Do you want to break free and pursue new career ambitions? Roman Krznaric’s month-by-month guide can help you make your move.
Around 60 per cent of people in Europe would choose a different career if they could start again, but many are too afraid to make a change. But with a bit of planning, making a fresh start in your career can be quick and effective.
Here is a 12-month guide to negotiating the labyrinth of choices, pinpointing what meaningful work might look like for you, and finding the courage to take action.
January: New Year reflections
Think carefully about your current situation and your ambitions. What is your work doing to you as a person, your mind, character and relationships?
February: personal job ad
Write an advertisement offering yourself for work. List your talents, qualities, values and passions (but don’t name any jobs you want in it). Email it to 10 diverse friends, asking each to suggest three careers based on your advert. Any interesting surprises?
March: career conversations
Imagine four parallel universes where you could try any job you wanted for a year. What four jobs would you be excited about doing? For a week at a time, find out all you can about these careers and try talking to the people who do them.
April: map of choices
Draw a map showing your career path so far, highlighting what influenced you – such as family, education or love – at critical moments of choice. What does the map tell you about yourself?
May: expand your skills
Do a short course in something new that you want to learn and which might take you in new directions, such as web design or gardening. Would turning it into a career bring you and your work into closer alignment?
June: holiday job
Take two weeks of holiday and volunteer or shadow people in two jobs that intrigue you. Consider what you learned in the process.
July: summer reading
Do some wider reading to help you think about which career options will offer you the work-life balance you want. I find Bertrand Russell’s 1932 essay, In Praise of Idleness, really useful.
August: branching project
Alongside your existing job, experiment with a new job in a small way, for example, could you start doing freelance web design on the weekends? If it doesn’t give you a buzz, try another branching project.
September: renegotiate at home
Discuss with your partner how a career change might affect your relationship, childcare arrangements, domestic roles, and financial security. Rather than just one of you ‘having it all’, how can you both find a way to have some of it all?
October: going high or wide?
Think about whether you want to be a high achiever (lifelong specialist in a single field), a wide achiever (doing several different jobs simultaneously), or a serial specialist (one specialist career after another). Is there any retraining you might need?
November: set the date
Decide which branching project(s) you want to expand into your next career, and set yourself a date for leaving your current job. Tell family and friends about your plans so you don’t back out of it.
December: take the leap
Hand in your notice, taking inspiration from Zorba the Greek: “A man needs a little madness or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.” Embrace the idea that your working life is a life-long experiment.
Thanks to The Guardian for allowing icould.com to republish this article. You can view the original version on the Guardian website.