Creating a Motivating Career Change Vision

Changing Careers?  You’ve dreamed about making a career change to achieve a career profession that results in more satisfying work. With the following exercise, you are going to imagine, in your mind’s eye, what your ideal career change situation would look like. While you may not be able to visualize every exact detail of your desired career change, you will most likely be able to envision your basic hopes for your lifestyle and routine. For just a little while, allow yourself to dream the most desirable career change situation possible for yourself. Keep in mind that for now, you’re only imagining what you’d like to create.

PANIC POINT: Career Cowards often talk themselves out of their true wishes by thinking, “I’d like for this to happen, but really…what are the chances? Why even write it down?” Remember, your goal at this moment is to visualize your ideal situation. Have faith that later, you’ll figure out how to make it happen. (And don’t worry…I’ll give you some doable steps for that part, too.)

To begin, find a quiet, pleasant place where you can think to yourself without interruptions for 30 minutes or so. It might be on a park bench, at a coffee shop, in your bedroom, or on a walk. Be sure to take along the following list of questions and note-taking materials. Once you’re in your peaceful place, tell yourself to set aside the many thoughts and concerns that have been on your mind. You can go back to them again in a little while. But for now, your focus will be in visualizing your ideal career change situation.

Ask yourself the following questions, and jot down your answers for each. If you’re not able to think of an answer to a question right away, ask your mind to mull on it for a while, move on to another question, and then come back to the unanswered question later. Picture yourself sometime in the future. It could be two years, ten, or twenty. Whatever timeframe works for you, knowing that you have had enough time to create the situation you are about to visualize.

Begin by writing down anything you see in your future picture. For instance, where are you? Are you indoors or outdoors? Is it a different city or country? What do you see around you? Describe the things you see. What’s the weather like? What season is it?

Now ask yourself, what are you doing in this picture? What tools and materials are you working with? What do you spend your time talking or thinking about? Which activities give you joy and pleasure? What feels especially meaningful to you? How does your day progress? What new activities do you begin?

In this picture, what topics, issues, or thoughts take your attention much of the time? What problems are you trying to solve, or goals are you aiming to achieve? What benefits does your expertise create for others? What rewards do you receive from your work and activities? How are you compensated?

Other than yourself, who is in your picture? How do you interact with them? What purpose do they serve in your life?

Also, what other pieces of your life exist that are important to you, but aren’t in this picture that you’re visualizing right now? What hobbies, places, activities, and events are you involved with at different times of the day, week, month, or year? Do you travel from one place to another? If so, where do you go? Who do you see and interact with during those times.

Looking even further into the future, what are your longer-term goals? What are your efforts leading towards? What career demand factors are influencing your choices? How are you progressing and developing yourself. What are you aiming to achieve ultimately?

Now, reflect on this life that you’ve created. What decisions have you made that support what is most important and meaningful to you? What values do you honor every day that help you to maintain your sense of respect for yourself and the world? What beliefs and standards do you live by?

Write down as many ideas as possible related to these questions. It may help to begin this exercise, leave it alone for a day or so, and then come back to it when your mind has been able to develop some further insights.

When you’ve written down as many thoughts as you can (for now, at least), declare it, “good enough!” and set it aside.

PANIC POINT: Your career change visualization may not be as detailed or crystal clear as you hope it might be, but that’s okay. Remember that this visualization will continue to evolve and change as you progress along your life and work path.

Excerpted and adapted from “Career Coward’s Guide to Changing Careers” by Katy Piotrowski, M.Ed.