Last week, Fast Company published an article by Gwen Moran called ‘A 6 Step Plan to Figure Out Your Next Career Move’. This kind of step-by-step advice is incredibly useful, particularly if you’re in the murky world of trying to figure out where you need to go next, or indeed, even what it is that you might be good at.
You should definitely check out that article for more advice and book recommendations, but in the meantime, here’s a quick distillation of the 6 exercises she recommends for people who are soul-searching for their next career move.
Plan your ideal work day
Stop thinking in terms of the bigger picture, and start deconstructing what it is you actually want from your day-to-day. After all, you don’t get to live in the bigger picture! Ask yourself what your ideal day would look like. What kind of work activities do you want to do? What do you absolutely want to stay away from? What kind of people do you want to meet? How would your ideal day be structured? Asking these kinds of questions can help you realise what exactly you want to do.
Start applying “Happiness Rankings”
If you’ve become burnt out or overworked, you may have become a little disconnected from what actually makes you happy. A simple way to reassess how you feel about different aspects of your life is to start ranking everything on a scale of 1 (awful) to 10 (amazing) on how happy it makes you. Notice how you feel about everyday things, like biking to work, or spending time with your colleagues. Anything that ranks above a 7 is what you should start paying attention to.
Also notice what you really dislike
While it’s pleasant to dwell on what you love, it’s just as important to notice what you don’t like or what doesn’t make any sense for you. By observing what you don’t like about your job and your day-to-day life, you can think more clearly about ways to get away from the stuff that brings you down. Finding a positive spin on what you hate is also useful in terms of making your current job more bearable while you look for something new.
Look for clues
Time to play detective! Start breaking down your talents, traits and what builds you up or breaks you down in everyday life. Piece together clues about what would make you happiest or most fulfilled and you’ll start to see a more complete picture of what your next career move might be. Think about your values, and what you find rewarding (or repulsive) at work. By collecting disparate clues, you’ll start to see what’s best for you personally.
Focus on the short- to medium-term
Forget about long-term happy-ever-afters. When you’re thinking about what will make you happy, you need to think in terms of what’s best for you now, and in the near future. Limit yourself to thinking about the next 5 years, and what you’d like to achieve in that time. If you keep thinking about larger #lifegoals you’ll end up paralysed by possibility. Think here, now and soon.
Create a transition plan
Once you’ve completed all your detective work, you should have a clearer idea of what would make you happiest, and where the gaps are between that and your current circumstances. Think about any preparation or training you need to do, and how you can put yourself in the best position. Contemplate financial considerations, and how you can realistically overcome any obstacles between where you are now and where you want to be. Then create a list of tasks, a timeline in which to complete them, and get cracking! The important thing at the end of all this is to take action, and don’t spend too much time on the analysis stage. Real change only comes with activity, so start making it happen pronto!