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Career Change Tips: Remember the Why

Well, we've come to the 5th and final post in my series on career change tips. Exactly one year ago I was in the middle of round two of my job search journey. As the year is winding down and this is a great time for all things related to gratitude, reflection, and goals, I figured it was also a great time for me to make my final post in this series.

As a quick recap:

Tip #1 is to say yes.
Tip #2 is to say yes, except to a job you don't want.
Tip #3 is to engage in online communities.
Tip #4 is to practice gratitude.

While all of these were things that really helped me, this final tip is something that can carry you throughout the whole process, especially on those days when you are debating making a career change in the first place.

Tip #5 is... Remind Yourself of the Why.

Yes, the WHY.


Why are you considering making a career change in the first place?

Why are you looking for a new job?

If you left your last job, why did you leave?

What gift(s) do you have to share with the world?

What can you contribute?

What fulfills you, motivates you, inspires you?

Take some time and reflect on these questions. As far as we know, we only have this life to live. We might as well make it worth it by sharing our unique selves, talents, skills, and perspectives in a career that aligns with our own values.

Reflect on your experience, skills, and worthiness. Visualize what you want your next place of employment to look, feel, and sound like. Think about the work you want to be doing, and identify a few next steps that will help you get there. Do not lose hope and faith, and trust the process. The darkest point of night is before the dawn. You can do it— and you will.

If you were laid off, fired, or still at a job that's not your favorite, practice accepting where you are now. If you chose to leave, remind yourself why you did and congratulate yourself for doing what was right for you.

You may not know where you’ll end up next or what the future holds, but it feels so good to honor the boundaries you are setting for yourself and prioritize your own health, happiness, and dreams.

Put in the work – but don't stop dreaming

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, one year ago in December, I was sitting at a table by the window at my neighborhood Starbucks, cranking out the job applications. I had decided to make job-searching my full-time job, and approaching it that way. I divided my time every day between researching jobs, filling out applications, tailoring resumes and cover letters, engaging on LinkedIn, working on my website and portfolio, volunteering, and taking online courses.

I had also decided to expand my search, but stay focused on key/core values that I wasn't willing to compromise on - respect, creativity, room to learn and grow, a positive environment and culture, and mission, vision, and values I believed in. I was especially keeping in mind times I didn't feel or have those things at a place of work - important things, like respect, feeling appreciated and valued, knowing that my well-being was being considered, and having people invested in me and my growth.

When I was still in my former field, I kept returning to the why - something wasn't aligned and I couldn't ignore it any longer. When the negatives start to outweigh the positives, it's time to explore other options.

Break out of the box

Often, we put ourselves in boxes and we keep ourselves there because we think there aren't any other options. Or if there are other options, it's too hard. Too unlikely. Too much work. Too scary.

We'd rather feel comfortable. Until sometimes when it gets to a point when you've realized that your desire for comfort and fear of change has rendered you stiflingly immobile and you're just not happy with where you're at any more. A breaking point where you realize, enough. It's not worth it anymore to keep on with the monotony, with not living up to/honoring your dreams, without exploring what else is out there, what else is possible, what else YOU are possible of doing. In what ways could you truly shine while also working somewhere that embodies everything you're looking for?


I'll end this with another little anecdote. Nine years ago, I was overly comfortable in a job I absolutely loved, but had no more room to grow there. I had outgrown the job, as well as some relationships. I had been saving up money to travel and live abroad in Spain to teach English. I had been taking private Spanish lessons for two years with an incredibly vibrant, feisty woman who had lived many lives. About a month or two before it was time for me to hop on my flight abroad, I was surprised to find we had made our way through the entire textbook.

"That's all of it?" I asked. "I thought there was a part 2 to the lessons."

"Part 2 is in Spain," she said with a smile.

Sometimes you just need to take that leap of faith and trust that the universe will catch you. But it won't catch you, unless you take that leap.

Many people are familiar with the travel quote, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey”. It’s certainly easy to get fixated on the outcome, but the job search journey is actually the real destination. Every connection you make and every job you apply to; every phone screening and every interview you make it through; every rejection you get and every emotion you feel— all of it is part of the larger picture of helping you get more clear on where you want to be and what you need to do to get there. And when you do get there? The journey continues. :)

Have you made a career change? What was your experience like? I'd love to hear! Feel free to share in the comments or connect with me here on DEV or Twitter. Thanks for reading!

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