In the book “The Road Less Traveled,” author M. Scott Peck stated, “The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
This holds so much truth and can be applied to various aspects of our life—whether applied to our personal goals, our relationships or with our career. During these moments of discomfort and discontent, it is when you finally give in to the persistent tugging at your consciousness to change course. While the mission to reinvent yourself and carve a new career path can be daunting, the rewards of overcoming this fear are worth pursuing.
The Time for Reinvention
The decision to carve out a new career path is an undertaking that requires careful thought. Below are a few signs to help you know when it is the right time to reinvent yourself and pursue a new career path:
- Going to work is a struggle. You wake up feeling tired and exhausted. You get sick often, too.
- You are perpetually stressed out and restless. A foreboding feeling that something is wrong hovers over your head.
- You have lost your energy and creativity. You hide in your cubicle and rarely engage with colleagues. You feel lethargic and just go through the motions.
- When comparing yourself to others, you feel jealous of their achievements. You feel like there is nothing exciting happening in your life, while other’s lives are full of exciting milestones.
- You incessantly live in the past, and you are preoccupied dreaming of the future. In your dissatisfaction with your current career status, you keep telling yourself that there has to be something more than what you have now.
To Err is Human, To Pivot is Wise
It is easy to understand why people find it hard to pivot and carve out a new career path. Years into a career not aligned with what you truly want, you feel the weight of dissatisfaction on your shoulders. But you continue and persist out of fear. Change involves a lot of risks, and when your basic needs are threatened—food, shelter, and clothing—you stop in your tracks and second-guess the decision to pursue a new career path. But there are ways to conquer this fear to help you move forward.
1. Set a timeline for yourself.
Remember that carving out a new career does not have to be abrupt. Keep track of your career progress—where do you want to see yourself in a year? In three years? How about in five years?
2. Have a proactive career reinvention plan.
There are several different scenarios when an employee is forced to carve out new career paths—downsizing, reorganization of the company structure or introduction of new technology. Do not wait to be forced to pivot. Take charge of your career by having options available to you.
3. You can start small by taking smaller pivot steps within your current role.
If there’s an opportunity to lead a new project, stretch yourself and volunteer to be a part of this initiative. Explore within the department if there are other roles that you can add to your current role.
4. Ask yourself the hard questions.
If you are seeking something totally different from your current field, ask yourself this: what is that one thing that you would like to do for the rest of your life if money was not an issue? This could help you identify which path to take.
5. Invest in the change.
In taking this new career path, gradually transition by pursuing this new field of interest in your free time. Study and learn everything about this field. Identify a role model to emulate and create a network of people within the new field you wish to move into.
6. Start clean.
Similarly, going back to school is another way to reinvent yourself and pursue a different career path. This move will allow you to start with a clean slate, learn the fundamentals of the discipline and create a network with the right people in the field.
7. Be ready to start all over again.
Moving to a new field and uprooting yourself from your current career may set aside the experience that you have gained through the years. This also means that you may have to compete with a younger workforce.
It’s Never Too Late to Start New
In reality, most of us choose our careers following a hit-or-miss process. Fresh out of high school, college freshmen are asked to decide which major to pursue. Shifting to another course is discouraged as this prolongs your stay in school. Likewise, we choose career paths that offer better financial yields. The bottom line is your career choice will most likely define the course of your life—the people you meet, the kind of decisions you make, the type of goals that you pursue—making it vital for you to be careful when choosing your career.
The feeling of being stuck will recur and haunt you again and again if the work that you do does not align with the values that you believe in and pursuits that you are passionate about. If you are going through these realizations but are having doubts about pursuing a new career path, remember that it is never too late to start all over again. Conquer your fears and reinvent yourself.