Making a career change

Last week where I live was the national guidance counseling week. Guidance counselors are well known in schools but we also work with adults with all kinds of experiences. I was too busy last week to write about it, even though I wanted to, so here is my post about an aspect of my work which is change. I gave a workshop on how to  take control of your work situation and bounce back and here is the essential content of it.

A lot of time when people start a process with a guidance counselor, they want to change because they are unhappy with their work. But often enough, they think they will have to make a 180 degree turn, throw all they’ved done to the trash, or think they will need to go back to school to make that change. And you know what ? That’s not necessarly the case all the time.

Usually, when you’re unhappy or unsatisfied with what you’re doing the first thing you need to think about is : why am I unhappy ? What I am unhappy about ? What are the cause of my insatisfactions ? It sounds simple but really, usually, that’s where the core of the problem is located. If you don’t know why you want to change your career, you won’t know what to change and how to do it, right ?

Here is an non exhaustive list of what could be wrong :

–          I lost my job

–          I love my job but I don’t like my tasks

–          I love my job but I have problems with my colleagues or superiors

–          I love my job but I don’t like the workplace, the values of the workplace, etc.

–          I don’t love my job but I love my colleagues or workplace

–          I don’t have enough challenges, projects at work

–          I feel incompetent at work

–          I feel like my work isn’t recognized

–          I can’t get a promotion where I work

–          I feel like my job is taking over my entire life

–          Etc.

You see how these different situations imply different solutions ? Sometimes, little changes can be made to make your career more interesting. And you need to establish which place your career takes in your life. For some people it’ll be the place for personal growth, where they can accomplish things, have an important position with lots of responsabilities, give them a social status, provide them a meaning or purpose in their lives. For other it’ll be the place to earn their salary, a way for them to be able to pay for hobbies or passions outside work. It can also be something that structures their lives, a place where they meet new people or important people, an opportunity to create. All those aspects and many more are part of our values and even though it’d be easy for everybody to judge some of those answers, all of them are fine as long as it’s what YOU really feel. And when you discover what’s important for you, then it’s easier to decide what to change in your life accordoing to such values :

–          Your tasks

–          The tools used at work (and not just a hammer and nails!)

–          Your responsabilities,

–          The work climate

–          The company, its work’s organisation, its culture

–          The field you’re working in and what it extols

–          The values associated with your job or in this field of work

When you establish what your values are, it’s also important to know yourself. Because it’s one thing to say I don’t like my job but then what DO you like ? Here are somethings you also need to know about yourself to make a change for the better.

–          Your knowledge, what you’ve learned, your diplomas

–          Your skills

–          Your personnality traits (your strength and vulnerabilities)

–          Your interests

–          Your social network

–          Your projects

–          Your reality (financial status, marital status, family status, geographic status that could influence your decision)

That’s usually the part where guidance counselors can really make a difference. They can help you make connections between all your experiences, knowledge, personnality, interests, projects, goals, dreams. Usually, people think they did lots of things, that they didn’t have a plan and it’s kind of everything and nothing at the same time. Well, you probably don’t realize it but all that has things that connect it together : YOU 🙂 And each of those experiences are saying a lot about yourself. In all those things you did, you discovered things about yourself, there are things you would do again, others not. Hence, when you’re guided or helped by a guidance counselor, you can realize how rich is your past !

After that, when you know all that about yourself and an idea of what you’d like to to emerges, you need to get information about that idea. :

–          What are the tasks related ?

–          What are the responsabilties of that job ?

–          Where do these people work ?

–          What’s their salary like ?

–          What kind of team they work with ?

–          How to I get to work in those jobs ? (is school involved, do I need to know someone, do I need to be part of a union or order, is there a long process, etc).

–          What are the prospects in that field/job ?

Then, when you have establish what makes you unhappy in your job, what you want to change, who you are at this period of time in your life, where you want to go and how you can get there, you have all the tools in your hand to make a change that will be far more interesting that listening to your know-it-all brother in law that knows with certainty what’s good for you (you can replace that person with an aunt at christmas or with your parents, you know who those people are J).

So, have a talk with you boss, resolve some issues with coworkers, go train to become specialized in something specific that your employer will benefit, get transfered to another branch or outlet of the same company, get transfered to another team, apply for a higher position, negociate a change your schedule at work, find a job closer to where you live or move to get closer to your job, etc. Those are examples of scenarios you can choose when you decide to change.  They come down to :

-Maintaining your job by negociating some adjustments

– Maintaining your job and change your workplace

– Get specialised in an aspect of your work, transfer your knowledge to something else

– Reorientate yourself towards something new

Happy Belated Guidance Counseling Week !

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