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Switching Careers Midway – How to Deal with the Dilemma

Switching Careers Midway – How to Deal with the Dilemma

There are very few things which can be worse than being stuck in a unsatisfying career. Let’s check that. There is nothing worse than the feeling of being stuck doing something you absolutely don’t love. Unfortunately the social structure of our country is such that it is an exception for children to grow up to do what they truly want to. As a norm, their careers are imposed upon them – most popularly, medical or engineering. A lot of us spend a lifetime stuck in careers and jobs we detest or hardly relate to. However, many a times, even as individuals, one might end up choosing a career path only to realize later that (s)he is better off doing something else.

It takes a great deal of courage to acknowledge the fact that everything you have been working towards has been in vain because it hasn’t made you happy. The good news is, things get better once you have accepted it. The decision of switching careers midway is a bold move.  We have worked with several courageous professionals who decided to make the switch and understand how difficult and confusing this decision can be. Through this post, we have captured some insights to help you through the process of switching careers midway.

Validating the Need for Switching Careers Midway – 3 Signs you shouldn’t Miss

  1. You hate doing what you do

    This is the most obvious sign, which you will miss only if you are a master of self-deception. Take a hint if you wake up every morning absolutely dreading the idea of doing what you do. If you come back home miserable and weary. It is understandable why a shift would seem scary and overwhelming. It is not easy to give up a steady job for a completely new dimension without the security your present job offers. However, while this might sound like a struggle, at the very least you will be happier at the end of the day.

  2. There has always been something else you wanted to do 

    You secretly dream of becoming a photographer, or working in the area of child rights or of becoming a journalist. What scares you is the fact that you are an engineer or a doctor. The fact that you are miles away from being related to your dream profession in any way. The knowledge that the shift will be nothing less than a paradigm shift is scary for. But think about how it is going to make you feel when years from now. When you realize you always knew what you wanted to do, but never did have the courage to go ahead?

  3. Your current choice of career doesn’t make the most of your skills (or any of your skills!)

    We are all born with talents and a skill set that is unique to us and that we have so diligently honed and developed. Your career should make the most of that skill set and should engage you in a manner that encourages you to pursue their further development. If your job seems to be drawing the life out of you, without utilizing your skill set or in a manner that satisfies you, it should be indication enough for you to reconsider your job.

Before you take the plunge of Switching Careers Midway:

  1. Make sure you are financially sound

    A shift is bound to bring with it some financial struggle. You will be shifting from a secure salaried job into unchartered waters. Additionally, such a change may require you to pursue further education, requiring you to specialize in a particular field. It is always advisable to ensure that your finances are in order before you take the plunge. Education, especially the pursuit of specialized fields, is expensive but is worth it nonetheless. Remember that you will not only need to pay for that education but also sustain yourself during that period.

  2. Weigh the pros and cons

    Would making this change add substance to your life? Is it a step in the right direction or is it a step backwards? Are you willing to risk a considerable amount of time and energy into ensuring that what you do next will be successful without the surety that it will? What is the capital required to make the change? Will this investment eventually bear fruit? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before you take the plunge. List out all the pros and cons and play the devil’s advocate. This will ensure that you take an educated decision.

  3. Talk about it to a career counsellor or someone you trust

    Once you have listed the pros and cons, talk about it with someone. Ideally, you should aim at talking with a career counsellor, since they are best suited to answer your questions. But don’t just stop there. Find a friend in the profession you wish to pursue, talk to them. If you don’t have a friend in that particular field, hit social media. There are various forums that discuss such matters and you are bound to find some answers there. Most importantly though, talk to your family about your decision. Understand, that career counsellors are commercially motivated and social media may not be able to connect with you emotionally, but your family is one set of people who always have your best interests in their hearts! And rest assured that in India, you will find enough devil’s advocates within your own family!

  4. Research thoroughly

    Finding out all you can about the profession you wish to pursue should form the backbone of this change. Your decision to transition – to follow your dream, should be firmly grounded in reality. Remember, once you have divorced yourself from your current profession or career, and taken the leap, it might be pretty hard for you to reverse the situation. So before you do take the leap, make sure you have a very good idea of what you are getting in to. The purpose is not to scare you or to intimidate you, but to ensure that you are aware of the finer prints of the struggle. Figure out entry barriers, as well the opportunities it possesses and the best way to make the most of the change.

  5. Have a back-up plan ready

    It is always advisable to have a back-up plan ready. Having a fall back option provides an emergency exit, a fire escape of sorts. Borrowing from “Valkyrie”, this change is “like war, and in war nothing goes according to plan!” You will have to improvise as you go along and be ready to drop the entire plan if it doesn’t work out in the manner it is supposed it. Remember that while it is great to be single-mindedly focused, it is also a good idea to allow yourself to be a little flexible, you never know how you may surprise yourself by going with the flow sometimes.

All in all it is never too late to make a change to our lives. One prime example is that of the Silver Surfers Club of Bangalore whose members, all above the age of 55, have found their true callings even at this age! It is all about taking charge of your life and deciding that it’s time for a change. Take the plunge, let life deal its cards, hold yours close to your heart and with a poker face on, beat stereotype at its own game!

Have a career question ? Reach out to us at contact@obolinx.com and we will help you with it.

Five Career Strategies to Maximize your Potential and Performance on your Job

Five Career Strategies to Maximize your Potential and Performance on your Job

Do you believe that the Performance Appraisal systems in your workplace actually work for you? Chances are that you don’t and you are in “good” company here. A study done by Sibson’s Consulting found that Only 30 percent of the study respondents (750 individuals, primarily senior-level human resources (HR) professionals) reported that their employees trust the performance-management system. Given that formal performance appraisals don’t seem to be working as well as they should to give employees their due, one needs to take charge of his/her career and have a self performance management system in place to ensure career growth and commensurate rewards.  Just being good at your work, efficient and cooperative is not enough – it takes more than that to grow and be successful at the workplace today no matter what your job role or level is.

So how does one take charge of their own performance management and hence the rewards arising out of it? What practical steps and behaviors are needed at the work place to ensure a positive outcome at the job? Here are five career strategies drawn out from my experience and analysis with my team and peers of what works:

Career Strategy #1: Work Hard AND Smart – Yup, there is no escaping working hard if you want to be successful. People on the outer edges of the performance bell curve are usually workaholics. But you also need to be smart here – learn to say no to work or assignments that do not fit into your goals early on. Else you are sucked into the vortex of work alcoholism with no real benefit to yourself – doing work that you do not enjoy doing helps no one in the long run. If your heart is not in it, you will not be performing at your best levels. So choose wisely and then be 100 % dedicated to your work.

Career Strategy #2: Promote yourself – This was a hard-earned lesson for me. I had always believed that my work will speak for itself and rewards may be delayed but will never be denied. But then, who has time to wait? You cannot afford to be shy if you want your work to be recognized.  Be aware of your worth and don’t settle for less. You have to be your own marketing manager and actively market the value that you bring in to your manager, department and organization. Make sure people know who you are and what you do. Make your achievements and contributions visible as and when they happen and not just list them at appraisal time. A good way to keeps track of your achievements is also to make your resume a work in progress document that you keep updated as when you achieve a milestone.

Career Strategy #3: Get a mentor or two or three – The advantage of having a mentor at your work (or outside) is multifold. A mentor can help you see a situation differently, identify your key skills and where you need to develop yourself and be someone in your corner when you need some additional support. Look around you to find people who you admire and are role models for where you want to be. Don’t limit yourself to one mentor. You might look to one for  domain expertise, to another for industry expertise, and yet another for personal scenarios when you need practical and helpful advice or brainstorming. And if you are lucky to find a great mentor, invest in that relationship and make sure that you too provide support when your mentor needs it.

Career Strategy #4: Build a network early on – “No man/woman is an island” as they say and in the work scenario, this is amplified. Build a strong and trusted support system of peers at your work place. Draw upon each other’s strengths to get ahead and for back up when you need it. Stay close and vent, strategize and have plain and simple fun within your group. I have also found this to be a good antidote to fight against any negativity (read office politics) in the environment. As you move up in your company or switch jobs or roles, be proactive in building your contact base and staying in touch. You never know who may be of help in boosting your career (and this works both ways) and serendipity often strikes when you are prepared for it. Social media makes this easy nowadays and LinkedIn is a great place to achieve this. There is rich content on the web on maximizing your returns from LinkedIn and here is one from an expert to get you started (http://dngraham.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/five-points-to-consider-before-participating-on-linkedin/).

Career Strategy #5: Keep Learning and Stay Positive – Being a lifelong learner is essential for your career success when skills, technologies and market requirements are changing so rapidly. Not only do you need to be open to new experiences and keep learning to convert your weaknesses to strengths but also to be current and relevant in today’s job market. Set your own training goals for the year and make sure that you keeping adding new skills and knowledge to your repertoire. Limit your exposure to negative environments and people – these are energy suckers and if you are not careful, you would soon be working on fulfilling someone else’s agenda instead of your own. Remain positive and true to your own performance plan and keep moving forward on the goals that you have set for yourself – so much more productive than being distracted by negative office politics or complaint-sessions.

Maximizing your performance and potential on your job needs you to take control of your own career plan – be the CEO of YOU Inc. Be fiercely intentional about where you want to be, know your worth and be BODACIOUS (one of my favourite words – meaning a combination of Remarkable, Courageous, Audacious, Spirited) at work.

I leave you with these words from Abraham Lincoln: Always bear in mind that your own resolution to success is more important than any other one thing.

What would you add to the list above as necessary strategies to Thrive and not just Survive at work? What has worked or not worked for you? I would love to hear back and learn from you.