The Career Coach is In

Finding time to change careers


I know my current career is not what I want to do, but I am so busy managing work and family that I never seem to find the time or energy to figure out what it is I want to do.  Where do I begin to uncover what I want to do next in my career?


This is THE struggle for anyone who is already employed and wants to do something different--finding the time.

Changing careers can take a lot of time, but the good news is that you can put in the time required in small increments. You can accomplish a lot with stolen snatches of time--even 20-30 minutes.

You find those 20-30 minutes by identifying a task that is fun--something you WANT to do. There are lots of ways to do this, and plenty of career counseling books full of exercises, but here's one process for jump-starting your thinking about career change:

1. Start by listing 10 or so things that you would love to do if money, qualifications and experience were not an issue. Most people find this fun and it can take less than five minutes.

2. Pick one job from that list that you'd like to explore further. Spend your next little bit of time on the Internet or in the bookstore, browsing. Follow that line of inquiry for as long as it's fun and engaging.

3. Drop this line of inquiry as soon as it becomes something you "should" do. Make a note of how far you got in that line of inquiry and anything you observe about why you lost interest. If you keep pushing yourself to pursue something that isn't inherently interesting, I can promise you, you will stop finding time to do it.

4. Go back to your list and pick something else that is interesting and follow the same process. If you don't like anything on your list, do a new list.

The purpose of this iterative process is to gather data about what engages your interest, as well as about what kills your interest. You may discover, for example, that you drop lines of inquiry out of fear, rather than from a lack of interest. You may find that you keep stopping because you fear that you aren't qualified for a certain job or that you can't make enough money. If that's the case, then the problem isn't that you don't know what you want to do next, but rather, you can't figure out how to go about making the shift.

That's your next challenge and I'll give you some ideas about how to explore a career change in my next post. But do note, with just a little bit of time, here and there, you have gotten started on uncovering the job of your dreams.

And you still have time to get the kids to soccer practice.


Karen Chopra

 |  December 10, 2009; 9:34 AM ET  |  Category:  Career Change , Job Search Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Networking Questions Part II | Next: When interviews net no jobs

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company