On the Wrong Career Path? Here’s How to Shift Gears & Do What You Love

All season long on the podcast we’ve been talking about the importance of finding (and following) our true purpose, pursuing the things we’re most passionate about, and about how to harmonize all parts of our life so to ensure that we’re giving ourselves the grace—and the time, energy and space—to follow through on some of the projects related to both our purpose and our passion.

But what happens when finding our true purpose means that we’re uncovering a hard truth about the trajectory of our life thus far? What happens when, in rediscovering the things we are most passionate about, we also come to discover that the thing we’ve been doing to support ourselves all along is so out of tune with our true purpose that all signs point to changing directions completely and starting anew, in a new career, and maybe even in a new field?

That kind of epiphany can be a little hard to swallow, right?

This week on Episode 135 we’re talking all about pain and how we can rise above it whenever life presents it to us, especially if that pain stems from a difficult decision we might need to make in order to pursue the ideal life and career that we imagine.

And while we touch on a few high-profile individuals who are known for having pushed out of their comfort zone and beyond the pain that starting anew often brings on the episode this week, I thought we might take our conversation a bit further here today by exploring exactly what we can do when we find ourselves on the wrong career path.

But before we do, I just want to remind each of you—whether you’re in the “right field” or you’re starting to realize that a big change may be in order, that whatever the boat you’re in right now… chances are, someone else reading this is right there with you! And it’s perfectly okay to be vulnerable and to feel scared about making a big career shift if necessary.

The more we are able to rise up and meet pain when it comes around, the easier it is to let it go, and to move on when the time is right to take that first step out of the woods.

Let’s get started!


When it’s Time to Follow Your Dreams: 6 Steps to Changing Careers


1. Focus on Your Why—

In the world today, it’s easy enough to become bogged down by less than dazzling feelings about your day job… After all, so many people in the working world often report feeling unsatisfied in their current job role! It happens a lot.

But the sad fact of the matter is that, as much as we may claim to hate our jobs or to say that we feel as though we have completely outgrown our current station… far too many of us have much awareness beyond that.

In other words: it’s easy enough to declare that we dislike or even loathe doing something, but when it comes to actually following through on a career change… it’s important that we dive a bit deeper to get to the “why” that surrounds all of that discomfort.

And this is where too many of us fall short when it’s time to shift gears in our working life. We just don’t know where to begin!

The important takeaway here is that, if you’ve come to realize that your current career path just isn’t bringing you the happiness and contentment that you truly want your job to bring, then it’s absolutely necessary that you familiarize yourself with the why that underlines your desire to change careers before you even start in on creating your business plan (if that’s the route you want to take) or searching the Internet for job postings.

Ask yourself: Why do I want to change careers? How will this new career make my life better, or easier, or more satisfying? What are the potential risks of switching gears?

The more time you give yourself to address the answer to these questions and whatever other questions you may come up with that are related to your potential career change, and the more honesty you lend to your answers, the easier it will be to find and follow a new career path that will bring you exactly the kind of fulfillment that you’re looking for…

And the less likely it will be that you’ll find yourself aimlessly barreling toward something new that might just land you right back where you started!


2. Clarify—

Once you’ve pinned down the answer to your why, the next step is to determine exactly what you want your new career to look like!

What might your new job entail? What will it not entail? And, what might your new position be called? Will you go into business for yourself, or will you work for (or alongside) someone else?

Another question to consider is whether you have any skills that you might be able to transfer to your new position (bonus if you do!) – and what you might need to improve upon before setting off on your new path if you discover that your current skills aren’t necessarily geared toward your dream job. (If the latter is true, don’t let it thwart your efforts! Just be prepared to get your head in the game to learn something new!)

The clearer you are on what you need to do in order to make the new transition in your career as seamless as possible, the better off you’ll be. Trust me!


3. Determine What the Change Will Entail—

This step can go hand-in-hand with the last, but it’s an important thing to note just the same.

If you discover that some more training is in order before you can completely change careers (i.e. maybe you’re in need of a new degree, a license, or a few more skills specific to your new field), then it’s best to get your ducks in a row before you begin.

Write down exactly what you will need to do before your new career can truly take off. Will it require you to go back to school to finish that degree you started but didn’t get a chance to complete? Write down precisely what you need, where you need to enroll, etc. so that you have a clear direction in mind once you set out to get started.

Do you need some sort of licensure? Figure out the steps that it will require so nothing goes amiss and so you can plan accordingly, ahead of time.

Are you lacking a certain skill set? Write down exactly what you need to learn in order to make the transition happen!

The more prepared you are, the better you’ll feel when it’s time to get started!


4. Create an Action Plan—

We’ve talked about mapping out a timeline for our goals before, and this is certainly no exception!

When you’re creating your action plan specific to your career change, start with the end in mind. What is your ultimate goal, and does your ideal timeline look like as you pursue that goal?

Once you’ve got that set, it’s time to break your goal—and your timeline—down into smaller, bite-sized pieces. What are some of the milestones that you foresee meeting as you follow the trajectory of the timeline you’ve created? (Think of things like acquiring new skills, getting that degree or license, and so on. Use these as jumping off points!)

Next, give yourself some daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly tasks to complete that are geared toward those milestones on your timeline. This way, you’ll have a clear plan in place for what you can be working on as you pursue your new career (primary goal).

The more you complete the tasks you’ve outlined as they relate to your action plan, the more you’ll start to see how all of these small steps toward one big goal can make all the difference when it comes to building the momentum and the confidence that you need to truly succeed!


5. Make Yourself Accountable—

Here’s the thing: your goals will rarely see the light of day if you don’t make yourself accountable from the get-go.

It’s easy enough to have a plan in mind or written down on paper, but goal-setting rises to a whole new level when you actually take the time to make yourself accountable for all of the tasks and mini goals you set by tracking your progress along the way.

While the IWP planners are GREAT when it comes to tracking your goals and monitoring your progress so that you can adjust your sails if and when necessary, how you track your efforts as you make your big career change is, of course, entirely up to you!

If creating an Excel sheet works best for your needs (and your brain), then go for it! If sending reminders to yourself via your smartphone that are related to the daily, weekly, or monthly tasks you’ve created is ideal, go for it.

The point here is to make yourself 100% accountable for the goals you set so that your primary goal does not fall to the wayside, no matter what.

Choose the planning or tracking tool that makes the most sense to you and that works well with your lifestyle (at home and at work) and go for the goal!


6. Take a Deep Breath & Jump In—

Remember: making a big life change comes with its own set of risks, and it’s perfectly normal to feel a little scared or uneasy about how it’s all going to come together when you’re first starting out!

No matter what might lie ahead though, give yourself permission to simply get started. (After all, if we never try, then we’ll never truly know what we’re capable of, right?)

Take a deep breath, completely aware that you’re about to take a step out of your comfort zone, and jump in—knowing that you’ve done the work to prepare yourself for what’s coming around the bend, and that any progress you make will ultimately pay off in spades once you’ve met your new career goal.

You might just find that taking the leap to shift gears in your career isn’t as scary as you imagined it to be, but a rather exhilarating experience instead!


Have you made a big career change before? What are some of the things that helped you get through any major bumps in the gear-shifting road? Share your experiences and any pointers you might have in the career world in the comments below…

And be sure to tune in to Episode 135 of Productivity Paradox for even more insight into how to greet and embrace pain, and how you can effectively let it go when it’s time to get back on track in the pursuit of the life of your dreams.

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Tonya Dalton
Tonya Dalton