If you’re feeling restless in your career and wondering what else is out there for you, it may be time to start exploring options. After all, you’ve got experience, wisdom, some unique skills, and you want to apply all of these attributes in pursuit of something you care about at this life-stage. Of course, the problematic issue is solving for the something in that last sentence.
One of the first items we tackle in our Career Reinvent™ Boot Camps involves defining what “reinvent” means to the participants. It turns out there are a wide variety of flavors for this term, and it’s possible to be interested in multiple flavors at the same time—a kind of reinvent ice-cream sundae!
While to some, having too many options is a barrier to decision-making, to me, it’s a great asset—a potential sweet shop of ideas that merit exploration and ultimately assessment for fit with life-stage, abilities, interests, and marketability.
At Least Seven Flavors of the Career Reinvent Ice-Cream Sundae
Here are just a few of the popular flavors our boot camp participants explored:
1. The Radical Makeover
I positioned this one as “Art trades it all in and finally pursues the BBQ food truck business that he’s been practicing for in his backyard for the last decade.”
What’s interesting about the radical makeover flavor is it usually emanates more from hobbies or fantasies than practical thinking. These ideas merit exploration and, ultimately, a strict set of filtering if part of your goal is to make a living.
I love creating remarkable eating experiences for friends and family. Still, it’s incredibly unclear whether I’m able to make a living at it or willing to take on the risks associated with this type of reinvention. It pays to apply extraordinary due diligence to career reinvention ideas involving turning hobbies into your source of income.
2. Same Vocation-Different Vehicle
This flavor tends to be for the individual who loves what they do but have grown tired of organizational or institutional life. In many cases, the goal is to move toward hanging out a shingle in their own business or joining someone else who already has that shingle out there. This flavor is enticing for many but potentially filled with risks. Again, proper sampling and evaluation are critical.
3. Same Vocation-Different Place in the Industry Ecosystem
While slightly closer to a traditional job change, this move emphasizes a shift to a different location in the industry ecosystem. For example, a large manufacturer’s product leader decides to leverage her experience but move to a smaller, high-tech firm pushing innovation into the industry. In this case, you retain a great deal of your professional equity yet get to apply your superpowers in a different environment.
4. Reinventing In Place
I’ve lived this one, and one of our recent program participants ultimately recognized he had done this multiple times to great success. He never viewed it as reinvention, but rather more of an educated form of job rotation.
If you love your industry and firm, reframe the challenge for your “next” (not forever) by changing jobs inside your firm. You’ll likely have to develop new skills, engage in training, and convince decision-makers you aren’t just a (name your job function); but rather a professional committed to growing and contributing in different ways.
5. Shifting from Success to Significance
Later-career professionals often reference this one, yet it’s not exclusive to this audience. I’ve had 30 and 40-somethings take their talents, wisdom, and energy to organizations where the purpose and cause resonate at a personal level. And for those who are looking for an encore career post-retirement, where income demands aren’t prevalent, “giving back” in some deliberate manner is often the driver.
6. Chasing “Next” via Education while Keeping the Day Job
This flavor is both complex and potentially rewarding. Going back to school is often a default reflex for someone who wants to do something new but isn’t sure what that is. It can be a great choice and filled with great learning and growth. However, if the return to school is mostly an exercise in finding oneself, you can end up with a new certification or degree but no further direction. The challenge here is to identify the education opportunity that feeds your mind and soul, which points to some possible paths for your “next” in your career.
7. Starting a Side-Hustle as a Means of Evaluating a Future Shift
This flavor shows up in many of the career reinvent ice-cream sundaes of program participants. From writing a book to taking on side projects that don’t pose a conflict with your day job, this can be a great way to explore, experiment, and start planning for a future shift.
The Bottom-Line for Now:
Designing your “next” in your career is an iterative process that, for many, involves a great deal of sampling until you find that just-right flavor. Instead of stressing over the many options in front of you, grab a sampling spoon, and enjoy the low-calorie exploration.
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