The idea of career reinvention is nothing new. It’s an annual tradition for some people. I used to make a New Year’s resolution every year to “figure out what I want to be when I grow up.” Luckily, I got to cross that one off the list a few years ago!
But, truth be told, career reinvention is a continuous process for most people. We’re all constantly growing and changing, so our professional goals have to be regularly re-evaluated and tweaked to keep up. Otherwise, what used to make us happy will soon make us miserable.
Of course, career reinvention doesn’t always have to be dramatic. Sometimes, minor adjustments can have a major impact. The process itself doesn’t change though, whether you’re in need of a serious career overhaul or a minor makeover.
The figure below describes the process I use to help people in the process of career reinvention. It’s adapted from the book Finding Your Perfect Work: A New Career Guide to Making a Living & Creating a Life by Paul and Sarah Edwards.
This is the stage in which you imagine what you want and begin to create different scenarios and predict possible outcomes. Most of us do this naturally. When we talk to our friends about work, we imagine what it would be like in their shoes. We think, “Would that make me more happy or less happy professionally?” We constantly envision the future and where we’ll be.
This is the stage in which you begin testing different ideas and make wild leaps of thought to see what sticks. It involves research and testing the waters. This is a critical phase of the process that is often overlooked.
The last two stages are where many people get stuck.
This is the stage in which you consider the reality of making specific decisions (like quitting your current job or accepting a new job), and you thoughtfully weigh the pros and cons. It can be easy to wallow around here, hemming and hawing and waiting for the “right” answer to simply appear…but it seldom does. You have to be willing to take calculated risks while also trusting your instincts.
This is the stage in which you set goals and begin making progress towards achieving those goals. This is the one-foot-in-front-of-the-other DO IT phase of career reinvention. It can be scary, uncomfortable and exhausting. But without this final phase, nothing is truly accomplished. This can also be a long phase in which many people lose motivation.
As the figure above suggests, this is an ongoing process. There’s never really a point where you’ll sit back, relax and enjoy the awesome career you’ve invented. A career isn’t a stagnant thing. It has to keep up with you and the world as a whole, and that takes a serious investment of time and energy on your part.
We’re always going through career reinvention, in big ways and small, making adjustments to find and maintain fulfillment. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy or natural. Sometimes, you need a helping hand to guide you, keep you on track and help you maintain forward movement.
If you’d like a little support during your next phase of career reinvention, please take a few minutes to learn about my group coaching program called Reinvent Your Career.