Simplifying to Create Career Freedom – Part One

Back in the “good old days” graduating from college used to virtually assure you of a good job—one that paid well, had great benefits, and offered a relatively good amount of job security. A good job then afforded you the opportunity to buy a home, a nice car, and take vacations. You might also be able to save for your own kid’s college education as well.

Fast forward to 2015, things have changed a bit. The Economic Policy Institute reported that roughly 8.5 percent of 2014 college graduates between the ages of 21 and 24 were unemployed. In addition, 44 percent of those employed between the ages of 22 and 27 were underemployed, meaning the job they held did not require their level of college degree.

The effects of unemployment and underemployment do not just affect the newly minted college graduates. Mid-career and pre-retirement age folks have similar struggles. In addition, for those individuals wishing to change careers, work part time (in well-paid positions), or retire early, the road is fraught with obstacles.

So how can we ensure that we are able to live the life we want doing work we love when income may be a challenge?

Like every good financial manager knows, if your top line isn’t big enough, you have to reduce your bottom line. In short, if you don’t have a large income, you need to have low expenses.

Working with my career coaching clients, we tackle this issue often. We focus on career path tactics as well as life balancing strategies. Options abound and no two people approach the process the same. One common theme does arise, however, the need to simplify.

Simplify Your Career

Get crystal clear. Simplifying your career can be as basic as deciding what career you REALLY want and planning for growth in that space. Being very clear about what it is you want to do, what it is you aspire to do, and where you want to end up is critical to your success. Relying on anyone other than yourself to make these decisions is giving your choice away.

One small step. Find a quiet place and take 10 minutes to write down all the things you LOVE to do. Be sure to include things that you value. This list should include all the things that give you joy—they make you feel good about you.

Look at your list. What do you notice? Are there common themes? Do you really like interacting with people? Or, with animals? Do you enjoy writing or speaking? Do you really like working with machines or building stuff? Maybe your list includes caring for the environment, fixing the old and making it new, or creating space in your life for fun.

Reflect on your current job. Do your work tasks reflect what is on the page in front of you? Are there parts of your job that connect with this list? Is there a complete disconnect?

Do your homework. If your “list of loves” and your job are a bit disjointed (or a lot disjointed), you have some work to do. O-net Online is a great resource tool to help you connect your interests to a career. Click the Advanced Search link, and the tool will help you uncover careers related to your specified interest.

Network. Nothing beats the opportunity to gain information from a real live person. Networking is not just an opportunity to meet new people it is an opportunity to learn and understand what others do for a living. You never know when you might run into someone doing your dream job or at least doing something that interests you.

Commit to Change. Dreams without actions are just dreams. If you really want to create a career change, make the commitment to do so.

Hire a Team. Paid or unpaid support is available to you to help with your career move. Once you have clarity on what you want and where you are going, engage your social media network of friends and colleagues in helping you move toward your goals. If you are a college student or college graduate, visit your school’s career center and seek out advising or coaching services from them. You might also consider hiring a professional career coach to help you further your discovery and create your action plan. A good source for locating a trained coach is through the International Coach Federation.

In “Simplifying to Create Career Freedom – Part Two”, we will look at ways to simplify your life so that you can create room financially to make career changes.

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