Let’s be honest here. When people say “change is scary,” they most likely describe something temporary, such as changing hairstyles. More significant life changes, like changing careers, can be paralyzing. Your job impacts everything in your life, from your ability to pay bills to how much time you have available for your friends and family.
Professional Coach Christie Mims points to fear as the main factor preventing us from finding our dream jobs. She describes it as a mental block that keeps us saying, “I just don’t know what I want to do.”
So, how do you move past that to find your dream job? With a solid plan, of course.
We’ll show you how to conquer your fears by narrowing down ideas, doing research, and creating an actionable plan. When your inner voice (and perhaps your mother) see that you have an organized path, they’ll start to calm down.
Brainstorm Your Interests and Passions
Get out a piece of paper and write down what excites you—your passions, interests, and audacious goals. Don’t limit these to your current hobbies. As with any brainstorming session, set a time limit and don’t censor yourself. Below are some questions to help get your ideas flowing.
- Did you have any internships that you loved?
- What classes did you take in high school or college that you excelled at?
- What hobbies do you pursue?
- Are you passionate about animals, the environment, travel, etc.?
- Have you always wanted to be a writer, photographer, or creative?
- When in your life have you felt the proudest of an accomplishment?
- How do people describe your work performance? Your personality?
More: How to Create a Meaningful Career
Brainstorm Your Ideal Work Environment
The second list you’ll brainstorm is your ideal work environment. Describe what you dream about when you consider your work-life (rather than the actual role itself).
- Do you enjoy working in a team environment, or do you prefer autonomy?
- Would you enjoy being a leader, or do you prefer only to be responsible for yourself?
- What does your ideal schedule look like?
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
- Would you enjoy an alternative schedule?
- Do you want to move to a fully remote role?
- Does stress mow you under, or do you thrive on deadlines?
- What is the minimum salary that you can accept?
- What do you like most about your current role? Least?
Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of traveling the U.S. in an RV while working remotely. Write that down. Or, maybe you love the camaraderie of stopping by a coworker’s desk in a large office? These are essential factors in finding your ideal job.
Compare Your Lists
Create your top nonnegotiables for your work environment. Now, compare that to your list of passions and interests. You should be able to start narrowing down some of your job options here.
Suppose you like the challenge of juggling multiple priorities, you’re extraordinarily organized, enjoy working with a team, and want to work while traveling. Even if you don’t have the exact job title, you just described some specifics about what it is you’d love to be doing.
Now that you’ve started to narrow down your options, you’ll get even closer to defining a dream role by getting organized. Perhaps it’s not exactly what you’ll be doing, but what it allows your life to be that is important.
Consider why you want to make a career change. Are you looking for greater flexibility? A higher salary or more responsibility? Use job search sites, such as FlexJobs, to find new roles that meet your criteria.
You should start to see patterns and a few top job ideas emerge. When a role looks interesting to you, do some research on what a day in real life looks like. Read reviews on Glassdoor, find podcasts, and read interviews from those who hold the role.
Use local and virtual networking opportunities to meet professionals in that role. Find social media groups for that role, or connect on LinkedIn with current professionals. Ask them for 20 minutes of their time. Explain that you’re considering moving to that field and are looking to get their feedback. Research them first, so they feel like you’re coming prepared.
List Your Skills
As you get down to the final three roles, start listing your transferable skills. Read job descriptions to see where you might fall short and need some training or new certifications. Do you have the time or funds to make that happen? That might help you decide between some different fields. Can you stay in your current job and volunteer, or get an internship to close the gap? A career aptitude test can also help you figure out which careers you might thrive in.
Speaking of staying in your current role, perhaps what you’re looking for is a different role or a different company within the same field. When you start to define your dream role, maybe you realize that you are seeking a company whose visions align more closely with yours. Perhaps you thrive on volunteering and want to work for a company that supports that.
Create a Plan
Your final step is to create a career change plan. Now that you’ve found a dream job that you are focused on, you can create a plan to get you there, creating a more easy transition.
Perhaps that means getting training or finding an internship. Maybe it’s working with a career coach, tweaking your resume, or overhauling your LinkedIn profile. Realistically, it’s probably all of those.
Once you’ve brainstormed your ideal role, identified your nonnegotiables, and organized your search into a step-by-step plan, you’ll be well on your way to finding your dream job.
Are you looking for a remote, work-from-home, or flexible job? Whether you’re a data analyst, copywriter, project manager, or you’re still finding the right job for you, our partner site FlexJobs can help you find great remote, work-from-home opportunities.
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