January is a time of year that many people use to evaluate life and to think about new behaviors they might want to start or stop. But what if you're reconsidering your whole career?
It's a good idea to periodically think about what you've chosen to do with your life, and whether it's still the right path for you. Most people won't keep precisely the same job for their full working life, and those who stay in the same field often find that they want to change job titles or subspecialties.
First, of course, is the question of whether now is the right time to make a decision. You may want to change jobs, but it may be financially impossible. Or your new chosen career may require training or experience that you can't currently obtain. But it's worth doing the research to find out exactly how financial aid works in your area, or to ask about your company's continuing education program or job transition program might work. Sometimes we get used to one kind of work and we're reluctant to even consider a change that might be for the better, simply because change is difficult. You owe it to yourself to find out exactly how possible a career transition is before you rule it out! If you find that it's not feasible to transition right now, don't abandon the idea altogether. Instead, think of it as a delay in your plan. Louis Pasteur put it this way: "Chance favors the prepared mind."
Next, consider your motivation in your career. There are many reasons that people choose career paths, but they fall broadly in a few categories: Compensation; Vocation; and Pleasure. Of course, motivation changes, and most of us fit in multiple categories, but we have one that is primary.
Compensation can come in the form of money, benefits, perks of the job, or even time off. This could be the case for someone who chooses a teaching job so that s/he can be home during the summers, or someone who decides on contract work in order to earn money and be in charge of his/her own career. Compensation motivates most of us to some degree or another, and should not be seen as selfish.
Vocation is another word for a calling. Someone motivated by vocation might go into nonprofit work, but another vocational motivation could be to change an industry for social or political reasons. Many people who choose careers in health and human services are motivated by a sense of vocation.
Pleasure is the idea of working at a job you simply enjoy. You may not enjoy every minute of it, but it gives you pleasure, and you want to work at doing something you enjoy. Many artists and athletes are motivated by the pleasure of their jobs. If you fall into this category, then it's worth it for you to have a job you enjoy rather than a job that might pay more, but be less enjoyable.
Stay tuned for the next part of career transition!