Written for & published by In Her Shoes Foundation (2013)
By Melissa Doman, M.A.
I can tell you that the word “should” is probably one of my least favorite words in the English language.
Through no fault of our own, because the message is constantly engrained into us from an early age, we follow paths we may not feel passionate about, go towards certain goals because of the acclaim they may give us, or put up with professional headaches because we're told we should and that those actions equate to safety/security. Going along with what we should do after is all is what we are supposed to do, right?
If for many years you have been living your life by the “shoulds” and find yourself feeling unfulfilled, empty, or longing – you may want to listen up to your inner passions and dreams that are screaming to become actualized.
There’s no need to self-criticize for living your life by a should principle. After all, the majority of people do that because we’re told that diverting from that path is scary, unknown, and not of the social norm. Straying away from that norm takes some serious courage, faith, and acceptance in knowing that we aren’t sure what will happen. If there’s a career you’re stuck in that you know in your gut is not right for you, and you find yourself longing for something else constantly, then add some gasoline to that fire in your belly and go after it! I can’t say this emphatically enough: IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO MAKE A CHANGE.
The social construct that we’re in one career for a lifetime is a notion of generations past. Especially for us millenials, having change in our career ideas and goals is not only socially acceptable, but also encouraged in some circles. That being said, if you’re going to shift your ideas of what you want out of your career, be prepared to also shift your expectations and do some serious prep work. With great change must come great patience and dedication. Don’t sell yourself short by convincing yourself that you don’t have the qualifications, experience, or personal drive to try a different role within an organization or even a whole different career field.
If you’re planning to make a career change, the best way you can help yourself is to craft a plan and have some structure to your search. Sit down and do the following:
1. Make a list of what you want in a job.
2. Make a list of what you don’t want in a job.
3. Make a list of what jobs/fields you’re interested in, why, and what steps you need to take to get there (education, training, etc.).
4. Network with people who are in the fields that you want to get into.
5. Talk to recruiters who can help to place you in the jobs you desire.
6. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself and your talents.
7. Have a concise eye-catching resume.
8. Be persistent!
At the risk of sounding trite, you literally only have one life to live, so if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing 40-60 hours a week, it’s up to you and only you to change that. If you feel like you need some additional help, enlist the help of a career coach or look into career assessment inventories (Strong Interest Inventory or Myers Briggs Type Indicator) to help you narrow down and define your professional interests, aptitudes, and values.
As uncomfortable and challenging as a career change process may be, it’s less painful than the potential resentment that can build over time from not pursuing your passions.