When approaching mid-life or mid-career, some start considering making a change, asking themselves the question on how to change careers. The prompt for this inquiry could stem from a lack of fulfillment, limited growth or advancement opportunities in their current situation, job dissatisfaction, change in personal circumstances or simply restlessness and the desire for a different career path.
This podcast interview with Angie Callen approaches the question of how to change careers as she has not only gone through the change herself but has developed a coaching system to help others through their journey. There are many fields that are more job focused than career focused such as retail and customer service, food service, manual trades or administrative support. Those are all important and validated positions filled by many who are very satisfied at staying within a job position as it is a safe, comfortable place. It can also provide security with additional benefits.
Callen, as a Carnegie Mellon Civil Engineering grad landed a good job that was developing into a wonderful career, but she wanted a change. Her goal was to pursue a more creative, communicative environment and she obtained that goal. In this article, we expand five important basic principles of how to think, then prepare for change. We then finish with actionable steps on how to make a change.
One: Be Honest with Yourself
Change and transition are hard work. Are you ready for change? If in a job situation that brings benefits and security, what type of change are you considering where you would risk those? It is important to be honest when answering these questions. For many who are in steady job positions, we applaud their consistency and dedication. Those attributes should be rewarded.
There are life situations that require less risk and change, though there are no positions or areas of trade that come without risk. Family obligations, caring for aging parents or even physical challenges create situations that must be acknowledged. Making large changes while balancing challenging life situations creates extra stress that should be considered.
Part of making any change should be the process of asking what one loves to do and how they want to spend their expertise, experience and energy. Taking the time to outline possibilities, including the requirement of time, energy and resources in making a change, is imperative to add reality and reasonableness to the venture.
Two: Don't Accept Mediocrity
Mediocrity became the trigger for Angie making her life change. She couldn’t slug off the feeling that she wasn’t living up to her potential in her job as an engineer. For a personality that is practical, tactical and action oriented, her realization became the foundation for her change. She entered the entrepreneurial world of starting her own business. She was not about to be mediocre, but it took risk. The opposite of mediocrity is not perfection as perfect can be the enemy of done. But perfect wasn’t her goal. Living up her to potential meant being the best she could be. We’ve all seen posts, articles and updates on social media that have taken shortcuts with lack of research, shoddy production and wandering focus. That type of mediocrity wasn’t going to be part of her journey.
There are numerous blog posts and even books that are released with minimal research and sources. Many of them are misleading. I have learned this quite well when doing research for many of my book and article projects and it has been one of my pet peeves. It takes an extra commitment of time and energy to uncover valid data and sources. This type of commitment is especially important if making a change to a more entrepreneurial or creative field. It takes work.
Three: Define Your Core Values
Defining core values should be a requirement for anyone looking to make a change, large or small. What do you really want out of life and what do you want your life to look like? Those values are the beliefs that guide and shape an individual’s behavior, decisions and actions. They serve as a personal compass and represent what someone considers important, meaningful and non-negotiable in their life. They influence relationships, career choices and overall sense of purpose.
I cover core values fairly extensively in the appendix of my book Stop Circling. One’s values, whether defined or not, make up the foundation of a life. That life can either be aimless, or purpose-filled. Examples of core values can include honesty, integrity, compassion, fairness, loyalty and perseverance. This takes self-reflection and examination of what is most important. Free Core Values download.
Four: Develop Industry Knowledge
With technology moving exponentially, especially AI, commitment to lifelong learning has never been more important. There are those like Angie that love to research trends and because of that, she puts out a career economy newsletter every month. Reading well-researched books, publications and reputable online sources should be a commitment for most everyone.
There are many places to develop industry-specific knowledge. Industry events, associations, training courses and even internships and apprenticeships are great places to learn and grow. When I started expanding my business to include speaking and writing, I started attending National Speakers Association events, both nationally and locally. They help speakers build their business and I have found great value in the organization. That is why I’ve consistently carved out time to attend events year after year.
Five: Make Time for Life
Life is a gift and it’s easy to let days, weeks and even years go by putting off what we should do today to tomorrow. However, when our country experienced a couple years of shutdowns, many realized how precious life is and how important it is to set boundaries and prioritize the balance of work and home life.
Type A personalities have a hard time taking breaks. I am one of those personalities. But with even a ten-minute break, my work is usually more creative, flows quicker and is of a quality I will be pleased with later. I have learned to schedule in breaks. It’s worth it!
After considering those five principles, we have five basic steps to follow through as you continue your journey:
- Spend time in self-reflection on what really matters in your life.
- Identify your transferrable skills.
- Define your growth path for skills and experience.
- Build Your Professional Network with those in your desired field. Use social media like LinkedIn.
- Create a measurable and strategic plan.
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- about ANGIE CALLEN
Angie Callen is the founder of the Career Benders, graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Civil Engineering. She practiced in the industry for about eight years and since then did everything from sell bags with a direct sales company, run an art gallery, lead a nonprofit to explosive growth and own a snowboard company. Today, she loves helping people strategize their futures. Whether it’s to creatively position one for a new career, improve management and leadership skills, or design the dream career path , she's there to help you reach your goals.
From engineer to entrepreneur, it is through Career Benders that I live out my passion for inspiring confident professionals and helping others love what they “do.”
There are life situations that require less risk and change, though there are no positions or areas of trade that come without risk. Evaluate risk carefully.
Thought Leader, Keynote Speaker, Author
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