You’re looking for the ‘one’. If you could just be sure that what you’ll have with them is true love, you know you could go all in…
Wait, what? Are we talking about love, or career change?
Don’t worry. You haven’t inadvertently landed on a dating site.
I see you. I know that when it comes to your career change, you’re paralysed.
You can see some possibilities, some of them even have some real potential, but you don’t know how to know if any of them are the right one.
How do you narrow down your career ideas? How do you feel sure?
Until you know, how can you be sure you’re not making a huge mistake and trapping yourself in another career you end up wanting to escape from?
And because, like all of us, you don’t have an actual f****** crystal ball that could help you to answer this question, you’re stuck.
“If I just had a career in mind, I could get started.”
I hear variations of these from career changers ALL THE TIME.
And so I’d love to share with you what I share with them, as well as a simple, incredibly powerful process for narrowing down your career ideas, so that you can find the clarity you’re looking for BEFORE you even think about handing in your notice.
But, before we begin, there’s something you NEED to know.
You’ve got it all backwards, sweetcheeks
Clarity doesn’t precede action. It’s the other way around.
Waiting to feel clear before you begin is like agonising over whether a person whose profile you’ve just spotted on a dating site is the person you should marry.
There’s a process that’s required, during which clarity emerges.
In fact finding the career that’s the right next step for you is a lot like finding the perfect partner. The parallels are uncanny.
And there’s a lot you can learn from this analogy about how to narrow down your career ideas.
To narrow down your career ideas, take them out for coffee
A new career is quite the commitment.
When it comes to romance we know not to take that lightly.
But for some reason, in career change we apply pressure on ourselves to have certainty about our new career direction incredibly early in the process.
So we don’t allow the ‘dating process’ to happen.
And that’s a problem, because how on earth will you know if you have the same values, if sparks are flying for you in your new field, if you haven’t actually spent any time together?
But there is a way to ‘date’ your career ideas.
It looks a lot like this…
Think about how you could get a taster session in the field or role you’ve got your eye on. This could include:
- Shadowing someone working in the role for a day
- Having a chat with someone who’s already doing it
- Going to an event that’s all about the industry or sector you’re interested in
- Organising a workshop for a few friends
- Trying out the role as best you can, from home
Interested in mindfulness? Offer to run a virtual workshop with a few interested colleagues and see how it feels.
Want to be a writer? Set yourself a brief, of the kind you’d love to have, with a deadline, show up to ‘work’, and get it done.
Intrigued by social enterprise? Let a few trusted friends know what you’re exploring, and see who they know who works in that field. Reach out and ask their suggested contacts for a 20-minute chat about what they do.
Want to run your own fashion business? Shadow someone who’s already done it (even over Zoom!) and see what it’s like.
See? You take your idea out for a coffee. Get to know them. See if you want to get to know them better.
Don’t plan the wedding after the first date
If you have a first date with a career idea, and it feels like sparks are flying, you arrange a second date.
You don’t start planning the wedding.
You know you don’t have to fast forward five thousand steps. You can just enjoy the exploring and the getting-to-know-them part.
And it’s the same when you’re testing out your career ideas.
Do you and your new career idea share the same values? How do you feel when you’re around them?
Do you feel any gut-level red flags, or do you find you’re buzzing after spending time with them?
This stage looks like planning lots more taster experiences of your career idea. Whatever taster idea you ran for your first date, this time do something different. Get a different perspective.
I often hear clients saying that they feel worried at this stage, because speaking to actual people in their field, or shadowing someone, when they don’t know if they’re actually going to commit to the career in question, feels uncomfortable.
It makes them feel all squirmy inside.
Is this you too?
Because let’s take a moment to think about this.
Would you marry someone you’d never met, who you’d only read about online?
Do you think that someone would try to trap you into marriage before you’d had a chance to get to know them?
Would you feel uncomfortable about going on a date with someone, in case they expected marriage?
Babes. You’re a grown up, with the ability to say no.
If the date doesn’t go well, you’re going to say some variation of: “It’s been great to meet you and get to know you. I’m not feeling the connection I’m looking for, though I wish you all the luck in the world finding the right person for you.”
Am I right?
And it’s the same with exploring your career ideas. No one’s going to try to trap you, if it doesn’t feel right. There’s no obligation created by the date.
You’re ALLOWED to own your uncertainty.
Tell them you don’t have all the answers, that you’re still exploring, but that you know there’s something really intriguing for you about X line of work, and that you’d love to know more about whether it could be a good fit.
You have every right to test the water.
So get out there and do it.
Date lots and date often
At this stage, you and your career idea might not be exclusive. That’s OK!
Keep all your ideas in play. Date ALL of them.
And what’s more, go on LOTS of career dates. Get them booked in quickly, always have new ones in the pipeline, and be thinking about who you’d like to date next.
Finding a career you want to commit to is, like online dating, often a numbers game.
You go on 10 first dates. You want to go on second dates with 3 of them.
Out of 10 second dates, you’re keen to continue dating 2 or 3.
Of those, you choose to become exclusive with 1.
The more first dates you can have, the more likely you are to find a career idea that you fall in love with.
And that’s how you refine and gradually narrow down your career ideas.
Kiss frogs to learn more about your prince
Furthermore, every mismatch you find is going to give you good quality information about what you ARE looking for, and what you’re not.
Real-world, actually experienced information, instead of basing your decision making on assumptions, what you’ve heard about them from your best mate, or your mum’s concerns.
Perhaps you learn that primary school teaching isn’t for you, or that agency marketing doesn’t connect with your soul in the way you’d hoped.
But it may be that there’s appeal in having an element of teaching in a future role, or in helping brands to get their message out in other ways.
Every frog of a career idea you ‘kiss’, will help you to learn more about your what your prince / princess is going to look like, and lead you one step closer to finding them.
Because every time you go on a career date, you learn something about what you want, and what you don’t, and you can use this to refine, tweak and narrow down your career ideas.
There are plenty more career change fish in the sea
Like in the world of romance, there’s often a myth perpetuated about careers that there’s one dream thing that you’re supposed to do forever.
And while that can be true for some, for most it’s not the case.
There are actually multiple lines of work that could be an incredibly good fit for you.
So, if the one you have your eye on turns out to be not the match you’d hoped for, that’s OK.
You never know, maybe there’ll be something about this one — a quality or characteristic — that shows up somehow in another career idea that is a much better match.
There’s not only one thing, one soulmate career, out there for you.
There are plenty more fish in the sea.
To narrow down your career ideas, listen to your heart (and your body)
At the end of the day, finding a career that feels like a powerful fit for you and finding someone you want to commit to a long-term relationship with have something in common that the traditional world of ‘career’ tends to overlook.
You feel yourself falling in love.
Do you feel that giddy, warm sensation that leaves you wanting to spend more time with your career idea?
Do you have more energy when you get home from seeing them? Or do you feel drained?
Do you like the person you get to be when you’re with them?
Can you feel the connection you have with them in your body, as well as you mind?
If you can answer yes to more than one of these, you’re onto something interesting — whether we’re talking about a potential partner, or finding work that you look forward to on a Monday morning.
That’s how you narrow down your career ideas. That’s how you zoom in on work that feels like an incredible fit for you.
And how do you really know, for sure?
Listen. Because you might really need to hear this.
None of us EVER get to 100% certainty.
But you’ll find that you want to move forward anyway.
That’s the thing about love, and career change. Once you’ve taken the time to build trust, you WANT to take the leap of faith it takes to go all in.
You may not be able to predict exactly where your future with this career will take you, but you’ll want to find out.
If you’d like help with finding your perfect career partner, I can help. Check out my Elite Squad VIP 1:1 programme. Find out more and book your free, no-obligation discovery call here.