/ Take Two

Take Two

Jul 07, 2013

Sometimes a career reboot is in order. Is changing your gears the right move for you?

Careers, do they even exist anymore? Job market numbers remain stagnant, leaving very little room for growth for professionals who wish to expand their horizons. But what happens when unexpected changes occur or you discover the path you chose is no longer the right one?

According to a survey by Right Management in 2012, five per cent of the 700-plus employees polled in North America said they will remain in their current position (no change from 2011), eight per cent said they might remain (a one per cent decrease from the previous year), and a resounding 86 per cent said they plan to actively look for a new position in 2013 (a two per cent increase from 2011).

After seven years working as a social service worker, Wendy Defreitas returned to university to pursue a degree in interior design. “I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing,” Defreitas says. “It became very frustrating and I needed a more creative avenue.” Now a university graduate and interior designer, Defreitas is in control and uses her creativity and expertise to run her own interior design business. “The [interior design] business can be demanding,” Defreitas says. “So starting my own business gave me greater flexibility and balance.”

While there are no statistics to show how often a professional switches careers, there are indicators that signal we need a change. “If you start to feel that you are constantly walking uphill, you’re not enthusiastic, not looking forward to going to work [and] constantly feel the world’s against you, it could be a potential sign you are walking down the wrong road,” says personal and business coach Caird Urquhart, the president of Newroad Coaching in Toronto.

Although certain factors keep you in a job — whether you need the money to support a family or it’s a means to an end to supplement your journey on a new path — there are tools you can use when deciding the next step in your journey.

Change is Good

“Change is very scary to most people and right away all the negative talk is going to jump out in front of you to tell you all the reasons why it’s not going to work,” Urquhart says. “Part of my job is to get rid of that.” You’ve probably heard this plenty of times, but we can be our own worst enemies. Here’s the thing: we’re not perfect, and change is good. “I always work on what their fear threshold is,” Urquhart explains. “How they are getting in their own way. Everybody has a place where they get cut off at the knees.”

Take a Risk

It sure is a heck of a lot easier said than done, but at some point you’ll need to assess how much risk you can afford to take. “If you have assets or people to take care of, it’s good know what your financial risk threshold is,” Urquhart says. “I always call it the ‘pumpkin date.’ When do you turn into a pumpkin [or] run out of money?”

“If you can live for a year without working another day, then you have a little bit to play with in order to change careers. [If] you’re risk adverse and don’t want to take any risk at all, you’re going to go into it overtime.”

Create a Plan

Every major decision deserves to be carefully thought out, planned and executed. Coming up with a two-to-three-year plan to help you part ways with your old job and start a new career provides you time to go over likes and dislikes, Urquhart suggests. “Name the things that drive and define you. Pick your top five, then start making decisions based on those [values],” she says. “If you’re honouring your values it’s going feel like, ‘I’m swimming with the current of my life.’ If I’m stepping away from those values, it’s going to feel like drudgery and not really [going to] excite [you] so much.”

Do You Measure Up?

All the skills gained from your initial career are essential to your next move. “[You] want to look for transferable skills,” Urquhart says. “Figure out what you bring to the table [and] what makes you different from everybody else.”

It sounds simple, but entering into a specialized field can be very competitive. Between Canada, the U.S. and the U.K., the job market numbers continue to hold steady. According to Statistics Canada, in April 2013 the unemployment rate remained stable at 7.2 per cent from March’s 0.2 per cent increase. In the U.S., the Department of Labor reported no changes to the unemployment rate at 7.5 per cent (a 0.4 per cent decrease from January 2013). As for the U.K., the Office for National Statistics indicates the employment rate for those between the ages of 16 and 64 was 71.5 per cent (0.2 per cent down from October to December 2012).

Time for a Coach

A major transition can leave you feeling overwhelmed or stuck. Know when to seek an expert opinion. Uncovering the truth behind what’s really holding you back often requires an unbiased perspective. “All my coaching has some level of self-esteem/worth component to it,” Urquhart explains. “It doesn’t matter if you are the grad student or the 45-year-old exec, there’s always a self-worth/self-esteem piece holding you back.”

A second career doesn’t mean you got it wrong the first time. It’s an opportunity to start a new journey and possibly leave an old one behind.



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