I want a complete change but have no idea where to start!

I am at a total loss career wise. I was a successful manager took redundancy and since (last 7 years) I have drifted in a job that doesn't fulfill me. I want a complete change but have no idea where to start. Help!!!

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How frustrating to end up in a job that isn’t fulfilling after doing so well – no wonder you’re ready for a change! Of course, every challenge also holds opportunity so you are probably on the verge of something new and exciting. It’s all to go for!

When you’re urgent for change, it’s tempting to rush away from what’s bad, rather than towards something good and new, because you’re not absolutely sure what good and new would look like. So the first and most important step is to undertake an honest assessment of what you want and what you need in order to feel satisfied in your life and work. Once you get this clear, my guess is that opportunities will present themselves and you’ll finally find what you’re looking for.

Some questions for you to consider:

  • What do you need - start by listing exactly how much money you need to earn in order to live the life you want. Work out your budget, including holidays, social, household bills etc, so you know exactly is needed each month.
  • Review your skills - now look back over the job that you did so well. Why were you such a good manager? Are you a star with the people or do you excel in the organizational side? How did you deliver results through your people? What did they like about working with you and what would they have liked to change? Be really honest with yourself so you can get clear exactly what you have to offer to a new employer.
  • What do you want – think about yourself now seven years on. Do you still want to work with a team? Does management still appeal? What sort of business attracts your interest eg: charity, private sector, public sector? Any particular products or services? Remember this may be different to what you did before. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since you last enjoying work, so feel free to go wide on this one.
  • Where are you going - now go even wider. Think about the next three to five years. What do you want life to look like? Forget the detail, imagine you’re painting a watercolour - just go for a rough impression. What will life look like, feel like and sound like in five years? If you don’t know where to start, look through some magazines and pull out pictures or words that grab your attention. Put them altogether into a collage and write down the themes that come through.

If you find yourself getting stuck, go talk with the family, friends or colleagues who really care about you – and who will speak honestly. Chat through the questions and your thoughts; you may have some realisations as you hear yourself talk out loud. Then ask for their take - they will have thoughts, insights and some useful ideas. Listen to them all, take them away to think about, but only follow their suggestions if they feel right for you.

By now you’ll have a much clearer idea of what you want and what you have to give, so take a fresh look at the job market. Don’t restrict yourself – get really curious about what you might be able to do, with your freshly recognised talents. Let your collage guide you and see what appeals.

Now here’s the big one - play ‘spot the blockage’ - what excuses roll of your tongue to stop you getting out there?

  • They won’t want me………..
  • I could never do it…………
  • I don’t know enough………

Given you’ve spent seven years marking time, your confidence is likely to be on the low side. As soon as you spot yourself findings reasons why not, take a deep breath and cross check against your answers above. You’ve been successful before so there is no reason why you shouldn’t do it again. If you’re really struggling, talk with a supportive friend and get them to remind you of your strengths, skills and talent.

Doing all this can seem like a diversion, but believe me it will be worth its weight in gold. Change will come when you focus on who you are now, not while you hark back to where you were in the past. You have all those management skills, but you’ve also learned a lot through your seven tough years and those skills and wisdom need to be included. You can only go forward and you’ll do that most easily when you see the very best of who you are and what you want.

If you’ve done all this and still can’t find your way, then a coaching session might help you bring it altogether. Being able to ask for help is a great attribute – and you can clearly do that otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion!

So start learning about yourself, then ask again for more help if you need it.

Good luck and let me know how you’re getting on.

Post your questions in the comments section below, ask us on the Psychologies Facebook and Twitter page or email letters@psychologies.co.uk. I’ll be posting regularly, answering your questions.

Judith Leary Joyce

Great Companies Consulting

In 1996 I made the shift into business, taking my knowledge of Gestalt Psychology into the realm of Executive Coaching, Facilitation and Leadership/ Management Development. In 2001 I worked on the 100 Best Companies to Work For list, then went on to write my first book Becoming an Employer of Choice which was followed by Inspirational Manager and The Psychology of Success. Since then I have worked with organisations across the sectors from large corporates through to young start ups, public sector and charities. Now it’s time to help you have a love affair with your work and get exactly what you want from your career. To find out more about my work and coaching go to www.judithlearyjoyce.com


Go to the profile of Cliona O Boyle
almost 5 years ago
Judith I can totally relate to this article. I am 39 and a teacher. I feel the same as you did. Not fulfilled in work and seeking something new and exciting. Difficult to find my niche and what it is that I am searching for. Cliona
Go to the profile of Judith Leary Joyce
almost 5 years ago
Hi Cliona - good to hear from you. I'm pleased the article makes sense and I hope the questions help prompt some useful thinking. It can also be helpful to go beyond your training and consider what your core talent is - what you do naturally and probably take for granted. You can read about this in my book, The Psychology of Success http://amzn.to/2jbqzUH and I'll write something about it here soon.