How to Change Your Career in 5 Steps

by: Kris Kirilova

Kris is a counselor & owner of Career Life Choices – a counseling practice in Arlington Heights, IL.

How to change careers?  Many people stay unhappy in dead-end jobs , and justify that with security, a stable salary, or not enough time or courage to do something else. They might be on auto-pilot, burned out or miserable but change sounds difficult. So where do you start if you want to change your career and shift to a different direction?

Here are 5 critical elements that you have to manage in this process. People struggle at different points but most do not have an idea where to begin.

1.Soul searching. Gaining deeper knowledge about yourself is the first step to discover what you care about, and what you want to discard. Begin the process by getting to know yourself:

  • Who you are?
  • What are your passions, strengths, talents, and personality?
  • What brings energy and meaning to your life?
  • What are your values?

Someone in their 20’s might prefer to travel and meet new people while people starting a family may opt for work-life balance. Keep in mind change requires introspection and willingness to grow. The goal is to re-ignite your motivation and release any barriers that hold you back.

2.Dissolve hidden beliefs and fears that may keep you stuck. You will be making a change, and change requires courage and going beyond your comfort zone.

If you have negative thoughts about yourself, your worthiness and the world, then you may not be ready. Many people struggle with some fear of the unknown or fear of failure. Most individuals seek some career counseling and the advice of people who have re-invented themselves.




It is exciting to change your career but it could be nerve wracking too.
You have to believe in yourself to succeed and manage the uncertainty in your transition.  You have to come up with strategies do deal with the unknown, and create a support network for yourself.

3.Career Exploration. Once you have a good assessment of yourself, and your preferences, it is time to align your knowledge with career options. Explore, research and gain clarity about your best-fit careers. What kind of careers and workplace settings exist that would be a good fit? I advise clients to connect with others and do informational interviews to learn first-hand knowledge.

Some people like to set up experiments – such as shadowing a professional, doing volunteer work in their chosen field, or an internship to double-check their expectations with reality. Evaluate all the information you have gathered, and then make a decision which path you will pursue.

4.Putting it all together. You want to create a new career vision based on internal and external information. You also have to manage yourself and your anxiety by keeping an open and positive mind. Be aware of your feelings and intuition– it is not uncommon to have conflicting feelings and thoughts in this process. View uncertainty as a new experience and opportunity for growth.

5.Plan of Action. The final step is developing a plan of action, including finding a mentor or two, and joining industry organizations.

On the practical end, you will be asking: Do I need more education to make the change? Do I need to volunteer or take an unpaid internship? Can you quit your job while you transition or work part-time to cover some expenses?  How will this affect my finances?

Unsure about working with counselor? Learn how to choose the right professional for you: Do you need a career counselor, coach or therapist? 

Take a step now toward a career change by asking me a question, connecting with me, talking to a career changer or reading a book.  Small steps is what counts, and what will generate some movement in your life.

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