career Choices Will Change Your Life
Seven things that will change your life when you change careers
Thinking about what a new future will be like, is paramount to a successful career transition. Another way to put it is, you need to have a dream. It is the dream that will give you the energy to keep going.
But guess what, your future will change the minute you decide to make a career change. Think about it, you are not going to be doing the same work, with the same people, in the same industry, and might even be working totally different hours from home.
Think about how your future is important to your successful transition. If you can think about a new life, one where you enjoy going to work, where you are rewarded for something you believe is important and one you are excited to tell family and friends about, it will change your attitude and give you the energy to move forward, so dream often and dream big.
A desire to have influence is natural. If you do not desire to be influential in your career, you are most likely in the wrong place, doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons.
A desire to be influential means you want to help as many people as possible and you want them to spread the word about how you can help them. It does not matter if you are working for someone else or you are self-employed, the principle is the same, being influential, or having influential relationships is very important to a future where you are in control of your own destiny.
One of the indicators that we need to make a change is how we are doing emotionally.
To better understand how this works, let me give you a brief overview of how emotions work. Basically “what we think about, is what we get emotional about.” So, when you are thinking continually about all the things you do not like about your job, about the issues it is causing you at home, with friends, finances etc., it generates strong emotions. It is the reason you are reading this. Your emotional state brought you to a point where you know you must change something or go on living in misery.
Now, think about what you will be thinking about when you are doing something you are well designed to do, something that comes more naturally and gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment. How do you think your emotions are going to react to that kind of thinking? You are going to be excited, focused, energetic, and passionate about what the future holds. It’s science, it will happen.
This one might strike you as a little strange at first, but changing careers does not necessarily mean you are going to be making more money. In fact, it is often the opposite. But money is not why you are changing careers, or is it? If money is the reason, then make sure it is doing something you will succeed at, and make sure your personal profile lines up with what you are about to do.
But often, a career change has more to do with just doing something you love. My last career change (and I have had a lot of them) was the first one where I actually did not care about the money. Don’t get me wrong, money is important, but it should never be the primary reason for a career change.
With over 1400 career coaching sessions under my belt, you can imagine how many different financial hurdles I have helped people contend with. Most of them result in a better financial outcome, but not always.
Your standard of living
If you measure standard of living by improved finances, then things could go either way. But finances are not the only measure of standard of living. Maybe for our purposes, we will call it quality of life. Your quality of life will definitely change.
qual·i·ty of life
- the standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual or group.
Let’s take them in order.
Health; stress is one of the main contributors to poor health and being in a job you hate is very stressful. Depression is another typical result of being the wrong person in the wrong place, and we all know the health issues related to depression, including suicidal tendencies in severe cases.
Comfort; what could bring more comfort than to know you will live and end well, that the tapestry of your life’s work was something you could be proud of.
Happiness; you know all about this one. Think about being the right person in the right place, doing the right things for the right reasons. Starting work excited about the day, living a life of purpose as you accomplish things you believe matter is bliss. Building mastery at what you do and given autonomy in your daily work because everyone can see your natural talents blossom in your work.
Within a short term, there will be some real changes in your schedule as you make margin in your work week to accomplish your career transition. There is no other way to make this transition than to make time in your schedule. During the transition, you will, most likely, work two jobs, your day job and your transition job. Millions of people work two jobs. I worked two full time jobs for two years when I changed from being an auto technician to a data processing manager. I was young and if you can do it any other way, I recommend it, but you can do it.
One of the real benefits of being in the right career is your attitude. Your attitude toward your family, friends and coworkers will be noticed by everyone, and especially you.
I have an acquaintance who, quite frankly, was a very unhappy person. Seemed like she didn’t have anything good to say about anyone or anything. Everything was a problem. Little did I know (those close to her knew) that she was in a bad relationship. In a matter of a week from the time she got out of a bad relationship, everything changed. I cannot believe the difference in her attitude toward everything. She has a constant smile on her face and a little bounce in her step. She is now working toward a new career and excited about life, and everyone else is excited for her too!
The right career choice is the key to a successful transition
This one may seem obvious, but it is not. You can think you are moving toward the right career because anything is better than what you are currently doing, right?
What you may be doing is moving out of the frying pan into the fire, I know, I did it four times before I found my personal calling in what I currently do.
So, how do you make sure you are not just moving into something else you will not be happy in? You must make sure you do it right. Don’t take anecdotal advice, don’t base your move on what you know something about and don’t try to work at your hobby. None of these approaches have a high probability of success. Instead, use the tools I have developed to help you make the transition. Some of them are free and some of them involve fees. Even if you decide to go elsewhere for help, make sure you do this right. The four transitions I made were difficult and took a lot out of me and my family, something I am not happy about. Do yourself a favor and learn from my mistakes.
Compass and all the services related to it have been tried and tested over many years, and it works. It is a lot of work, but it works.
The Impact of the Right Career Choice
Your first four decisions
As you contemplate making a career move, it is helpful to know what decisions you have to make. Here are four critical decisions you have ahead of you, the right decisions will propel you, and the wrong ones will frustrate you.
- Decide to take action. This may be one of the more difficult career decisions of all. But it is the only way things are going to change, the only way you will find yourself in the career you will love.
- Decide to “Press On.” Calvin Coolidge said “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”
Let’s unpack this a little. Do you see how significant persistence and determination are? Don’t worry about whether you have enough talent, the process will take care of making sure you are moving forward with the talent you need to succeed. In other words, talent is wasted if it is not applied in the right work, remember the right person in the right place. So what if you are not a genius, your profile will help you understand what your true genius is, but you have to decide to press on to take advantage of it. And education is simple, if need more, you can get it. Education is a commodity you can buy if you need it.
The thing you need most is to decide to press on, to use your true genius to make the world a better place.
- Decide to do the hard thing. What you are contemplating doing is not going to be easy, it is not going to be quick and it is not going to be a smooth transition. By its very nature, career transition is messy and filled with land mines. You can overcome them and I hope you will get some help from me or someone like me who has been there many times and charted the course through the minefield.
- Decide to do it right. When it comes to figuring things out, I like to do things on my own, after all, how hard can it be. The answer is, it can be very hard because we are blind to things related to ourselves, as Ben Franklin said “”There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
So my point is, don’t do this alone. Don’t try to figure it out yourself, the risks are high enough as it is and you do not have the time to reinvent the wheel. I have been there, done that, and it was expensive, time-consuming and did not work!
If you have not figured this out yet, I have a passion for seeing people succeed, it is what fuels what I do. So, it makes sense that I would put what I have learned from over forty years of career transition experience into a system you can use to take most of the risk out of the process. And at a very low cost. I have helped more than 1400 people with career transition, and Compass has been used by other coaches, educators and parents to help another 3000 people identify the right career.
Seven critical choices you have in your future
Am I going to make the transition on my own or with a coach?
I hope you decide to get help. I would like to be the one you choose, but even if you decide to go another direction, get help, this is a rocky journey that you need a navigator for, someone who has made all the mistakes and is able to keep you from making the same ones.
Will I use a system a person or both to help me through the process?
There are four ways to accomplish a career transition; 1) do it on your own, not recommended 2) do it on your own with the help of a system, a good choice if you are strapped for cash 3) hire a coach without using a system, results will vary greatly depending upon who you select 4) hire a coach who uses a proven automated system, recommended.
So, let’s go over the options
1) Do a career transition on your own, not recommended.
I have already beat this one into the ground. If you decide to go this route, you have decided to do what I did, four times, three times with very poor results. I hope you decide against it.
2) Do career transition on your own with the help of a system, a good choice if you are strapped for cash.
There are lots of personality assessments and career tests on the market, and many are free. Let me break them down to the most important ones for you.
Personality assessments identify your personality, the Myers Briggs or the MBTI fall into that category.
Strengths and talents assessments identify your attributes, traits and strengths and talents, the StrengthsFinders is an example of these assessments.
Behavior Assessments identify your natural behaviors or how you behave in certain situations, an example of these assessments is the DISC assessment.
Finally, the interest inventory test. Notice I said test and not assessment. The most popular of these are the Holland and the Strongs, these tests identify the general areas of interest you have, social helper, Persuader etc.
The Compass assessment I have developed this for over the last twenty years and it provides generic versions of all three assessments and an assessment version of the interest inventory. In other words, Compass identifies your interest based upon who you are, not what you know.
The major difference between Compass and its competitors is that Compass is not an assessment system that just identifies who you are. Compass identifies who you are, but also reveals your passion, your purpose, and your potential. Compass does not stop there, it reveals what to do with what you learn about yourself, including your unique career goal, occupations you will do well in and helpful personal development guidance.
3) Hire a coach to help you with career transition without using a system, results will vary greatly depending upon who you select.
Most career coaches use some sort of process to help guide you. Sometimes, it is a formal system like Compass, and sometimes it is an informal process they have developed. Your outcomes will depend upon the experience and capabilities of the coach.
Here are some things to look for:
Is the coach seasoned, in other words, do they have lots of coaching under their belts?
Is the coaches approach burdensome, in other words, is the system he uses going to keep you under contract for a protracted amount of time. One of the oldest tricks in the book is to spoon feed a client, after all, the more times you meet, the more work he/she has. I would not recommend you go into a discovery meeting thinking this is what the coach has in mind, but make sure the process is not unnecessarily burdensome time wise.
Does it include these steps at a minimum?
- Overview of the entire process (the Career Change Plan)
- Schedule margin development
- Financial planning sessions
- Personal history discovery
- Personal profile development
- Passion discovery
- Purpose discovery
- Potential discovery
- Career goal development
- Career choice guidance
- Education discovery
- Career transition planning
- Coaching through the transition plan
- Follow-up plan
4) Hire a coach to help you with career transition who uses proven automated systems, recommended.
Of course, this is the preferred lowest risk option, it is also the fastest, easiest and most accurate.
A coach that uses a proven automated system will provide systematic and at least partially automated process to accomplish the items in the list above.
Here is the difference the Compass Career Transition system provides.
- Overview of the entire process (the Career Change Plan) – Personal on-line Coaching
- Schedule margin development – Personal on-line Coaching
- Financial planning sessions – Personal on-line Coaching
- Personal history discovery – Personal on-line Coaching
- Personal profile development – Compass combines the results of five assessments
- Passion discovery – Included in Compass
- Purpose discovery – Included in Compass
- Potential discovery – Included in Compass
- Career goal development – Included in Compass
- Career choice guidance – Included in Compass and augmented with online coaching
- Education discovery – Included in Compass and augmented with online coaching
- Career transition planning – Included free on my blog and augmented with online coaching
- Coaching through the transition plan – Included free on my blog and augmented with online coaching
- Follow-up plan – Personal on-line coaching
The choice of Compass is a very low-cost choice and the option of personal coaching, through the areas you are having trouble with is always available, but most of the expensive stuff traditional coaching provides is automated, so you don’t have to pay to re-invent the wheel at every turn.
Traditional coaches are going to require you to do all the work anyway, why pay for them to repeat to you what they have repeated countless times before to others.
The Benefits of Making the Right Career Choice
It is difficult to predict with a high degree of accuracy, how people will fare in a new career. The transition is an emotional process, so trying to predict what someone’s emotions will be at some point in the future is difficult at best. But here are five things I have seen in clients that have made the transition, including myself. These are generally true, in other words, you will experience them to one degree or another depending upon many personal factors, but I think they can be helpful in giving you some idea of what your future might look like.
You will have a passion for your work
Don’t underestimate how important passion is, especially when you are in a new job, a new environment, a new boss (or new customers), and an entirely new group of co-workers.
Passion will fuel your desire to move into a totally new role and or job, even if you are stepping down a notch or two on the corporate ladder to gain the experience you need. But it will not be much different than what you have experienced when you have moved in your previous career, the difference is things will have an air of excitement. New tasks will sound like fun instead of the same old thing. Every task is an opportunity to learn, to come up with new ideas and ways of doing things.
Walking into a new office, a new shop, or a new building can be intimidating, but it will excite you, instead of fill you with fear. The anticipation up to point you are actually in your new career will rush in to fill you with hope. Remember, the first job you ever had, and the excitement and anticipation of your first day? Yes, it is intimidating, but it is also invigorating, isn’t that one of the reasons your shifting in the first place?
Put yourself in your new bosses shoes (or customers if you have struck out on your own.) How would you feel if you get to spend some time with someone you just hired? All the hope, all the potential you saw in them while you were getting to know them. The passion you saw in them was one of the primary motivators in hiring them. This is what your new boss will see in you.
How about your coworkers, do you think your excitement for your new role will be lost on them? No, it will bring memories of when they first started. Yes, everyone will know you are new, and maybe you have zero real-world experience. But no one can miss the passion someone has for what they are doing, and most people respect that, and some may even envy it.
You will be good at your job
Generally speaking, we are good at work where our natural talents, behaviors, personality, and interests fit like a glove. I am not saying that just because you are excited about the prospects of something you will be good at it. But think about it this way, if you have a natural talent for connecting with people and find it easy to meet and quickly get to know people, then you will naturally love any role in which you get to network, in fact, it will seem crazy that you get paid for something you find so easy and enjoy so much. Let me assure you that the opposite is true for a lot of people. Think about the horror an engineer faces when having to network. I could go on for hours about how who we are makes us good at the right job and terrible at the wrong one.
People will recognize your skills and talents
Unfortunately, I do not know how you are put together, so let me build the profile of a person and a career that will fit them like a glove.
Let’s call our imaginary person outlined above Jim. Jim is a Connector, this means he connects easily with people and wins them over quickly. He is also an Affiliator, this means he has a desire to build deeper relationships with others. Jim also has a trait I call Associator, Associators can see connections between people, how they are related, they have natural ability to read people. Jim also has Innovator and Opportunistic. Innovator means he is always looking at how things might be in the future and can paint a picture of it easily. Opportunistic gives Jim the ability to think strategically about things.
Jim’s behavior profile is one called Inspiring. This is a person who naturally inspires people with his ability to focus on “what could be.”
Lastly, Jim’s personality has a bent toward being an Adventurous Entertainer. This is the most outgoing if not gregarious personality.
You can probably already guess, just by what you have read, that Jim would make the perfect account representative for a company that sells products designed to help people have a better future. Jim will be a natural and it will be obvious to anyone paying attention. It is what his new company would see in him and it is what his fellow workers would see in him, not because he is trying to fit the mold, but because he is the mold.
Obviously, the profile of an engineer is very different, as are the educational and experience requirements, but an engineer will have traits, behaviors and personality that fit the role and make the transition to an engineer exciting and beneficial.
Your family will notice a change
To me, this is by far the greatest benefit of all. After all, we do not live to work, we work to provide a good living. That means what we do at work is to support a good life at home.
It stands to reason, therefore, that if you are in the right career, it will show up at home. You will have more energy, a generally more positive outlook on life, and a desire to grow as an individual, just like you have in your career. People will notice, and the people closest to you will pick up on it first and it will mean a lot to them and to you.
Your thought life and emotional wellbeing will improve
You will turn outward toward other people. Moodiness and even depression are, at their root, symptoms of someone who has turned inward. Some personality types actually make a person more susceptible to depression.
A new career is exciting, challenging and hard work, and you will not have much time to be hard on yourself, or brood over past failures once you begin the transition in earnest and start your new career. It’s not that it cannot happen, it is just that when your conscious mind is focused on one thing, it is harder to focus with any degree of intentionality on something else.
How Good Career Decisions Are Made
Three choices you have to make before you start your career transition
First, choose to change and to be persistent and determined
OK, you are probably tired of hearing me talk about the need to be persistent and determined, you may even remember the quote from Calvin Coolidge, but I bring it up again because to be successful at a career change, you must be persistent and you must be determined.
There will be setbacks, discouraging setbacks, and every time one comes up, you will need to be determined to work toward a breakthrough. What you are considering or have decided, will take time and will involve many changes to your plan. You will not see encouraging signs every day, so it is up to you to set the tone of the process. You must keep your chin up and take the bad news as an opportunity to pivot to what will work. Small successes will move you toward larger successes as you learn more about both the process and the requirements of changing careers.
If you do not choose to persist through the bad times, you will not finish well. There is some good news, however. Take the college dropout rate for students entering university planning to get a bachelor’s degree, it sits at an average of 50%. The reason for the high dropout rate varies, but there are some indicators that have to do with a lack of a solid goal, one that fits the passion of the student. It makes sense, if you set out to accomplish something difficult, it takes a big goal you believe in to accomplish it (especially when you are paying for it!).
Second, choose how you are going to make the change
Are you going to use a career planning tool, you should, and it should be backed by years of experience and success. A planning tool will help you with the steps necessary and help you prioritize them, so you can complete the process in the correct order and at the right time and place in the process.
Are you going to use a transition planning tool, and again, you should. The transition plan is different from the career planning tool. The career planning tool deals with identifying and pursuing the right career and preparation, it sets you up to have a successful transition.
The transition plan identifies and prioritizes what you have to accomplish during a career transition, and it teaches you how to make a career transition.
No worries, both career and transition planning tools are available on www.careerchangeplanning.com or use the links at the end of this book.
Third, choose what your new career path will be
I have messed this part of the process up many times and I have learned what not to do. Fortunately, I have also learned how to do it right and after helping over five thousand people (and over 1400 one on one sessions) make better career decisions using what I have learned.
It does not mean that making this big of a decision is easy, or fast, or even fun, but you can eliminate some of the biggest pitfalls by following in the footsteps of someone who has figured out where the land mines are and maps them out for you.
But, at some point, you have to make a decision. As much as other people would like to tell you what you should do, you cannot leave this up to someone else, not even a trusted coach. Others can help guide you through the process, but ultimately, you are the one who has to live with the decision and therefore you are ultimately responsible for making the right choice.
You not only have to make the right career choice, but you have to be excited about it, convinced it fits who you are, convinced you will have a passion for it in the long term.
The only way to gain that kind of confidence is research, research, and more research. Think about it, you spend most of your adult life at work. And you already know how hard it is to transition out of a career you do not like, so why would you go into another career without being totally convinced it is the right career? And how are you going to be totally convinced without digging into the details of what a career involves unless you do the work?
Again, there is good news, there are great tools out there to help you make an informed decision about your career, one of the most important decisions you will make in your life. My entire life over the last twenty years has been devoted to helping people make the right informed choice. I have all the tools and planning guides you need on www.careerchangeplanning.com and there is a ton of free information to help you through the process.
The worst sources of career advice
At this point, I think it is important to talk about where not to get career advice. Here are a few of the worst sources of career advice and why you should be leery of them.
Parents and relatives; parents have good motives, but they have limited insights into what occupations are available, and of course, they have no idea if an occupation is a good fit for you personally. As humans, we can only observe behaviors and personality, these are two of the drivers in predicting careers, but they are not the most important and without adding some solid science to the mix, most of the people closest to you will miss the most important factors related to wise career choice, not to mention the fact that as parents, we would love to see our kids follow in our footsteps, or to excel in what we have experience in.
Friends; friends are even more handicapped than parents. They only see the friend side of you and how much wisdom relative to a career does your friend have anyway. Normally, they know someone who makes really good money doing something, or they like their job and want you to work where they are, big mistake.
The Internet; if you have been scouring the Internet looking for career advice, you have already noticed how shallow the advice is, and you have also noticed that all the sites say the same things, and most of it is either wrong or incomplete at best. Much of what I see on the Internet related to a career change or career transition is really bad advice and is based primarily on what you currently know. What you know is a very poor indicator of what you should be doing, what you will be passionate about and what you will be successful at. If simply scouring the Internet was the answer, then there would be very few people unhappy in their career because there are thousands of sites claiming to have the answers.
Books; there are lots of books on career transition and I have read many of them. Some are very good and some are just a waste of money. But most of them dwell on how to make the transition, or how to prepare for it, not on how to choose the right career and none (that I have seen) offer integrated career research, occupation recommendations, coaching, career change planning and career transition planning that are all an important part of the process.
School Counselors; school counselors use what you know to help you decide what you should do, a very poor indicator of what you should do. If you are good at math, they will suggest math-oriented careers, if English, then careers requiring English skills and so on.
Recruiters and Headhunters; these professionals are very helpful once you know what you want to do, but remember, they are selling something. They need to find people to fill spots they have open. Helping someone find a career that they will be passionate about is not something that they are well equipped to do.
Anyone suggesting you should do a certain career; this happens all the time, someone has an idea about what you should be doing with your life and tries to talk you into their idea. This is the kind of thing that gets people into the wrong career to begin with. If you cannot use what you know to find the perfect career, then what chance is there that someone that knows a lot less about you can come up with something off the top of their head, not likely.
Your choice should involve the science of psychometrics, it should involve lots of research and it should include guidance of someone that has been through it and has successfully guided many others through it.
Outcomes from Making the Right Choices
There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them. ~ Denis Waitley
Career choice and your identity
Regardless of how much we hear about how our work is not our identity, it still has an impact on how we see ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of working to live, and not the other way around, but career and identity do have a relationship. This is especially true when you are failing in your career or you just hate it.
Over the years, I have succeeded and failed at many business and entrepreneurial ventures and each time, it has impacted how I feel about who I am. When I do well, I feel good about what who I am and when I do poorly, I feel bad about who I am. It is only natural.
When I finally landed in a career that I am well suited for, things turned around for me from a self-identity standpoint. I now know I am the right person in the right place doing the right things the right way for the right reasons, and it feels wonderful.
Imagine, if you will. I cannot think of anything any better than helping people understand more about how truly unique they are, and then help them see how they can take that new understanding and find a career that fits them like a glove, it is amazing to me that I get to do the work I do. The coolest thing about it is that there is nothing I would rather be doing, nothing. With my whole heart, I want you to be successful, I want you to be utilizing the uniqueness you bring to the world to change it. You have it in you, and with some tools and guidance, you can discover what it is and how to put it to work to propel your next career, it just takes time and work.
Just yesterday, I got to spend an hour and a half introducing a dozen students to how, over the next couple of weeks, they are all going to meet the exceptional person within and in turn, how to put the full weight of their true genius to work finding a career they will love. It literally had them on the edge of their seats. That is how I know I am in the right career, because people are personally impacted by what I do in a way that ties their personal worth to what they do in a positive way instead of a negative way. I cannot believe I get paid to do it, and if you ask me who I am, I will answer this way, “I am in the passionate pursuit of potential, and once I help someone discover their potential, I help them find a career they will be passionate about. That’s it, simple but incredibly powerful.
Remember, at one point in my life, I was in the exact same spot as you, probably worse. I was in my mid-forties before I finally figured it out, you are probably younger than that as you read this, maybe not, but either way, if you are want to find a career that has people eager to hear what you do that makes you so passionate, then start your journey with me, you will not be disappointed because I am in my wheelhouse when I am helping people accomplish exactly what you are struggling with.
What the right career will mean to you
So, once you are in the right career, what can you expect? I am not sure it is possible to read into your personal crystal ball and tell you exactly how you are going to feel, and what it will mean to you personally, but I can tell you about my experience and you can interpolate from there.
From the time, I was quite young I have been working. As a youngster, I was quite entrepreneurial. I grew up in a broken home and let’s just say, it was not a childhood of fond memories. At the age of twelve, I was looking for ways to make some money. I did not realize it at the time, but I wanted to buy an escape, and find a way to get out of the misery which was my life.
My grandmother had taken care of me from about age six to age eight, and I have fond memories of our summer camping trips to the White Mountains of Arizona. We would leave when it started getting hot in the summer and camp in the mountains until it cooled off in the desert.
She came to visit one summer. My mother had married her third husband (seven by the time she passed away) and he was in the US Navy. Let’s just say he was not a good guy and leave it at that. I got the idea that I could mow lawns and make some money to buy a motorcycle that a friend’s dad had told me he would sell me for fifty dollars. That was a mountain of money at the time, but I knew if I could just get a power mower, I could get people to pay me to mow their lawns.
I found a neighbor that agreed to sell me his old (by old I mean worn out) mower for ten dollars.
My grandmother agreed to loan me the cash and I was in business. The navy housing we were in all had large front and back yards, lots of grass and husbands that were away at sea or at home and not wanting to mow their lawns. It was a gold mine.
I worked all summer, paid off my grandmother before she left San Diego to return to the Arizona desert, bought an edger to add to my list of services provided. All summer I left early in the morning and returned late a night with a pocket full of money.
By the end of the summer, I had enough money to buy the motorcycle. My friend’s dad was in shock when I showed up with fifty dollars to purchase the motorcycle.
I felt good about myself for maybe the first time in my childhood, I had accomplished something special by working hard, I took a deep-seated desire, my own idea, and figured out how to make it work.
That was the beginning of my journey and to tell you the truth, most of it was transition after transition, trying to find something I enjoyed.
In the mid-nineties, I thought I wanted to become a pastor. My wife Theresa and I were sent to an assessment center to evaluate the fit. In other words, who were we, and would who we were fit what we wanted to do. The answer came back no. At the time it was hard to take but I got over it.
All was not lost, I was able to take what I learned about the assessment process and use it to figure out what I did want to do, and here I am, helping thousands of people become the right person in the right place.
If you look at where I was then compared to where I am today, it is a storybook ending. Never would I dream I get to do what I do today.
For the first time in my life, most of my business comes from referral, or from my writing. People actually tell others about their experience, how much it has helped them. All I have to do is what I love doing!
The right career will change your life, it will breath fresh air into your day, you will go to work excited and you will return excited. It will exhaust you but exhilarate you at the same time. Maybe for the first time in your life, you will experience true satisfaction in your work and that will build your confidence, and it will drive you to grow beyond where you are. It will improve not only your confidence but your relationships with the most important people in your life.
I started this chapter with a quote and I will end the chapter with a favorite quote, but first let me urge you, choose to change, choose to grow, choose to begin a better life. Whether you choose to take advantage of www.careerchangeplanning.com, someone else’s services or do it all on your own, make the choice to become all you can be.
“The key to accepting responsibility for your life is to accept the fact that your choices, every one of them, are leading you inexorably to either success or failure, however you define those terms.” ~ Neal Boortz