Start Your Career Ideas Log
Finding the best career change option for you takes time. But it is often said that if you want to have good ideas, the trick is to have lots of ideas.
This is the principle behind your Career Ideas Log. Use it as a place to store all the themes and ideas that occur to you while you are researching new career opportunities so you build up a rich collection of possibilities.
What is really important here is to keep an open mind.
Think yourself into ‘Explorer’ mode. Your task is to find anything and everything that may be relevant to your career change plans. Do not discard anything at this stage because it is ‘unrealistic’ or ‘just not like me’.
Whenever you hear the ‘yes, but…’ creeping in, tell it to go away! Just opening your mind to possibilities can be a great self awareness exercise that will help you through the career change process.
Where do you get the ideas from?
Anywhere! Lots of people, places and resources can trigger ideas. They are all valid and useful. Don’t assume that there are good and bad, or right and wrong places to look. Anything can act as a prompt if you keep your mind open.
Try the following to get you started…
Try picking up newspapers or browsing the jobs pages on the internet and scanning the job ads. Remember you are not looking to apply for anything at this point, so just scan for anything that catches your fancy. It might be the job title that attracts you, but don’t stay at the level of job titles.
It could be that an advert that says ‘based in our out of town offices’ is appealing. A job ad may relate to an industry that attracts you eg the media, or you might like the sound of a description like ‘busy, fast paced environment’. Anything that catches your eye could be a career change option worth exploring further.
Highlight any jobs, words, themes that appeal and put the cuttings in your Career Ideas Log.
What the papers say
And make sure you don’t just pick up the papers you always read. Push the boundaries and pick up some different titles too so that you are exposed to a wider range of ideas.
With magazines, the articles may also be a source of ideas, but look at the pictures too. Keep an eye open for pictures that seem to represent something that you want to capture in your work. Images can be a fantastic tool in helping you tap into what is important to you – especially things that you haven’t even quite worked out yet in your own mind.
Look around you
Challenge yourself to just open your eyes anew to what you see around you.
On your way to work in the morning, let the things that you see prompt you to think about the employment opportunities that lie behind them. See how many different work options you can identify in a 10 minute period
of observation. Do any of these have aspects that attract you?
Again, don’t just stick with job titles. A good career change option for you could be inspired by seeing someone doing a practical job. This could make you realise that you like the idea of working with your hands. Or someone walking through the park mid-morning might make you think about the different work modes that are possible. They – and you – could be working part time, shift hours or flexi-time.
Your friends and acquaintances
Talk to people about their jobs.
You probably know what all your close friends do – but try asking them about what they enjoy about their work. What are the plus points for them? And then ask them about other people they know that do different or ‘interesting’ things.
Remember that ‘interesting’ is a very subjective. What do you think is ‘interesting’? Is there anything that you find yourself feeling a little bit envious of? Is it the flexible hours they work, the people they mix with or the status their job brings?
Record any ideas like this that come up for you.
Review your past dreams
Think back to what you wanted to do when you were a child or a teenager. What were your top career choices then?
The ideas may have been disregarded by family who encouraged you to settle down and do something ‘sensible’, but what can you recapture from those early dreams? What was significant for you in those ideas?
Many people find that early interests can be a good source to tap into to find their best career change option.
I don’t suggest that you sit down and read a careers encyclopaedia (unless you are trying to cure insomnia!), but 15 minutes in your lunch break in the library or a bookshop just turning the pages of one of the many careers books can be another great prompt for your Career Ideas Log.
Don’t read in detail at this stage, just see which sections you are drawn to. Is it the travel industry, finance, politics or health care?
You may find you can get as far as knowing that you would just love to do something in a particular sector, but you don’t know what job. That’s fine for now.
Just make a note of the sector that appeals to you – this broad idea could lead you to your top career change option.
The Career Ideas Log is not something to be completed quickly and then put to one side. You may spend quite a few months popping ideas in as you gradually work through the other exercises in this website.
Generally speaking, the more that is in there, the better.
Let your Career Ideas Log become a melting pot of possibilities for you to explore. It can prove to be a great resource when you are trying to narrow down to your best career change option.