Career Change at 30: Part 2

 career verb_headHow to Make a Career Change at 30

1. Get Your Bearings, Don’t Trust Your Interests. Before taking the leap into a new career, get your talent bearings first. To avoid going down a dead-end road, it’s important to be clear about what career paths you’re innately cut out for. Despite what people say, your passions and interests are not an accurate compass; they are only clues to something deeper. Figure out what you’re strongest “natural abilities” are first, passions will follow once you begin the process of mastering your natural talents and strengths.

2. Really, Really Know Before You Go. Hold off on grad school until you know where you’re ultimately going. More education rarely helps people find their career direction. Worldwide, Gallup studies find that very intelligent people, many with advanced degrees, are making career choices that aren’t panning out. More most people, going to grad school is a desperate leap of blind faith; they are essentially marrying a blind date.

Over half of my clients are in their late 30s and early 40s. They are well-educated people who have already attempted changing careers at 30. Even with an expensive graduate degree and a high paying job, most still haven’t found their fit. They made the same mistake twice. It’s difficult to make a good career decision without testing driving a potential career. Get engaged to the career before you go to grad school to marry it.

3. Choose A Problem, Not A Sexy Career Title. The state of the American workplace is dismal; 70% of Americans report that they are not reaching their full potential. Although most parents and teachers say that you can do anything you want with hard work, what they don’t say is how bored you’ll be if you’re not into the subject matter and committed to the problem set of the field you’re in. Thirty percent of my clients are newly minted lawyers that can’t stand the typical day-to-day nature of legal work and don’t care all that much about their client’s problems. They describe their high status, well-paid miserable life as “career hell.”

4. Ignore the Herd. Many of the happiest career changers intentionally ignored pressures from friends and family to stick with their socially prestigious careers. Hot career trends only work for trendy people. An underlying reason for career dissatisfaction is an overly optimistic hope that the crowd knows best. Smart career decision-making is counter to conventional wisdom; people who attain long-term career satisfaction and overall success in life are following their inner compass, even if it means doing something that others deem “impractical.”

5. Don’t Settle and Don’t Fake It. By the time you reach 40-something it gets even harder to drag yourself out of bed to go to a job you don’t enjoy. If you don’t genuinely like your work, it gets increasingly more difficult to stay competitive in your field. Faking an interest in your work causes unhealthy stress that can make you sick and impedes your ability to excel. If you’re considering a major career change around 30, this is the best time to get it right. Changing careers is very doable and will even be invigorating if you’re confident in your direction. In preparation for making a solid career choice, the first question to ask is, “What am I really good at?”

More steps on how to find your career path direction:

Anthony Spadafore, coauthor of the Now What? career choice book for young professionals.  

If the future doesn’t come toward you, you’ll have to go fetch it. ~Zulu proverb