Seven Steps to Making a Successful Career Change

My first job was secretary to Moses. Having to transcribe and make 2,430 copies of the Ten Commandments convinced me I was on the wrong career path! OK, maybe I'm not quite THAT old. But I did start out as a secretary. While I didn't mind the work, eventually I decided it wasn't very satisfying. I often felt like a "tool" that helped others contribute to the organization's success. I wanted to make my own contributions, to find creative ways to make a difference. It took me about 12 year to come to that conclusion, decide to do something about it, and change my life.

If you are not happy in your current job, perhaps it's time to think about making a change yourself. Here's what you should do:

1. Determine why you're not happy. Are you really unhappy with the work you do, or just upset with your salary, boss, coworkers, or the office environment? There's a difference between hating your job and hating your work, and realizing that will help you decide what course to take.

2. Find your passion. What do you love doing more than anything else? List your top three favorite activities. Try to be a bit realistic here and choose activites that you might be able to earn a living with. For instance, if your three favorite activities are sleeping, eating and watching TV, your career options are somewhat limited. But do include hobbies and activities one doesn't always associate with work.

3. Evaluate your strengths. What are you good at? Consider more than just your technical skills. For example, do your prefer leading or following; analyzing or simplifying; working alone or with a group?

4. Do research. What career fields would allow you to use your passions and strengths to earn a reasonable living? There are some great online resources (such as www.jvis.com) that offer tools to help you do a self-assessment and then find careers that match your interests and skills:

5. Consider alternatives to jobs. Some people go into business for themselves when they become fed up with their jobs. If you think simply switching careers isn't enough, look into that alternative and others, such as... marrying a millionaire, becoming a beach bum, winning the lottery, writing children's books, painting and selling pictures, doing consulting work... the sky's the limit!

6. Create a plan. Once you know where you want to go, figure out what steps you must take to get there. Determine exactly what you need to do, how much time it will take, and what it will cost. It's probably best not to leave your current job until you're ready and able to start earning money with your new job/venture.

7. Get help. You'll be amazed at how helpful people will be when you tell them your plans. Talk with family, friends, professional associates, club members; participate in topic-related online forums; NETWORK as much as possible! Achieving great goals is always easier when you have others cheering you on and helping you out.

Bonnie Lowe is author of the popular Job Interview Success System and free information-packed ezine, "Career-Life Times." Find those and other powerful career-building resources and tips at her website: http://www.best-interview-strat egies.com.

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