Are You Curious?

Why curiosity lies at the heart of career change

girl explorer

Are you curious?

Do you wonder why things happen the way they do? Do you find it interesting to consider what makes you behave in certain ways? Do you like reading and talking to people to find out about other people’s lives and work?

I hope the answer is ‘Yes’!

Why is that?

Because curiosity is an invaluable asset when it comes to changing careers.

If you are looking for a significant change of direction in your new career, then you need to be ready to cast your mind and imagination out like a wide net – and curious people do this all the time out of habit.

I often think of the career change process as a kind of diamond shape where the first stage is all about broadening out from the narrow point where you now stand. Before you can even begin to pinpoint your new career, which lies at the top point of the diamond, you need to open up your horizons and explore the wealth of possibilities with an open and curious mind.

So what do you need to be curious about?

First and foremost about yourself.

Who are you?

Some people are naturally reflective and spend time working out what makes them tick. But not everyone has this habit.

If you are looking for a new direction in your career (and this often means in your life too) then you need to think about exactly who this person is who is looking for a new direction.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What interests and inspires me?
  • What are my natural strengths?
  • What skills have I acquired through work so far and from other activities in my life?
  • What things do I consider to be important in my work?
  • What kind of person am I and how do I prefer to behave in different situations?

Then be reflect on the experiences you have had of work so far.

  • What (or who) made me choose the career I am in at the moment?
  • What has been good about the work I have done?
  • What have I not enjoyed at work?
  • What do I think work ‘should’ be about – in other words, what expectations do I have of work?

The world of work

When you have looked at yourself, it is time to turn your attention outwards and be curious about the amazing world of work – it is much more varied than you realise. Just take a bit of time to consider all the different ways people make a living.

  • What different occupational areas can you think of that people work in?
  • What about individual jobs? I challenge you to make a list of at least 150 different jobs – and there are many more than that.
  • And what do people’s jobs actually involve? Who could you go and talk to to find out more?
  • And what variations on the standard 9-5 do people adopt? There are lots of different working patterns.
  • How many different possible employers can you identify? Just pick up a newspaper to get you started.

What’s stopping you?

Finally be curious about the obstacles that you put in your own way. Don’t worry, we all do it. We have all built up images of ourselves and of our world which in some ways help us manage on a day to day basis, but on the occasions when you are trying to make a big life change, these images can hold you back and keep your perspective narrow.
So ask yourself the big questions.

  • What is stopping me from changing career? Make a long list of all the possible blocks.
  • If these obstacles were not there, what would I consider?
  • What can I do to challenge these obstacles and to build a new and more helpful map of my world?

So get in the habit of asking questions – why, how, what, when, who? Don’t just assume things are as they are and that nothing can be done about it. Being curious about alternative possibilities is the first step to making them actually happen.

What do you think?

  • How curious are you by nature? Are you naturally drawn to explore or do you prefer to stay on safe and familiar ground?
  • How many different ways of running a working life can you identify?
  • What are the key barriers that are stopping you from moving on and making the changes you need?

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From the 5 Minute Career Coach April 2014

About the author

Amy Thomas

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