One of the biggest questions that people have when they’re looking for change in their career is where to start the process of figuring out what they want next.

Getting things right at the beginning is so important because the right foundation ensures you get the right results at the end.

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For me that means understanding what’s happening now such that you want a change as well as knowing what makes you tick. It’s like getting a diagnosis before starting treatment.

Frequently people will first look for new careers on LinkedIn or Indeed. They then get disappointed because they see the outrageous requirements listed, which are targeted towards people who are already doing those types of roles. And so they think they’ll have to start over at the bottom.

Also it’s difficult to look at a list of careers without really knowing what you want, why you’re looking to change and what’s inside of you that you that needs to be satisfied in your next career.

The first thing my clients do is my wheel of life assessment, which helps them understand where in their life they need to make changes, as well as what parts of their life could be affecting other parts. (Drop me a note to get a copy of my wheel of life exercise.)

After doing the wheel of life, you next look at why you’re changing careers. What’s not working at your current career? Is it something specific to your employer or boss or industry, or something inside of you that’s changed?

If you could wave a magic wand, what would you change? What would things look like if they were different? How would you feel if things changed as you desire? Frequently there’s something inside us that’s not being honored or served.

Something like important values or beliefs or priorities or even your ideas about life and work. Something or some things are out of alignment between what you’re doing and what you believe.

Quite simply your actions might not be aligned with your beliefs. It can also be that you have certain strengths that aren’t being honored or used enough.

How do you figure out which values or beliefs aren’t being honored? One way is to get a list of values online and circle the ones that are important to you. Then, mark the ones which are missing from your career. There are also values assessments you can take online. Some are free and others are paid. That will help shed light on things that are important to you that you might need more attention.

The Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment is a great tool for understanding your top strengths and helping ensure that your strengths are used in your career.

It’s also helpful to think about your attitudes on life and work and success. What’s important to you about life? What gives it meaning? The same about work. What makes work good or honorable?

About success, what is your vision of success? Where did it come from? Does it feel authentic to you or was it somehow imposed on you? Maybe by friends and family or even society? Do you believe in it or would you like to change it? These are all important questions to understand if you’re to be happy in your career and in your life.

Another way to understand values and what’s important to you is to think about your heroes and role models throughout life. Who are these people? Why did you look up to them? What qualities do they possess? This can also give you clues about what you need more of in your career and life to feel satisfied and fulfilled.

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