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Change Your Work - Change Your life
By Norma Zuber, M.S.C.

With the turbulent changes taking place in today's workplace, career paths are ever more frequently taking new, and sometimes quite unexpected, directions for men and women of all ages who are seeking new options and/or clarification and direction for their lives and careers.

Are you discouraged and believe you are "stuck" in your occupation with no concrete idea of how you can change your plight? Whether your occupation is a "paid" job or homemaking, do you struggle with the dilemma of "stay or leave" with no obvious answers at hand?

There are four essential, integral components to gaining control, making changes and moving through the lifetime process of career development whether you plan to stay in your current occupation or move on.

The first component is self-evaluation to identify personal characteristics such as your interests, values, preferred skills and personality type.

The second component is to identify occupations or aspects of work, based on these personal characteristics that would be satisfying and suitable for you, and to learn how to locate accurate resource information about these occupations or jobs.

The third component, once you are well-versed in the first two areas, is to make informed choices. You are already aware there is no easy answer or perfect job. However when you have the right information, you gain control of weighing your own "trade-offs" and you no longer feel like a victim, whether you choose to stay in your current position or move on.

The last component, once you are well prepared and ready, is to "take action". This step may include developing a resume and learning interviewing and job search skills.

Changing jobs: Although navigating career changes in this current occupational climate might seem quite intimidating, all this change also creates an ever expanding vista of new opportunities which can be quite exciting to consider. Now may be the time to take the risk!! This could be your golden opportunity to reevaluate what you really want to be when you "grow up". It is a time when you can take stock and determine your personal "trade offs", establish more satisfying personal boundaries and perhaps pursue new educational goals.

You may have more life/work time left than you think and when you find a career path you love, you aren't really "working" anymore. Even though there are no easy answers, the best way to move forward is to break the huge, overwhelming big picture down into small pieces. Set goals by deciding when you would like to see the goal achieved. Put it on your calendar and work backwards through the steps you need to take to get there. If you would like to have a degree in five years, you might start with one or two classes. It is said "A goal without a date is just a wish".

Once you get focused on what you really want, it may be more feasible than you realize to plan ahead to a more satisfying future and far reaching goal that requires some research, training, education or job search skills. Go to a local library or career center and explore options. Read about job search skills and local educational or training programs. Many of these programs are short term and structured for working adults. You may be surprised at the options you uncover. If you feel you need some guidance find a qualified career counselor in your area.

When changing your job is not an option and you are really unhappy, what can you do? Many times a career change does not seem to be an option. There may be instances where financial needs must be met, or you feel geographically trapped or overwhelmed by family obligations. There could be health problems that would not be covered in a job move. Perhaps in evaluating your personal circumstances and today's work climate, your decision to make a career change would be too risky or intimidating. Because of this you may be unable to make a responsible change at this time.

Are there other possible options? Yes!!

Change aspects of your job: Analyze the job. Compare it with what you need and see what is there and what is missing. What kind of work environment would be right for you. Can you create it? Look around at the whole company. Could you transfer to another department that would be more fitting for you?

Change work groups or projects: Are there other areas, projects or tasks in your place of employment that are attractive or interesting to you? Are you unhappy with certain people you are working with or for? You might ask to be reassigned to change these components. After you have been with a company for a period of time, you have value to the company which gives you power to ask for changes and a good possibility that your request for change will be heard.

Change the meaning of work in your life: Your work must relate to the rest of your life as you strive to balance family, personal interests and civic roles. If your work is all consuming and you are not happy in your job, it may be helpful to also look beyond your work to evaluate how well you are integrating all aspects of your life including: physical (exercise, diet, no substance abuse); intellectual (stimulating learning, e.g. taking a class, reading etc.); emotional (dealing with depression or past history); spiritual (inner peace and strength); and social (connecting with friends and having fun).

Are other things missing such as hobbies sports, artistic interests, working with your hands, gardening, travel or other pleasurable activities that may have been laid aside? Some of these could enrich your life and lessen the negative dominant role your job now has.

Five Tips For Making a Career Change

  • Determine what you really want and/or need in your life and from your work.
  • Learn how to effectively research occupational information.
  • Be able to logically and realistically measure personal "trade offs."
  • Develop career transition tools such as resume, job search skills and effective interviewing "know how."
  • Learn how to inflitrate the "hidden job market" where 80% of job openings are found.

 
 
Copyright 2006 Norma Zuber and Associates