There was something about the way "Super fly" Jimmy Snuka jumped from the third rope of the wresting ring onto his opponent that made me want to be a professional wrestler. I couldn't wait to become a star of the wrestling ring.
But when I shared my dream with adults, I was told that girls weren't born to be wrestlers. That was a boy's job. I remember becoming upset and saying, "But I'm a tomboy. Can't tomboys be wrestlers?" and the universal answer was no, not even tomboys can be wrestlers.
Any lingering dreams I had of being a professional wrestler quickly disappeared the day my cousin put me in a figure-four leg lock, a very painful wrestling move. However, the experience of being told I couldn't fulfill my career goals due to my gender has remained with me till this day.
As a professional who deals with career issues every day, I have come to realize that my story isn't unusual. Though the reasons vary, countless other people's childhood dreams have been squashed by well-meaning adults. I am one of the lucky ones who found my way to a gratifying career; others are still searching for their perfect work.
If you are one of those people who want to change careers but find the thought overwhelming, you are not alone. That feeling is understandable, since most likely you spent many years on acquiring an education and/or honing your craft to just give it up midstream--even if you are unhappy.
Like most life changes, a career shift requires introspection--an examination into where you have been and where you want to be. If you find that you are dissatisfied with your work, asking yourself the following questions can helpful in your journey to a satisfying career.
◊What is my current job description? What is my ideal job description? What are the differences between the two? What are the similarities?
This exercise is a good starting point because it will force you to scrutinize your current job responsibilities and how they relate to your overall career goal.
◊What do I like best about what I do? What do I like least? Of what I like to do best, are those skills transferable into other fields?
The trickiest part of changing careers is to decipher how your experience relates to another industry or field. Sometimes the answer is clear. Other times, it may take more work to determine how your job-related and marketable skills will appeal to a new area of practice.
◊In which job(s) was I the most content? The least content? Why?
After this task you will be able to identify what motivates you and what burns you out in a job. Motivating factors are skills that you may or may not be proficient in, but that you do enjoy performing. Burnout factors are skills you may or may not be proficient in, but don't enjoy performing.
◊What aspects of my personality can hinder (or have hindered) my career growth?
This is an important question to ask, since your personality and the way you communicate with others can determine how successful you are or will become.
◊Am I willing to trade in my "Mercedes" for a "Chevrolet"?
Most of the time, changing careers means you must take a pay cut. And when you take a pay cut, your lifestyle changes. Take the time to review your financials. Determine whether you are willing to live without the two vacations a year or going out to dinner every Saturday night.
You may find that a complete transformation may take a while. You may need additional training or education, or you may need to take an entry-level job to position yourself for success in the path of your new career. A career change takes resilience, confidence, and most importantly, patience.