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Making a career change


3 steps to help you rediscover your passion and put a game plan in place.

Was your career going to plan for the first few years, but all of a sudden you don’t feel challenged and you’ve lost your passion? Maybe you’ve realised that being a lawyer is nothing like the show Suits. Or perhaps the dream you had to learn your trade has disappeared.


Whatever the reason, this wasn’t what you had envisaged. You’re not sure if you can afford the pay cut that comes with changing jobs or retraining, and you’ve spent a truckload of money and time on study as it is. What if you don’t like financial planning any better than being a teacher?


So now you feel stuck.

Welcome to the quarter life career crisis club. This club has a lot of members.

Most people will have between 3 to 5 career changes in their working life. So, if you’re feeling desperate to try something new, that’s normal. If you also feel like you have no idea where to start, that’s normal too.


Here’s our 3-step guide to navigating a career crisis and making the right change for you.


Step 1: Take time to identify the issue


There are all kinds of problems that can lead people to pursue a career change. And where there is a problem, there is a solution. But so often, we see people make a career change prematurely because they haven’t spent time enough time understanding the problem. Really understanding the problem.


They feel disengaged in their job and make a big career change to fix it. Only to realise that it wasn’t the career that was the causing the headache, it was the culture of the business they were working in that was the real issue.


Making a career change is equal parts exciting and daunting. It’s a big call to make a change like this. So give yourself time to slow down and diagnose the core problem. You can think through the solutions and identify the risks later.


Here are our favourite questions to help you define the problem:

  • What is it about my current role that I don’t enjoy?
  • How do I feel about the business or the team environment that I’m working in? Is that impacting on my job satisfaction?
  • How is the culture in my workplace? Could that be influencing my engagement?
  • What parts of my role do I enjoy, and can I do more of those activities or tasks?
  • If I were the boss, what would I change about my job tomorrow?
Shelley Johnson and Emily Bowen host the my millennial career podcast

Step 2: Discover what energises you

The hardest part of a career crisis is figuring out what you want to do next. This can be quite overwhelming. By focusing on what energises you, you can more easily work out what careers align to you personally.

Think about the times at work when you’ve felt most energised and focused. When have you been in a state of flow? When have you felt most engaged?

Grab a pen and paper and answer these questions: 

  • What are my strengths?
  • What do people ask me to help them with?
  • What comes easily to me?
  • What tasks or activities do I feel most refreshed or engaged by?
  • What tasks or activities leave me feeling depleted or disengaged?
  • What do I value in my job or career?
  • What’s a non-negotiable for me in my work or career?

Once you’ve got your answers, assess careers and job opportunities for a match. Browse job ads on Seek, snoop around LinkedIn, and ask others who have taken different paths to open your mind to what could be possible. You may even like to show your answers to a close friend or family member and ask them for what they think aligns with your personality or values. This is an exercise in crossing options off the list, as much as it is about uncovering your next adventure.


Step 3: Design your career change game plan


Before you make a big move, you need a game plan. This will guide you through the change.


The first ingredient in a good career change game plan is space. Physical and mental space.


Changing careers is not a decision to be made rapidly. It requires time and careful consideration. If you’re like us and struggle to slow down, why not book in some annual leave or take weekend away as part of your game plan. By taking time out, you’ll be able to think through all of your options. You’ll reduce the risk of jumping at the first thing that comes your way.


Next, your game plan needs to address the risks involvedRisk mitigation might not thrill you, but the best plan will identify any big concerns. Then it will seek to reduce or eliminate the impact of these risks.


One of the most common risks associated with a career change is financial. Going from a career that you have established yourself in, to one where you are starting again can often mean a reduction in salary or security. Former Financial Advisor, Glen James of my millennial money podcast, has made three career changes in 15 years – from trade to finance and now to running his own media company. His game plan involved setting up a cash buffer before making any big change. That way his way of reducing the risk and stress that comes with a big change.


For you it might not be a financial risk. It could be the fear of the unknown. Or the need to relocate to a different town. Whatever the risk, by designing your game plan early will help you stay calm and stay ahead.


Emily Bowen and Shelley Johnson are HR professionals and host the my millennial career podcast. For more on making a career change, check out their episode ‘Quarter Life Career Crisis’.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. Information in this article is current as at the date of publication. We do not recommend any third party products or services and we are not liable in relation to them.

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