How to leave your joyless job for a match made in heaven

If you’re no longer happy with your job, it’s OK to leave it!

These days, it is rare to have a job for life. According to this article by Balance Careers ‘the average person changes jobs an average of 12 times during his or her career.’ However, so many of us hesitate over leaving a long-term position despite finding the work unfulfilling. Although we are highly adaptable creatures, we are resistant to and fearful of change and what that might bring. 

Many, like me, have left a successful career behind and started on a new path because they yearn for something different. They’re looking for something that fulfils their passion and have found the experience exciting, energizing, and not a little scary.

You too could change your job to something you’ll find joyful. Here are the three key steps to finding a job that’s really ‘you’.

1. Discover who you are, what you want and what you have to offer

I often encounter clients who are at a career impasse and have little idea about which new professional path to follow. They are very aware of what they no longer want but may not know what they do want.

Your values: The guiding light towards a new fulfilling career

Instead of seeing this as a risky leap into the unknown, this is an opportunity to make massive progression towards honouring your own values – rather than living someone else’s. Yes, it is daunting and can be quite hard at times. It is also a thrilling roller coaster ride that takes you on an exciting journey towards fulfilment.

Discovering your values

Thinking about their values is something that doesn’t come naturally to many of my clients. Often, they have lost sight of these fundamental principles and need to be reminded of them. 

It is common for my clients to recognise that they haven’t been honouring their values in their professional lives. For example, a client’s principle values could be collaboration and connectedness but they have been working alone with no interaction. Finding a role that enables them to step back into these values can be extremely liberating for them. 

Visualise to find out what’s important

There are many ways to conduct a future life visioning exercise with a client. This might include future pacing inspired by Neuro Linguistic Programming, or asking my client to create a figurative movie of their lives on the big screen. I will watch it with them as they visualise and talk me through their future lives.

Another fabulously simple but effective technique I use with clients is to create a list of what they love and loathe. Especially from a professional standpoint.

Skills – refresh your memory

The skills appraisal exercise is a great reminder to those clients who believe they don’t possess any. They are in fact highly accomplished in many areas—they have just lost sight of the experience they bring to the table. A spider diagram is a great aide-memoire for capturing the skills a client has accrued through their careers. This can then be usefully translated into a CV.

Taking a client through a series of exercises like this can be extremely rewarding. It can help guide clients into manifesting and accordingly establishing a meaningful profession, which they feel passionate about.

2. Uncover the opportunities that are fulfilling, exciting and real

How and where can you discover the type of role that aligns with your values and skills?

While coaching can be instrumental in helping a client find direction, there are other exploration activities which can help you become aware of actual roles or opportunities that exist. Such as:

  • Networking by going to events and targeted meetups
  • Asking people about the industry they work in. Offer to buy them  a coffee in exchange for a chat and have a few key questions ready.
  • Attending courses and workshops
  • Doing lots and lots of reading and listening to audio books.

3. Research in real life

Before you hand in your notice, it’s important to know what it’s like to actually to work in an industry or role you’ve not experienced before. How will you know whether it’s likely to bring professional joy?

My clients have found that an effective way to find out is to offer an internship. You can target an industry or workplace you are curious about and offer your services for free.

Age is no excuse!

It is never too late to do an internship and few companies refuse the offer of free help. In fact, an internship can be mutually beneficial: the organization receives free help from someone who is super keen to learn, grow and develop. While the intern gets a good idea of what it’s really like to work in a new industry. 

In addition, to complement their coaching journey with me, I often recommend that my clients find and work with a mentor who has valuable experience in their prospective career area. A mentor can offer constructive advice and expertise and can sometimes also offer opportunities to shadow them in their workplace.

Making your risk pay

Whether or not they know what new career path to follow, clients might hesitate over whether changing direction is the right thing to do. They fear finding themselves back at the bottom of the professional ladder, earning less than they were used to. That thought can be terrifying, but I will always encourage my clients. If you want career fulfillment, it’s worth retraining in an area you feel passionate about.

Equally, I encourage them to exercise some caution if they are taking a financial gamble in leaving their role by suggesting that they don’t necessarily dive headlong into a new career but test the waters a little by going part-time in their existing job first. 

If they prefer to make the bold statement of quitting their job but still require an income, I might guide them towards finding temp work. A ‘stepping stone’ job can tide them over until they have carved out their new vocation. This way, they can retain an active income while they retrain and search for that job that will bring joy and satisfaction in the workplace.

Alisa Salamon

Alisa is a certified career transition coach based in the UK who helps people carve out a new career or take their existing career to new heights. Email to find out more.

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