How to successfully change careers

Work should be enjoyable. It’s what we spend most of our time doing. It should allow us to develop our abilities and hone our strengths. We should also expect to be suitably remunerated for the efforts that we put in. But making the right career choice is not always easy, not matter if you are at the start of your career or indeed some way through.

When I talk to youngsters about career options, I ask them to answer three questions. These questions are however just as relevant when you are looking to change career later in life as when you are starting out on your journey. They will help you to work out your next career move.

1. What are you good at?

This is not always easy to answer. Many of us don’t really like to focus on what we’re good at and when we’re looking for a career change, it can be very easy to get bogged down with what we aren’t so good at. Take some time to think about this for yourself, but also ask around. You might be surprised by the answers people give you. And this is not just about hard skills, it’s about the more ‘touchy-feely’ skills too – empathy, negotiation, . It is also worth considering those talents that maybe don’t shine quite so bright but are still there but that have been obscured for some time.

2. Do you enjoy it?

This cannot be overlooked. You can be really good at something but absolutely hate it, in which case spending your life doing it is not going to make you happy. Equally, there could be something that you are not quite so good at but that you enjoy and could get better at with practice and training. Giving yourself space to grow in a field you love can be just as rewarding if not more so than doing the thing you already excel at.

3. Who will pay for it?

While it is important to enjoy what you do, work is also about earning money so that you can pay for the life you want to lead. So build a clear business plan of what you want to offer and how it will benefit the person you want to work for, work with or sell to. And then do your research and create a comprehensive list of the people and companies you believe could be interested. Again don’t be afraid to ask around, get other people’s input – it will prove invaluable.

Sometimes it takes time to answer these fully; sometimes it comes together very quickly. What’s important is that, if you are at a crossroads in your career, take some time out to consider these three simple questions honestly and with an open mind. I genuinely believe it will help you take those all-important first steps down a new path. And remember, it’s not yet, it’s the now, so enjoy the journey.