How to make a career change in the new year

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As the year draws to a close, many of us become reflective, looking back on how things have been and whether we are a little closer to reaching our goals. If you’ve spent the year dreading each work day and thinking up excuses for taking sick days, it may just be time for a career change.

The lack of passion in the modern workplace is pervasive. Perhaps it’s because we chose our careers at 18, when we had no idea of what was in store for us or perhaps an increasingly competitive job market makes us reticent to let go the side of the pool.

One of the biggest obstacles to a career change is that most people don’t know what they want to do with their lives. They know that their current careers don’t suit them, but they have never been taught the art of career guidance. If you are tired of your job, but just don’t know what you want to do with your life, then these tips to finding your new career path will help you get your butt in gear in 2015.

Our top tips for making a career change

What’s your skill set?
If you are waiting for divine inspiration to suddenly reveal your true calling; that ship has sailed. Instead, go about making this decision the way all big, important decisions are made — with an educated guess, a little research and nerves of steel.

Start by creating a list of skills. Think about what you have been good at since you were a little kid. Don’t confine yourself to what you have listed on your resume; think outside of the box here. Don’t trust this task to memory alone; go online and do some aptitude tests. These are helpful in not only revealing your hidden talents, they also suggest the kinds of careers your skills would support.

Ask your nearest and dearest
No one has insights into your abilities and interests quite like the people who know you best. Ask your friends and family members to suggest careers at which they think you will be good. You will be really surprised at what they come up with and they may have some inspired ideas for a career change.

Try it out
When you have narrowed down your possible careers to a manageable list, give each of them a try. One of the biggest disappointments is that a career may not be what you imagined it would be. For example, if you have an idea of being a lawyer that you got from watching Boston Legal, you will almost certainly be disappointed with the piles of paperwork it actually entails.

To avoid these kinds of problems, find people you know in your industry of interest and talk to them about their day-to-day lives. Look online; most universities (even the Ivy League schools) offer free online courses. Take an introductory course in a couple of subjects to see if you like them.

Use what you have
You don’t have to quit your job to start exploring new avenues. You can use what you already have to dabble in different careers until you find what you like. Let’s say for instance you are thinking about being a chef. After speaking with a couple of chefs to see what their lives are like and taking a cooking course, you’re still really interested. Start by offering to cater events at your office or for friends and family members. Still like it? Moonlight a couple of nights at a restaurant or on the weekends to get a feel for it.

If you aren’t happy in your career, start thinking about changing your lifestyle today. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to make a move. Start with exploring your talents, and put in the time and research you would if you were making any other big life decision like investments or buying a house. When you put the time and effort in, you’re bound to find something that really makes you happy.

Have you ever made a career change? What strategies did you use and how were you successful? Leave a comment below, or tweet us @trackvia with your stories.