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Many things change over the years, including friends, jobs and even spouses.   With many life-changing events, our career may not have always been a priority.

However, it's the one thing that with effort, dedication and consistency can be a lucrative and satisfying part of our life. 

If you have let that part of your life, go or have recently realized your career needs your attention, then evaluate your goals and develop a new plan for making it the career you always wanted.

What's changed?

Life is a constant cycle of changes.  But some of these changes start us thinking about our past, problems, needs and future.  They're major life changes like marriage or divorce, having children, loss of a loved one, a new or worsening health problem, moving or job loss.  Any of these issues can cause us to reconsider our current career and possibilities to improve it.

Once we realize what's brought our current career to our attention, we are able to break down what the changes mean.  A new child could mean a fear we aren't making enough to secure our child's future.  A move could raise concerns that we will not be able to earn the same in a new community or state.  A divorce could mean our whole world has been split in two parts and our current income just isn't enough.

While it may seem like most changes revolve around money, it's also really important to recognize when the issues are not monetarily motivated.  It's easy to tell ourselves we want a career change because we don't make enough money, but really, when do we really ever make "enough" of that? 

No.  It's not always about the money, that's just a big part of it.  The other part may be that we selected a career when we were younger, maybe more idealistic or less aware of all that life was going to throw at us.  Times have changed.  Now, we want more.  More respect, happiness, job satisfaction, challenge or security.  Regardless of what it is, we need to figure it out and take some risks to make improvements.

Knowing what you want

When we were younger, we are encouraged to consider top paying industries and careers.  Perhaps we were good at science, language arts or math and a very nice, well-meaning teacher encouraged us to pursue our dream job utilizing these disciplines.  We did.

Years later, life happened. Some of us finished our post-secondary education and began our careers and some of us dropped out to make a living.  Regardless, many of us end up in the same places.  Maybe some make a little more, others work a little less; but most of us have had plenty of time to decide if we like what we do for a living.

But how do you know what is wrong with your current job?

Sometimes our job is just a job.  We are good at it.  It pays the bills and at the end of the day we go home without any "positive emotional money" banked. We don't feel challenged with achievable goals.  We feel undervalued and despite our abilities to complete our tasks with efficiency and professionalism, our job will never be the career we want.  It's just tasks, duties and expectations.  Maybe the pay is acceptable, but the job, in consideration to our pay, is not.

How do you know what you really want to pursue?

So many career opportunities exist on the basis of great pay, high-demand and long-term growth.  But what's right for you?  You need to figure out your strengths, experience and interests.  Don't just choose something you're good at or only on the basis of potential.  You can have both. 

e.g., If you excel in technology, mathematics and science, but love history and law, you could pursue a career in criminal justice with emphasis on cybersecurity or network security analyzation.

Take Action 

  • Choose what you like to do.  
  • Apply what you're good at. 
  • Consider careers that employ the combination of both.
  • Reduce the selection by eliminating careers that don't provide an acceptable median salary and current demand for jobs in those career choices.  

Upon selecting a career that meets your expectations, strengths and interests, you'll want to speak with professionals that can assist you in implementing a plan.  These professionals can guide you through the process of launching your new career. 

They may include local professors, guidance counselors, financial aid administrators, business consultants, economic development executives, local business professionals in your prospective fields of study, etc. 

Think constructively and objectively about all aspects of a career of interest.  Don't just seek the answers or people that positively influence a decision for a costly education or training for a career that doesn't meet the requirements needed for your happiness and financial needs.  Instead, be realistic and impartial when honing in on the right career.  The more you speak with numerous professionals that have some perspective on your new future career, the more it will broaden your own perspective for long-term potential the career can provide (or not). 

Consider shadowing (follow and observe a trained professional) for a few days to understand the typical "day in the life" of someone in that field.  Usually, a shadowing opportunity is available at most companies for their employees when considering a transfer.  Sometimes it can be arranged through educators who have job-placement relationships with local organizations; but this is less common until you have reached the final months or year prior to graduating or when an internship is being considered.

Disregard any career you researched if it does not meet your complete expectations.  The right career is out there.  Settling for another job you won't like is not worth pursuing.   

Don't assume every career out there that has great potential pay and demand requires a four-year degree.  There are many careers that don't require a degree and/or only require certificate training or 2-3 years of education.  

Once you identify what you're good at, what you like and what you need (to include: reasonable demand in your metro area, good pay and attainable education or training) get started with the education and career training as soon as possible.  Take a look at our Career Challenge Special Section in our Summer/Fall Issue of Starting Over Magazine to jump-start your new quest for a better career and life.  

Don't let anything or anyone change your mind.   Be dedicated to pursuing your career, a better life and professional success!  

You may also like to read our articles: 

Education guidance plan for busy adults

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