If you are unhappy at work it may be because your major career decisions were made for the wrong reasons. This is very common, especially when you consider that many of those decisions are made at a very young age, when you had little experience of the world outside school or college. In addition, the careers advice you were given was probably brief and possibly delivered by someone with little training. Added to this, your parents may have encouraged you to get a good job, brushing some of your own ideas as unrealistic. And they probably paid for your education and so after years of training for a specific career, you feel you're stuck with it.
Now you have bills to pay, sometimes even a mortgage to repay, along with a family who rely on you for support. With so much stacked against you, how can you possibly even think about changing careers?
It might be better to ask: "How can you not think about changing careers?" It may seem selfish to put yourself first, but if you are not happy, chances are your family will not be either. So the first step is to admit to yourself that you need a change and the second is to start investigating the possibilities.
Look at the aspects of your current and past jobs that you have enjoyed. If you really do not enjoy anything you are doing now, write down the things you hate most and look at the alternatives. So if you hate being cooped up in an office, where would you rather be – in the countryside, working in a hospital or school, traveling between different cities or countries? If you hate number crunching would you rather be working with children, writing, painting or designing web sites?
Next consider your dreams. What would you secretly like to be doing and what is stopping you from doing it?
Then write down all the skills you would like to use in a job, staring with existing skills and adding new skills you would like to learn.
By now you should have some idea of the types of jobs which would fit in with your preferences. The next step is to research these, to find out which might be suitable. You also need to discover which qualifications are necessary and how you could get them. If you need to retrain, you should look at funding options and also part-time study.
Changing career requires effort, but think about the alternative – another 20 or 30 years of boredom and frustration. The internet has made is much easier to move into a new industry nowdays, offering distance learning courses in many subjects and also providing new opportunities to work at home, either for yourself or for a company.
© Waller Jamison 2007