Follow Your Enthusiasm To A New Career

The clue to your next career could be right under your nose—but you’re probably not looking in the right places.

Perhaps you’re hoping that your new career will jump out at you as you review postings on job search engines, company websites, job boards, or classified ads.

But, the fact is, that these job sources account for less than 12% of the ways people actually land positions. And, if it’s ideas for new career options you’re looking for, they are even less likely to present you with useful insights, given the abridged nature of job postings.

Instead of focusing on external clues by scanning the marketplace in hopes that something will catch your eye, begin with an internal focus to your career transition and notice what is capturing your attention and interest.

It stands to reason that the places, topics or causes that you care about and spend time following might be relevant to explore as a new career.

I’m basing this suggestion in part on the philosophy of the American mythologist and writer, Joseph Campbell, who coined the phrase “follow your bliss”.

Campbell explains his directive in this way: “If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are – if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time.”

Please don’t interpret this idea as a “turn your hobby into a job” strategy—which works for some, but more typically falls short, since most people don’t want to feel pressure or stress to “make something happen” from their hobby.

Rather, I’m suggesting that you take careful note of how you spend your time when you are not working. Or, what particular aspects of your job engage you, even if, as a whole, you’re not enamored by your position.

You may find revealing clues in the articles that draw you in when you have limited time to read, in the conversations you initiate or want to be a part of, in the courses you long to take, or the community needs or causes that pull at your heartstrings.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider an internal focus to your career transition:
1.     What topics am I most curious about at this time in my life?
2.     What do I find myself talking about that’s not related to my current job?
3.     What subjects do I consistently notice or seek out to read in magazines and/ or newspapers?
4.     Is there an aspect of my work that I wish I could spend more time on?
5.     What community/world need am I drawn to and why?

If your response to any of these questions ignites a spark in you, take a step toward it. This step can involve a variety of possibilities: setting up a meeting with someone who is associated with this interest area; subscribing to a relevant journal; doing internet research on it; volunteering for a particular cause or talking with friends about how they see you in relation to the topic.

From my experience guiding people to satisfying careers, the most successful transitions combine a process of self-discovery, revelation and investigation.

Don’t overlook the internal part of your process in favor of what seems easier on the outside. You might be surprised and delighted by what you discover about yourself that may lead to a new career.