Risking reinvention

10 Apr 2014
POSTED BY Y Magazine

What does it take to bust out of a rut and break into a dream career or make a fresh start? Tom Robertson investigates 

You’re bored with the same old route to the office everyday. You can do it in your sleep and know every bump in the road. You’re tired of ordering that same old limp salad from the little restaurant by the office. And when you gaze out the window, all you see is the same tired view that greets you – every day of your working life.

Whether you’re sat in the latest ergonomic design of Herman Miller office furniture, or behind the wheel of a JCB, there comes a point when some people say enough is enough – a total change is needed. No matter the obstacles, a career makeover is required for a new professional you. But if necessity is the mother of invention, then what is the father of reinvention?

Speaking from my own personal experience and with the gift of hindsight, I knew there was something that was driving me towards a complete career change. And it had to be significant, because, to the outsider, I was as happy as a bear with a jar of honey.

As a political adviser, the subjects I was working on were interesting enough and I loved working with my colleagues and the politcians. My daily commute to the European Parliament was, according to Google maps, just 700 metres, a pleasant stroll in my tailored loafers. Plus there were all the holidays you could dream of, thanks to a significant amount of leave every year. I had no boss to micromanage me and was free to manage my own time and tasks. Life, in general, was good – but work wasn’t. Why? And what was it that drove me to seek a total career change?

I had an itch. And that itch was this – someone once told me: “If you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work another day in your life.” So here I sit, on the weekend, writing this article, but never at any point feeling as though it’s a chore. And it’s that feeling that I knew I was after. In my former job, I had written articles and speeches occasionally, and I knew that it was writing that I genuinely enjoyed. But it was occasional, and I knew that if I could write for a living, then that would be the career for me.

But it’s not an easy thing to do. First, you’ve got to know whether you really want to change careers at all. According to career experts, there are a number of things that can help you to decide whether you truly want to start over. “You might come to a point where your salary no longer makes up for the boredom and emptiness you feel,” says Kathy Caprino, who runs a leadership and career success coaching and consulting firm. Other factors she points to include feeling that your work doesn’t suit your natural talents and abilities, as well as feeling constantly depleted and exhausted by work.

So how exactly can we go about making such a radical change? Start by assessing what you really want to do – “And that means looking at what work you would do even if you weren’t paid for it,” says Alexandra Levit, author of New Job, New You. But that’s just one question that needs adressing. Changing your profession is a process of asking some very honest questions and preparing yourself for some brutally frank responses.

For while you may have found out what you want to do, you need to ask yourself, ‘What can I offer?’ It’s a question that applies equally to those seeking to change careers or those wanting to break out and start a venture on their own.

“When thinking of quitting one’s job and starting a career or new business, you must carefully answer the following: ‘What passion and skills set do I have which I can leverage into a new business?’” says William R Crew, CEO of Inspired Solutions in Muscat. “People should also ask, ‘Am I fully prepared to work much, much harder and longer hours than I did with my job? Is my family supportive of this?”

But if you can get beyond the potential pitfalls of risking reinvention, such as losing faith in the long term and not having a concise game plan, the rewards can be great, says Crew: “One of the great things about finding a new career is gaining a new confidence that comes with utilising skills which may have been lying dormant or underutilised in one’s job.”


Plan ahead thoroughly

“A well thought out, revised and reviewed – and further revised – feasibility study is critical. Ask yourself ‘What research have I conducted that has led me to conclude that this is a good idea? Do I have a concrete skills set for the business or career I want to start?’ and ‘Am I fully prepared to work much, much harder and longer hours than I did with my last job?”

William R. Crew, Inspired Solutions LLC, Training and Consultancy, Muscat

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