Career change: Where do I go from here?

Career orientation usually focuses on the big dream job, the happy ending approach. The fact is that careers don't make themselves, and plenty of people find themselves in situations where their career, very obviously, is going nowhere fast.

That situation is definitely not in the script, and it's hardly surprising that people find themselves lost with no obvious options. Even highly qualified professionals can be lost in their own professions. The usual reason is a combination of circumstances, normally a job that goes nowhere in career terms, and a lack of immediate obvious outs.

Excuse a somewhat blunt, but practical, approach to the problem, but if this version of your career isn't working, create a new one for yourself. Careers really don't make themselves. The standard hierarchical/mythological approach to a career is largely obsolete. Very rarely, if ever, does anyone start at the bottom and go up in a straight line. People with great careers have usually had a lot of input into how their careers have developed.

It's a bit like playing football or basketball. The guy who's immobile, or less mobile, is out of the game. As far as the play is concerned, they're also out of position most of the time. Opportunities to play at all are drastically reduced.

In career terms, position play is a mindset. Where your mind is, and where your career needs to be, are the two elements in this equation. A plateau in a career is exactly like a position outside play. Not much is happening, or likely to happen. Everything is static. You need a practical way to get moving, as well as a goal to aim for. That means the mindset has to get moving, and to do that you need to figure out what's keeping you immobile.

A job and/or family and financial commitments are the usual, largely incorrect, reasons for career immobility. But these elements can move, given the right combination of conditions. The 'rut' factor is also sometimes considered normal, and the difficulties of getting out of the rut are often overrated.

Career change, getting mobile

There are ways of changing the career mode, and they're all mental.

This takes deep thinking and contrasting views, so try applying inverse logic:

  • Throw out all preconceived notions of a career track.
  • Define totally new career concepts.
  • Consider a new career path, with criteria completely different to the existing one.
  • Determine where the new career path leads.
  • Evaluate career options.
  • Prepare for the difficulty to get on that career path.

Bit different, isn't it? Having defined the issues, your professional experience has cut in and filled in the blanks. You do know how to do it. Check it out, review it and see what you can do. It's now your career, not someone else's script.