Use Self-Evaluation to Aid A Winning Career Change

I used to hate the sound of the alarm clock in the morning. As an accountant and internal auditor, I found my work tedious. People dreaded seeing me. I disliked having to confront them every day on recurring problems. I became disconnected from others and didn’t feel I was helping anyone.

In 1997, I left this career after 12 years to become a stay-at-home dad for our newborn daughter and to search out a satisfying career change. One objective was to actively manage our family’s investment portfolio to achieve our long-term financial goals, including paying for our daughters’ college tuitions. This time has been well-spent, as we’ve achieved our goals. Further, the lessons I learned in doing this now drive my new choice of career: writing to empower others in their personal finances and lives.

My business experience gave me a solid understanding of how companies make money and helped develop my interest in personal finance. I combined my know-how in preparing financial and management-oriented reports and manuals with my long-abandoned, but rediscovered passion I had in my youth for creative writing.

Realizing my need to be a resource to others put it all together for me. I found something I was excited about doing — free-lance business and financial writing. I rearranged existing skills and added new ones along the way.

It’s hard to say whether in the long run my new career will pay as well as or better than my previous one. I believe it will; information that empowers people sells.

As a stay-at-home dad, I do as much free-lance work as my schedule allows. But in addition to enjoying being part of my three- and one-year-old daughters’ growth and development, I have a real sense of excitement in the possibilities and purpose of my new work.

Scores of potential career changers focus on popular lists, such as “The Top 10 Hottest Jobs for the Next Five Years” when considering their options. But a meaningful career change should be a personal odyssey, not a popularity contest. I’ve learned that a successful career change involves using experience as your teacher, finding something you’re really excited about, seeking advice from others in your field, researching potential employers, clients and industries and creating opportunities for yourself. Lastly, you should reflect on what you want from your work and life experiences.

Let’s face it. Many of us in our mid-30s to mid-40s don’t have the same career goals, aspirations and values as we did in our early 20s. Varied career experiences, good or bad employers or clients, evolving skills and family or other responsibilities have all helped to shape our careers.

Experience is an advantage in that it teaches us better self-awareness. Like many of my friends and colleagues, I came to a point in my career where I was frustrated and bored — and ready and willing to make a major change.

If you’re thinking about a career switch, my advice is to find something you’re excited about doing. Look anew at your experiences, hobbies and interests. Make note of the skills and experiences you find the most rewarding. Critical self-evaluation and careful research can empower you to make a winning career change. Pursuing your true interests, skills and values will help you make your mark in a more personally satisfying career.

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