Not Sure What Career or Field to Switch Into? Try This Framework.



It's not unusual to entertain the idea, or even yearn for, a career pivot. Here in the United States, switching careers or industries is an increasingly common occurrence in the pursuit of doing work that aligns with the impact we desire to make in the world. In many communities here, all but gone are the days where you're encouraged to settle for any job you can get and just keep your head down.


(Author's note: to be fair, this is not a blanket norm across all communities in the U.S. by far, and has a great deal to do with an individual's mental framing and belief in one's own possibilities + capabilities, as well as a great deal to do with geographically available employment opportunities + training.)


Typically, if you're seeking different work in the broad sense, you've already experienced three realizations:


Realization #1: I know what I'm doing now isn't what I want to be doing 5 years from now.


Realization #2: I want to do work that matters more (to me, to society).


Realization #3: There are so many things that matter to me, I don't know how to choose.


Most of the people I work with who are seeking to change industries (fields) or careers (job functions), or both, are seeking to do work that matters more to them and to the world at large. The exciting side of this is that this is entirely individual, as what brings one person alive and gets them hopping out of bed on Monday morning eager to get to work will undoubtedly be different for the next. The frustrating side of this is that there are so many things that could be a good and worthy application of one's time + talents + energy that there are too many choices.


It's the seemingly double-edged sword of choice: freedom of opportunity and overwhelm of options.


If you're at the vocational crossroads where so many of us have arrived at before and you are asking the question "So... what should I do instead?" I offer you a 3-part framework that may create some clarity for you.


As you contemplate all the areas of impact (AOI) you could make a switch into, list them all out. Next, classify them according to the following stratifications:


1) Concerned Citizen

As a concerned citizen and all-around empathetic human being, you of course are noticing various issues + causes that could use a few extra helping hands, to put it mildly. Our society is constantly evolving and there are many areas that could benefit greatly from the contributions of brilliant, capable individuals like you. This first tier is for jobs, causes, and industries that you feel could be a noble pursuit if you were to move into one of these spaces, but you're not particularly invigorated by them.


2) Active Interest

These are the jobs, causes, and industries that you not only are receptive to hearing about if the topics arise (such as headlines in the news, reading an interesting article in Forbes, etc.), but you find yourself intentionally putting in the effort to seek out more information and educate yourself about these topics. You are consciously allocating time + energy toward finding and consuming material about trends, updates, news, etc.


3) Devotion of Resources

This tier is reserved for those AOI that, regardless of how, you believe you would love devoting a significant portion of every day toward serving. This tier is reserved for the AOI for which you currently hold, or could potentially hold if you shifted some things around in your life, sustained, real passion for on an ongoing basis. These AOIs are other half of the sentence "It's amazing that I get to contribute to the work being done in ________" and you mean it when you say it.


Try it on for some of your AOIs. Here are some examples:


"It's amazing that I get to contribute to the work being done in climate change."

"It's amazing that I get to contribute to the work being done in advancing women's rights."

"It's amazing that I get to contribute to the work being done in improving the financial systems of this economy."

"It's amazing that I get to contribute to the work being done in offering creative and artistic experiences for the local community."


Ultimately, you *could* do an infinite number of different jobs in different fields in different industries. But if you're reading this, you're looking to not just find a new job, you're looking to contribute your time + talents + energy in ways that enhance your own experience of life on an ongoing basis, and that directly serve other people and/or this planet.


Play in this space, sift through all the ideas that you have come up with as potential career shift candidates using the three groupings above, and be on the mental and emotional lookout for what feels like the version of you that you're looking to step into.

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