secretQuestion: I am so burnt out and literally loathe my job. I have been dreaming about changing industries for over 2 years and I know I will just keep getting more of the same the longer I procrastinate, but I just can’t seem to take that step forward. I highly doubt I can get what I want in this economy and I don’t have a clue how to go about getting hired in an industry I am not qualified in. Can you help? – George C., Minnesota

Answer: George, I have helped so many people over the years that shared that same story! It is frustrating to be in a rut, but I commend you for thinking about the future – you have taken the first step. Most often, people who are happy and satisfied in their careers are ones who have done some soul searching, figured out what they really wanted, and then did what it took to get them there. – Mary Elizabeth Bradford

How to Begin Creating Your Plan

When first creating your career plan, allow yourself to brainstorm. You must begin to get what’s in your head out on paper, so you can start to come to terms with what’s important to you, what you need to get rid of, and what might be holding you back.

I should mention that money is often the jailer that holds my clients hostage so many times. “I can’t change careers or positions because I really need the money I am making now.” If this is your position as well, I would challenge you to first come up with a plan and a timeline for changing that situation. Even if the goals you map out are a couple of years away, the power of writing down your goals and working toward them – either solo or as a family – is profound.

Sometimes we think we will have to take a pay cut, but guess what? A focused plan for a career transition and a powerfully written functional resume can do AMAZING things for you in the money department. The better you look on paper and the better you interview, the more your potential companies will want you. Often I help clients change industries and they take NO salary cuts AT ALL! They are always amazed.

Tips for Brainstorming

Write out all of the things you dislike about your current and past positions. This is usually an easy one to start with, as most people are really clear on what they don’t like!

Now, throw that piece of paper away. It’s gone. Time to let those things go and focus on what you do want. If this sounds too “woo woo” for you, just wait… you will be surprised how this process helps you to move forward!

Establish Your Career Parameters

Write down your “driving motivators.” These are the two or three things that MUST happen in your next move – they are essentially fixed, such as geography, industry or financial needs. Be honest with yourself.

Next, brainstorm on your secondary career parameters. These are things you would like to have, but it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t get them.

Finally, it’s time to define your dream job. Picture a blank canvas that you can draw any picture that you like on. Crystallize your vision of your dream job by closing your eyes and thinking about what your dream job means to you. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

  • What does it look like?
  • Where are you working? At home, looking out the window at your garden, or looking out at the skyline from your downtown office on the 9th floor?
  • Is the environment cutting edge and fast paced? Highly technical? Is it refined, traditional or academic?
  • What kind of people are you working with?
  • What are you doing?
  • Are you working independently or with a team?

And so on. Treat this as a creative and fun experience. It’s a good idea to send your thought gremlins that tell you all the reasons why you can’t do this on a coffee break so you can have a clear head and an open heart as you begin.

Action

Now identify three things you can do right now to get you moving in the right direction. Do you need to hire a resume writer to help you? Do you need to join an association that will open up a window to the people you need to know in your industry of choice? Do you need to join some groups on LinkedIn that are in your new industry of interest (you can “hide” your groups if you don’t want your current employer to get suspicious)?

Break your goal down into manageable steps. One step builds upon another and small steps lead to change and growth more quickly than we often anticipate!