Evaluating Your Career Options. Part 3

Make your own list, and be honest about what’s really important to you. Then as you gain insights about new fields, you can see how each option stacks up. I’ve had clients who have been dazzled by a huge compensation package and have overlooked other important elements. A few months into the new position, they are often miserable and wondering why they didn’t look beyond the paycheck.

It’s also helpful to talk to a career consultant if you are considering making a career change. Someone objective and experienced can give you a reality check to make sure that you have looked at the critical pieces before you commit yourself to a new direction. Once you’ve decided on a direction, you’ll need to think about how to conduct a job search.

Next week’s column will cover the best techniques in job search strategy.

How to Get Un-Stuck
Sometimes, all you know is that you’re miserable and you need a change. All of your energy is going toward coping with your current situation, and it’s hard to take a step back and see other possibilities. Here are some tips if you find yourself unable to move forward:
Take some time off. No matter how busy you are, you need to get away and give yourself the time and space to consider other options. Often clients who go on extended vacations come back and report that they see things much more clearly as a result of gaining some distance from their current situation.

Host a brainstorming party. Invite five to seven friends over and supply them with food and drink. Select people with a range of experiences and include a few unconventional types. Tell the group that you are trying to generate options for your next career. (This also works if you are looking for your next entrepreneurial venture.) Give them information about your skills and interests and the fields you have considered. Set the ground rules that any idea is fair game and outrageous ideas get extra points. You may want to tape record the discussion, so that you don’t miss anything! Avoid passing judgment immediately. A seemingly unworkable idea may be the perfect fit if you look at it from a different angle.

If your current situation is so bad that even a two-week vacation doesn’t give you enough distance to regroup, you may need to leave your job entirely. Figure out whether you can survive financially for a few months and if so, taking some time off is sometimes the healthiest alternative. It also decreases the chance that you’ll jump at the wrong opportunity just to get out of your current misery.

If your dream career seems light years away from your current job, and you can’t envision how to bridge the gap, think about steps you can take to move closer to your chosen direction over time. For example, I recently worked with a lawyer who really wanted to be a journalist. After some counseling confirmed this was a good fit for him, he decided to go after a job as a court reporter. Although he was more interested in writing about sports, reporting on court cases for a newspaper gave him experience in the field of journalism. With this step, he is moving closer to his ultimate goal.

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