Re-Thinking Your Career Choice After All These Years?

During the depths of a prolonged recession thinking about making a career change may seem foolish. However, if you're drained, bored, or tired at work, now is the time to re-evaluate your professional life.

The danger of staying in a job too long is that it can often lead to career burnout. That is when you give up on everything and cannot focus on anything positive at work or in life; an all too common mid-life crisis that can result in people flailing about as they attempt to re-invigorate their life. Tragically, this can snowball into the breakup of marriages, separation and discord among family members, friends becoming distant, and financial decisions resulting in a loss of accumulated wealth.

So for those of you discontent with the humdrum 9-to-5, here are techniques to find what needs changing in your professional life - and whether now is the right time to explore a new direction.

1. Make a list of those tasks you do at your job that you like and would like to continue doing in a new career. When you have finished your list, prioritize it with the most important tasks at the beginning.

2. Make a list of those tasks you do not want to do any more regardless of whether you are good at them or not. When you've finished that list, prioritize it.

3. Divide a new page into two columns. Label the left side "People I don't like working with." Label the right side "People I do like working with." Base this on your prior work experiences. When you describe a type of person you don't like working with on the left side, go to the right side and describe how you would look for people with the opposite characteristics. For example, if you don't want to work with people who don't want to work with others, you might say you want to work in a collaborative work environment.

4. List activities and tasks you like doing outside of work that energize or invigorate you.

5. List the language you like hearing. By language, I mean ask yourself: Do you like talking about people's problems? Do you like talking about certain financial transactions? Do others come to you for answers about certain subjects or problems? The language you like often indicates where your brain lights up and enjoys getting into the details of a particular subject. When talking to clients, I notice it when their voice level increases. They talk faster, become more animated and go into more detail.

Now, put all this together by creating your ideal job:

  • What skills and experiences do you want to use most that you are best at doing? (Steps 1 and 2)
  • What type of people do you prefer to work with? (3)
  • What environment would you most like to work in where you think you would excel? (4 and 5)
  • Tell a story in a couple of paragraphs that describes why you think your skills and experience would make you best qualified to do this job.

The final step is to test your theory about your ideal job and your skills and qualifications for it by talking to those closest to you for their input on whether they think it is consistent with what they know about you and, if not, why not. You now have a clear and positive description of what you want to do that you can tell others who can help you along your journey.

For more career and life coverage:
How Women Can Have It All (VIDEO)

Making "Overqualified" Work to Your Advantage

Why You Need an Investment Wall

At What Age Were You Happiest? (POLL)

About the author: Carl Wellenstein is the author of 12 Steps to a New Career, a comprehensive road map specifically for those wanting to make job and career changes in mid-career. See for more information or e-mail him at