You’re ready for a change.
You’ve outgrown the old career fit. Maybe outgrown an old dream.
It probably took you awhile to admit it. And even now the truth feels risky and uncertain.
But it’s time. And, it’s a time of BIG questions. What work would better tap your talents, make a difference you care about – and still make a good living? What’s even possible? Perhaps you’re even playing with ideas for starting your own thing.
But you’re stalled. Clearly ready, but not sure how to proceed – or actively exploring but hitting some walls.
From almost three decades as a calling coach, here’s one of the biggest walls I see people hit with their career change. See if you can relate…
You’re not coming up with many ideas, or you see too many possibilities, or (and this is really common) there’s a problem with every option you think of. The initial shot of energy and intrigue you have for each idea is quickly buried by all the reasons that direction is probably NOT the answer…
- The money probably isn’t there.
- You’d be starting over and not competitive.
- You’d have to go back to school.
- It’s too risky.
- You’re too old.
- It might turn out to be just as bad as (or worse than) the current gig.
- It would be a mistake and end in failure…
It’s frustrating. As you explore options you’re finding some sparks, but not nearly enough to start a fire. You’re finding ideas with some attraction, but not the kind of big “Yes” that would make you ready to leap.
So you feel like you’re spinning your wheels.
The REAL Problem
If this description is true for you, as real as these obstacles can be, the actual problem may be that you’re asking the wrong question. The “question” is the way you’re framing and focusing your efforts.
And, if you’re stuck, the question you’re likely asking, in multiple forms, is “WHAT?”
- What’s the answer – the solution?
- What’s the next, better, more passionate career fit?
- What the heck would satisfy this calling stirring in me?
- What would be fulfilling AND financially feasible?
Seems like obvious questions to be asking, yes?
Indeed WHAT is an essential question. It’s where passion meets paycheck.
And it’s followed by another critical, but separate, question – HOW?
How to land the job? How to launch the business? How to make your right WHAT a reality?
The real problem is that readiness to successfully answer both these questions depends on FIRST answering a more fundamental question…
WHY – Your Calling Compass
This quote, that’s been a favorite of mine for over twenty years, says it beautifully.
WHAT is about “what the world needs.” And there is a time to ask just that. But it’s not the question to lead with. For big change, reinvention, you need to first find your strong answer to “What makes you come alive?” That’s the question of your WHY.
Your WHY is the compass and the fuel for successful career reinvention.
Why is the question of PURPOSE. What’s the difference you’re drawn to make? What is the specific impact that’s consistently satisfying for you – that makes all the work worthwhile?
It’s also the question of GIFTS. What lights you up? What comes so naturally it’s almost invisible to you, yet others see it clearly? What unique brilliance and value do you bring?
Gifts and purpose, and the unique way those come together in you, is your calling compass.
Lead with WHY
If you’re ready for a career change and don’t have clarity about your calling compass – WHY is the necessary discovery to begin with. Because everything you know about job search or starting a business is useless – without the vision to guide it and fire to fuel it.
Career change is a radically different animal than job change. Instead of what company to work for or the next step on the ladder, reinvention is born of deeper changes. WHY, unlike WHAT and HOW, is not a question for the practical mind. That’s never where new aliveness is found. WHY is a question of heart and of spirit.
And you grow into the answer.
Because with a career reinvention you’re in a process of redefining who you are – now. This is especially true when you’re making a career change at 40, 50, and beyond. You’re facing old fears and letting go of old messages and beliefs too small for what you’re here to do next. You are growing – making room for new fire and true direction.
Big career change is inseparable from your growth – personally and spiritually. And it begins with an important reset. Stepping back to find clarity again about what you want to do (and give) with this precious life.
Find Your Right Question – Quick and Easy!
WHY, WHAT, and HOW. Which is the leading question for your career change?
All three are critical but we need to untangle them and to follow their lead – in the right order. Where you are in the process defines your right question. Below are 3 quick True/False statements to help you find the question that’s the right focus now for your career change:
# 1. “I know the career path I want – even if I’m not sure it’s possible.”
True = HOW is your question.
Time to gather your support team, let go of your assumptions, and begin an active creative exploration to find HOW to make the new path a reality. Job search or business startup – your clarity about WHY and WHAT guide your success.
False = Proceed to statement #2.
# 2. “I don’t know the specific career path – but I’m crystal clear about the gifts and purpose that must to be at the heart of my work.”
True = WHAT is your question.
Time to follow that passion. Begin immersing yourself in an active in-person exploration of possible paths – learning intimately about “what the world needs,” in the direction of your calling. Gather the clues to where you can bring unique value to making the difference you care about.
False = Proceed to statement #3.
# 3. “I know what I don’t want – but need new clarity about my true gifts and purpose.”
True = WHY is your question.
Time to go on a quest to find your calling compass. Take a deep dive, ideally with a guide and travel companions, into what makes you come alive, your genius zone, and the impact you’re called to make next.
It takes quality attention and support, but it will lead you to what I call “New Fire” – a new direction on-fire with your calling.
The Magic of Following Your Right Question
The same way a map doesn’t transport you to your destination, knowing the right question doesn’t reveal its answer. In fact even the right question can be a huge frustration. What you really want is an answer!
Still, there is magic in claiming your right question. Because the right question puts you on the right track. Claiming your right question accepts where you are in a process – accepts reinvention as a journey to be traveled rather than a puzzle to be solved.
There is freedom it this. And focus.
When you’re on the right track your efforts will more likely, and naturally, lead to progress. There is energy in the frustration of not having an answer. And your right question will help you channel that energy into action.
When held with the openness of real curiosity, a question will suggest ideas and exploratory steps. Your right question will help lead you to the right book or resource. It will lead you to the right coach, mentor, program, or support group that’s perfect for where you are in the process.
The Quest in Question
Questions are doorways to discovery.
You want an answer. We all do. Instead you’ve been given a quest.
It’s been my privilege to walk with many dear people on their calling quest – and to see how, again and again, it led them, often in surprising and synchronistic ways, to grow into their next brilliant career chapter.
Your next work is calling.
WHY, WHAT and HOW. Claim your question, accept the quest, gather your travel companions and begin.
Note: While we don’t currently have comments enable here, we’ve started a nice conversation about this post on LinkedIn. Come join us! I’d love to hear how this fits with your own experience. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/career-change-alert-you-asking-wrong-question-rikk-hansen
Nature’s Reinvention Map
WHY, WHAT & HOW are a simplified way of understanding the reinvention process. The first thing I share with my clients is a much richer and more useful model (but not as easy to fit in a blog post) – the “New Fire Map” that draws on nature’s wisdom for reinvention.
If you want a map for your calling quest – especially if you’re in the WHY stage – check out my Free online training: 5 Keys to Find New Fire, where I share this powerful map for finding a next work path that’s really your calling.
Click Here => I Want the MAP!