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How To Strategize Your Next Big Career Shift

Ask the right questions, make plans, and take action
by Justine Punzalan | Apr 10, 2018
Most Popular

In his book Authentic Success, psychologist and happiness expert Dr. Robert Holden introduced his human behavioral study that he coined “destination addiction.” According to Holden, “this is the preoccupation with the idea that happiness is in the next place, next job, and with the next partner.” He explains, “Whatever you are doing, you are always thinking about what comes next. You are always in a hurry when you don’t need to be. You hope the next big success will finally make you happy.”

This constant pursuit of happiness, though, led many accomplished men towards their successes. Jeff Bezos quit his lucrative career in Wall Street to develop Amazon, billionaire Dietrich Mateschutz was marketing shampoos until he kick-started Red Bull, and Phil Knight worked as a certified public accountant before bringing Nike to the retail arena.

Yet the difference these men have from people experiencing destination addiction is that they equipped themselves with enough self-analysis, research, and capital before they shifted gears. Choices and actions were done with intelligence.

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If you're planning to change careers just like them, it's best to back yourself up with everything you need before taking the leap. Break away from destination addiction by having your well-thought-of purpose in mind.

Here's a guide to identifying that purpose and making your career rerouting a smooth one.

Define your reasons

Clarify your reasons for wanting to leave your current job and assess if these are aligned with your core values, skills, and long-term goals. Issues like low compensation, a problematic boss, and inconvenient commute are specific to your work environment and can be solved by transferring to a new employer.

If what you do that doesn’t give you fulfillment, however, then it’s time to list down your career options. Ross, a financial advisor who quit his 9-to-5 job as product designer, says exhaustion from lack of time flexibility was his first consideration for resigning. "I was an early riser, so I'd always be at work on time," he says. "But I'd always leave late because of required overtime work, which was tiring. Unlike with my job now, I only have to go home late when I have to meet a client at that time."

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The monotony of the corporate grind also got to him. An expert who has had five years of experience doing field work, Ross then he was compensated enough for the hard work he put in. "Based from my experience in the creative industry, sometimes even the overtime pay cannot make up for the sleepless nights spent in meeting a deadline.”

When Mae, a registered nurse who now works as email support specialist, reached a state of rut at work, she asked herself these questions before she decided to finally quit: "Sabi ko, 'Am I still happy with what I'm doing? Does this job help me attain work-life balance? Can the pay still provide for my family's and my own needs?'" 

The answers to her were clear, so finally she resigned and changed course.

Are your skills transferable?

Enumerate your capabilities and evaluate if these would help you meet a prospective new employer's set of requirements. “Think about what you can use and those you lack for your new career [first]," suggests an article by "You may realize you would need to invest in learning specific skills so you can actually do your new job.”

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Ross also shares his experience of his career transition. “My new job is simple, but doing it consistently is what makes it difficult. Being a financial advisor takes a lot of confidence and practice. And being able to pull that off depends on your own effort.”

Do your homework and prove to employers that you have what it takes to succeed in your new role. Power up by learning new skills as well. SpeedyCourse Philippines, Udemy, Inc., and edX offer online courses that can upgrade your existing plus-points. 

Plan your action steps

Change requires strategic thinking that keeps you focused. “We wanted Nike to be the world’s best sports and fitness company," Phil Knight said. "Once you say that, you have a focus. You don’t end up making wing tips or sponsoring the next Rolling Stones world tour.”

Create a compelling yet realistic vision

Design a plan that's fixed and attainable, then let it guide you in your career journey. As contributing writer Kathy Caprino puts it, “It’s critical to identify concretely what amazing success and reward look like for you specifically, but then break that down into a vision that fits well with what you believe is possible. If you dream of writing a book, then start writing—a blog, an article, your first chapter, a guest post, something. Work towards your compelling vision so that it doesn’t remain in the sphere of the impossible.”

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She adds: “You need a three-month, six-month, and 12-month plan, with specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely goals. Get help, build a plan with milestones that you can measure, and get on the path to expanding yourself so that you are a true match with the great career you long for.”

Test the waters

One way of knowing if you'll fit just right in your target job is to give it a try. “Do what you can to test drive the new profession," suggests. "Perhaps this means earning a paycheck at your current job while doing a part-time internship in your new field.”

Networking is a must-do. Check who among your friends or ex-colleagues work in the field you’re interested in. Ask them questions about their work. Sign in to LinkedIn, get in touch with your college alumni association, and see who are good contacts who can give you a thorough background on a job or an industry. The key is for you to get the real story always.

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Check room for growth

“There’s life beyond what you’re currently in, if you’re brave enough to take risks," says Greg, an ex-graphic designer who's now a real estate broker. "It’s never too late to find your true calling.”

And just like Greg, it's best to know what your opportunities for growth are. Determine if this is where you want to be five to ten years from now. “You wouldn’t want to be in a situation where you’ve already cut ties with your old career, only to feel lost about where you’re heading," a article says. "Your destination is an integral part of your career shift.”

Ross recommends asking yourself these questions:

-Will this new career help me grow mentally, socially, and financially?
-Will it strengthen my relationship with my family and friends?
-Will it challenge me to be become a better version of myself?

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Weigh all the pros and cons and be level-headed before deciding with finality. Although shifting careers can be overwhelming, with the right planning, things can turn out greater than you expected.


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