Ready for a Career Change, but Not Sure to What? Here’s How to Figure Out Your Next Move

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I spent four years earning my journalism degree, and seven-plus years afterward building my career in the industry only to realize that I felt like part of my purpose was untapped. But that ended up being okay for me because no one—myself included—is stuck on a single professional course for their entire working life. Oftentimes what separates people from achieving their goals and fulfilling their passions is not knowing how to find the right career after identifying a current situation isn't working.

This identification—and then resulting action—is easier said than done. The mere thought of ditching a career you’ve spent years or even decades building in order to dive into uncharted territory can seem impossible at times, or even irresponsible. But it is possible, and it's possible to do responsibly with the correct dose of courage, heap of passion, and willingness to take a leap of faith, all in the name of following your purpose and doing work that deeply fulfills you.

For me, that looked like adding "manifestation coach" to my journalism-heavy résumé. And sure, that may constitute more of a pivot, or even the addition of a side hustle than a full-on career change, but the personal change still required me to engage an introspective audit of what fulfilling my goals would look like. Below, two career coaches share how to find the right career for you and what moves to make next for a seamless and successful transition.

1. Get clear on why you want to change careers

Ashley Marie, career-transition specialist and founder of Ashley Marie Coaching, suggests doing some serious self-reflection to get clear with yourself about why you want to make the shift. She says to ask yourself whether you feel a lack of fulfillment as a result of your specific job at your specific company or whether the issue is more macro in terms of skills you're using. If it's a matter of features about your current role not working for you, perhaps a new position at a different company within the same industry can suffice in terms making a healthy change.

But if the issue is more macro, and you feel there's another skill or passion that you want to explore that your current role doesn't allow for? It could be time for a bigger change.

2. Define your vision

After you clarify your "why," for the type of change you're shooting for, whether that's inter- or intra-industry, the next step in knowing how to find the right career is pinpointing your ideal next gig, and maybe even job title. “This is the time for unicorn brainstorming and suspending all your what-ifs, doubts, and excuses,” says Megan Accardo, career and business coach and host of the Power Your Purpose podcast. Allow yourself to dream big and tap into what you really want to do rather than what you think you should or what other people say you should.

“This is the time for unicorn brainstorming and suspending all your what-ifs, doubts, and excuses.” —Megan Accardo, career coach

No idea where to even start? Accardo recommends getting clear on any of the smaller details you know for sure, like the type of environment you like to work in, the things people often seek your help to complete, what you don't like about your current job or industry, and what parts genuinely bring you joy. The more details you can note about what you do and don’t want in your new career, however small, the clearer you'll be on your vision.

3. Map out your action plan

Next, Marie suggests getting clear on what your career-transition action plan will entail. What do you need to do in order to get from where you currently are to where you want to go? Maybe you need to polish your résumé, develop a certain skill set, take certain classes, network, or address the financial component that may come from taking a different job. (If you're starting in a new industry, you may take a pay cut for coming in at an entry level, for instance.) Map it all out.

4. Start taking baby steps

While you may feel encouraged and inspired to get started on making your new vision a reality, know that carving out a new career path isn't an overnight job, and getting ahead of yourself can open you up to gaps in your employment and, as such, potential financial stress. That’s why Accardo recommends starting with small steps.

“It is important to start laying the foundation for your new career when you are not in ‘panic-mode’ and still able to provide for basic financial needs,” she says. “You may have to spend nights and weekends investing in your new endeavors. Remember this stage will not last forever.” So, that action plan you mapped out in step three? If possible, implement it in stages while you're still working the job and career you want to leave.

5. Take a leap of faith

Once you’ve identified you why you want a career change (and to which intended career), laid out an action plan, and started implementing it, it’s time to go all in and fully take the leap. It'll likely feel scary, but don’t let that hold you back. Especially given that you've done your due diligence to make the shift mindfully and responsibly, you should enjoy a feeling of confidence in your choice. “You will never feel completely ready, so trust the process and know that you can do hard things,” Accardo says. “Embracing change and being committed to moving toward a new career or new job that brings a sense of greater purpose is always worthwhile.”

Now that you're clearer on how to find the right career, here's how your astrology chart can help you unlock secrets to success. And for more tips on finding the right path for you, here's how your Myers-Briggs personality plays into your job choice.

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