We have the freedom in this country to choose our profession. Yet, the number of Americans who don’t enjoy their work is astounding. If you feel stuck, use these five steps to take charge of your career:
1. Know what you love
The work you love falls at the intersection of your unique talents and your favorite things. Make a list of what you are proud of, then circle everything on the list you truly enjoyed doing. Think about what subjects you read about just because you are interested. Then, make a list of work possibilities.
2. Interview people who do what you love
Get a feel for the real experiences of people who have already taken the paths you are considering. This critical step provides you with enough information to decide which possibilities on your list are worth deeper exploration.
3. Reframe your history
Write a list of skills and experience that would make a person great at the work you want to do. Then, for each item, list the skills and experience you have that correlate. You’ll find you are left with very few holes; most are actually advantages because you have a fresh perspective.
4. Collect relevant experiences
Find a way to immerse yourself in the world of your target work for 4 – 8 hours per week. This can take the form of volunteer or part-time work, joining professional organizations, attending conferences, and reading industry books and news. You’ll be surprised how quickly you get up to speed, and if it doesn’t feel like play time – go back to step one!
5. Network for opportunities
Build relationships with people in your target industry, and keep your eyes open for chances to solve problems and add value. Communicate your goals clearly, but don’t expect job offers right away. Enjoy the process and act on opportunities that line up with your objectives and income requirements. In this stage, consistency and follow up are the keys to success.