Considering Switching Careers? Here Are 5 Exercises That Will Help

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Photo: Courtesy of Nick Morrison

In today’s world, switching careers has become a lot more prevalent. Gone are the days of staying at the same company for 10+ years, of settling for what is comfortable and familiar. 

Obviously, taking the leap from one industry to another is no minor decision, and you want to have a plan in place before embarking on such a large transition. While your heart may be in the right place, it’s important to make sure you’re thinking ahead to your future needs and desires before finalizing your next move. If you’re someone who has been considering switching careers, there are five areas of exploration that can help clarify your decision so that the next job you land aligns with your skills, interests, and professional aspirations.


Unique Gifts and Talents

Before you consider a particular industry, it’s important to take a look at which gifts and talents are unique to you as an individual. Maybe you have a good eye for design, or maybe you host out-of-this-world events. Whatever you’re naturally good at, write it down. Even if these gifts or talents don’t directly convert into a career, it’s important for you to be aware of these distinctions as they could be used as leverage when searching for a new job. By writing these strengths down, you will gain insight into passions you may have never even considered as a career before.


Skills You Would Like to Strengthen or Learn

From teaching and managing to researching and communicating, there are many skills you may already possess or desire to learn. Teaching skills may include developing materials, facilitating, and instructing, while communication skills may include interpreting, lecturing, and promoting. Think about the skills you currently use, and whether or not you would like to continue strengthening them. If you’re feeling burnt out, there may be skills you know you would be good at, but you have not yet had the chance to learn.

To complete this exercise, create a two-column table that outlines both of these categories (skills currently utilized vs. skills you would like to learn). With this clear picture of your talents and desires, you will be able to effectively determine what industries match your current — and future — aspirations.


Work Values

We’ve all heard of personal values, but what about work values? Examples include independence, challenge, security, and advancement. For this exercise, list all of the work values that are important to you. Then, rate them on a scale of one to five (one being not important and five being essential) to determine what values you care about most.

While you’re doing this, it’s important to think holistically, as opposed to what you prefer at this very moment. Whether you’re 20 or 50 years old, there are certain values you cannot live without. Focus on these while you’re completing this exercise, and try to find a balance between what’s important to you now and what you think will be important to you ten years into the future.



Spiritual Vision

Many of us have dreams of contributing to society through our professional work. However, sometimes you have to scale down these dreams to find a balance between professional stability and spiritual fulfillment. Before switching careers, it’s important to map out your spiritual vision — how you would like to make a difference in the world — so that you can connect these aspirations to your future job responsibilities. Oftentimes, there may not be a clear connection, and that’s okay. By having a vision in mind, you’ll be more likely to choose a job and industry that offers opportunities to bring this vision to life. 

For example, maybe your main mission in life is to protect and provide shelter for others. A potential career option could be cybersecurity. To fill in the gaps, you could foster shelter dogs. You want to make sure the job you choose fulfills some of your needs so that you are able to bridge the gap through other personal or professional endeavors. When a portion of your vision can be executed through your new career, you have a higher chance of sticking with it long-term.


Industries of Interest

Once you’ve explored the above areas, it’s time to make connections between your individual skills, interests, and aspirations and a new industry. Examples of potential industries include fashion, consulting, hospitality, and marketing. For improved results, see if you can combine two to three fields of interest to discover a whole new career possibility. While exploring your options, compare and contrast them based on their alignment with your previous findings. The more similarities you find, the better.

As a general rule of thumb, you always want to conduct thorough research on an industry — as well as its hierarchy of roles — so that you have a solid understanding of the career trajectory.