- Finding yourself at a career crossroad can happen at age 35 or even 53. What matters, is how you deal with it.
- Dissatisfaction with the job, craving for excitement and seeking more meaning in your current role, are considered as the most common reasons for arriving at such a situation.
- Understanding your current situation, charting out your future course of action, and channelling your thoughts into action will get you out of the situation you find yourself in.
Each of us spends a considerable amount of time charting the course we plan to take in our career. From pursuing a relevant degree that sets you off on your career journey, to adding relevant experience which will help further the ultimate goal, we spend considerable time and effort towards its fulfilment. It is therefore disheartening and confusing, when things do not go according to plan.
The current socio-economic scenario and the way organizations are constantly changing to keep up with trends, has meant that jobs too have undergone unprecedented and unforeseen changes. While some traditional industries are disappearing altogether, some others are undergoing a complete shrinkage as jobs move abroad. The increased use of technology has made human intervention in work totally redundant, in some others.
Viewing the dynamic changes that are taking place so quickly, it is better to be prepared and plan your next career move well in advance, rather than be taken by surprise and have the change forced on you; a reason why many of us find our Careers at the Crossroads.
Arriving at a career crossroad can happen at any age, whether you are a young professional of 30 or even an established businessman at 50.
Some common reasons that are responsible for this life-impacting situation include:
- Redundancy from your present position in the company
- Seeking more meaning and purpose in your job.
- Feeling bored, undervalued or lacking stimulation in your current job.
- Realizing that your career has reached a place which hasn’t made you happy as expected.
- Craving for more variety and excitement.
- Craving for flexibility in what you want to pursue.
- Reaching an age milestone makes you want to do things that you had always dreamt about.
- When the future of your career seems bleak.
- When you want to venture out on you own; set up your business or become an entrepreneur.
- When you want to change your work direction, move to a different country or get into a less stressful job.
- When you don’t want to uproot yourself or your family from their current location.
- When you are generally dissatisfied about the work which brings in more money as you grow professionally, but less happiness.
Being at the crossroads in life can be very scary, since it involves radical change. At this stage, you are not just worried about yourself, but your family as well, and the implications that such a move can have on them, both financially and emotionally.
So what do you do when you find yourself at such a stage in life?
Although the situation you find yourself in can be stressful, now is the perfect time to take stock of your life and re-assign your priorities, understand what you want to focus on, weigh the pros and cons and plan accordingly.
Some helpful tips that can give you an insightful perspective when you find yourself at a career crossroad include:
- Understanding whether your thoughts stem from boredom or an actual urge to get more out of life. It is important to know your achievements and your skills thoroughly and then decide where to head.
- Making a list of all your contacts, so that you can reach out to them if they have gone through a similar phase or are in the line of work which you want to pursue.
- Speaking with people who have successfully had a career transition and understand the implications of it.
- Researching as much as you can, and using online sources, libraries, business associations, trade magazines and one-to-one discussions to arrive at a career plan you want to follow.
- Taking the time out each and every day and working towards making your career plan a reality.
- Taking on short-term jobs or internships in the career line of your choice, to get a feel of what you will be jumping into, in the long run.
- Ensuring that you have talked about the changes with your family, and your support system is solid, to help you through the change.
- Remembering that all the above, may throw up a wide number of choices, and it is up to you to carefully go through each one, to understand where your interests lie and how you would like your career to unfold.
- Applying all the research that you have done, and ultimately using your skills and gut feeling to arrive at a career that you will love doing and what you can be best at.
Finally, when you have arrived at a career crossroad in your life, all you have to do is:
- Take hold of the situation, and do something about it.
- Your ideal job is out there waiting for you. All you have to do is take control of your life and decide to make positive changes in your life and career.
- Don’t let age be a factor in taking this important decision. If you have a structured strategy in place, your experience will always count. As quoted by Jackie Joyner-Kersee, ‘Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind’.
- Get moving on your path, no matter how long it takes.
- Discover and understand your passions. Step out of your core zone, and ask yourself whether your profession matches with your inherent values and passion and also whether they give you a sense of fulfilment. Make a note of your core interest areas and focus on them in-depth.
If the word ‘Art’ for example, gets your pulse racing, then that could point to interest areas like ‘Crafting’, ‘Painting’, ‘Pottery’. This can be further extended to include areas like ‘Creative Designing’, ‘Commercial Art’ etc.
- Get a hold of all your contacts, personal and professional and all the possible resources who will give you a direction of what you want to follow.
- Finally, put your thoughts into action, and don’t be deterred by the results.
- Research on what challenges you will face. Be prepared and armed with your beliefs and decision.
- Set goals as you go. Make a large lifetime goal, and use smaller goals to achieve it.
- Keep deadlines in place, and make them happen. Realistic goals when achieved, ensures that the ultimate goal has not been left to chance.