We are continuing on with our series on reinventing our work and careers. So far, we’ve covered questions about timing (“How do I know if the time’s right?”), skills limitation (“Can I even do this?”), and age concerns (“Am I too old to make a change?”).
This week, we’re talking about something that we all want to have the answer to before we start anything new.
If we could only get some kind of assurance on our future direction, then things would be a whole lot easier, right?
Before we commit to a new direction, is there a way to know for sure?
So, there isn’t really a magic question that can help us find the right answer. There’s no exercise or hack tool that can guarantee our career direction.
You’re not really surprised by this, right? There are no guarantees in life. The sure thing doesn’t really exist.
But we don’t have to be completely in the dark either.
We can take steps to mitigate the risks. We can avoid going down rabbit holes (or at least minimize the number of times!) only to find out later that it’s not really the one we really wanted.
Testing Your Idea
The key, of course, is to test your idea before you pursue it 100%.
You don’t want to devote much time and effort toward something that may not be viable.
Perhaps, you already know that the idea will work. Still, you may find by testing the waters, that it’s not the right thing for you.
Even if you’ve always had this one dream. Even if you’ve been thinking about it for a long time already. Taking the following extra steps can boost your confidence in your planned career move.
1. Do you know someone who’s already doing the work you want to do?
Sometimes we assume we know about a certain field of work based on what we can observe from the outside. Well, you know what they say happens when we assume
Talk to people who are doing the thing you want to do. Ask them about their experiences. Find out what their day-to-day is like. Find out what their biggest challenges are.
Then go back and process all that you’ve heard.
Did anything surprise you? How do you honestly feel about what you learned? Did you get more excited about your plans, or did you get turned off? (Note: Scared does not mean turned off.)
2. What’s the core activity?
Find out the core activity of the thing you want, and see if you can do something similar in practice.
I once worked with someone who was seriously considering joining the online blogging world. That’s until we talked about its core activity—writing. I suggested that he practice writing about his desired topic for a couple of weeks. Draft a couple of posts, that kind of thing. It was pretty obvious afterward that this wasn’t the right direction for him to pursue. He discovered that he had little patience in writing (or recording his thoughts in any medium) after all.
Which leads us to the last test.
3. How do you feel about devoting significant time to it and in it?
Imagine spending loads of time reading about, talking about, practicing or getting trained about your desired area of work. How exciting is this prospect for you? Or do you find yourself yawning?
Sometimes we get ideas about a career direction because we’ve seen others succeed in it. Nothing wrong with this, in and of itself. You just want to make sure that you are interested enough to sustain the effort.
For example, say you’re thinking of getting into real estate. How would you rate your level of interest in everything related to real estate? Could you see yourself spending time and money getting trained around these topics? Could you see yourself spending time with other people also involved with real estate? Would you enjoy yourself, do you think?
It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. —Mark Twain
Engaging in activities within your intended field of work is the best way to confirm if it’s the right one for you. Get out of your head and stop thinking about your dream career. Instead, put yourself in situations where you are trying it out, talking to people about it, and testing the waters.
At the risk of sounding new age, you’ve got to feel what it’s like to be living your dream.
How are you testing the waters on your desired career?
Break Free: The Courage To Reinvent Yourself And Your Career is now available on Amazon, in print and Kindle versions. It is all about helping you make the critical decision to take command of your career direction so you can build the one you want. You can click here to learn more about it.