The words change from person to person; however, the theme is the same: “My inner voice says it’s time to do something different. I just don’t know what or even how to get started looking for something new.

Others offer some variation of, “It’s one of my favorite fantasies. Just pack it all in and open a (insert idea) near the beach.

Whether you classify making a career shift as a fun fantasy or it just feels overwhelming, there’s a strong gravitational pull that keeps too many people in place, miserable in jobs and roles they’ve long since lost interest in or outgrown. However, this doesn’t have to be your fate. While you might not know what you can do that’s different, interesting, and rewarding financially and psychically, the important part is to start looking. 

Give Yourself Permission to Explore a Career Change?

There’s a process for tuning-in to your best self and superpowers and exploring and ultimately identifying or designing your next. For anyone interested in finding their “next” the simple first step is to give yourself permission to explore a career change. It’s risk-free, low or no cost, and no day jobs need to be sacrificed during your exploration phase.

A Primer on Exploring Career Options After Permission

In my Career Reinvent™ process, the exploration phase is the most challenging and exciting for participants. After tuning in to superpowers and exploring your “best self” and backstory via a series of self-discovery activities, exploration starts as an exercise in unfiltered idea generation. Early in this stage, the goal is to generate as many ideas as you and anyone working with you can think of that fit the filters of “I can do this or I can learn to do this” and “I’m interested in this.”

There’s a tendency for most of us to self-filter and rule out ideas that seem outlandish or unreachable. In my experience, it pays to have someone or a group working with you to keep you from self-censoring and to identify ideas you might never have considered. In my Career Reinvent Boot Camp programs, the group support proves most valuable right here in helping others get out of their own heads and identify ideas that sometimes prove to be game-changers. Consider the molecular biologist who is working to become an audible author in her native language or the priest striving to translate his creativity into workshops to help others tap into their creative superpowers. And one of my favorites, the retired former senior consulting partner who likes the reinvent process so much, he is now working with me helping others reinvent. 

From Divergent to Convergent and Watch Out for the Hobby Trap

After the wild and hopefully far-reaching early ideation process exhausts itself, it’s time to add in one additional filter. I call it the “Hobby Trap Filter.” I like hobbies and have a few of my own, however, they are often the first idea people gravitate to when considering their “next” and in many instances, they make lousy businesses. I introduce the Hobby Trap Filter gently into the process, and at this stage, it’s a highly subjective: “I might be able to make a living at this.” (Note: for some later career stage individuals of means, the goal isn’t income but significance and contribution.) 

While the process is a little messy and a lot of fun, eventually, exploration gives way to the rigor of experimentation. With the help of a coach or a cohort, you down-select from your idea inventory to a workable few hypotheses and design experiments to research and test for viability. In most cases, we are searching for those ideas that fit at the intersection of abilities, interests, and marketability. 

The Bottom-Line for Now:

If finding a new way to apply your abilities and accumulated wisdom is on your mind, start by giving yourself permission to explore ideas and options. I’ve watched too many formerly frustrated, depleted professionals come to life and successfully navigate to new roles, start their businesses, create exciting side-hustles, or engage in long-delayed creative pursuits not to share this formula. Is it time for you to give yourself permission to explore a career change?

Art's Signature


Additional career resources from Art Petty: