How to make a fresh start

The balmy days of summer are over and it's back to the same-old, same-old. Or is it? Perhaps now's the time to scan new horizons and make a fresh start in your working life. Here's a crash course.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

Is this just fantasy? For many, making a significant career change never gets further than thinking about it, says John Lees, author of How to Get a Job You'll Love. 'Be honest with yourself, are you really going to do something about it?' he asks.

Same job, new rules? Dissatisfaction may be down to one or two issues and, realistically, your best option might be to renegotiate the job you already have, says Corinne Mills, managing director of Personal Career Management. 'A client of mine thought she didn't want to be a lawyer any more, but it was mainly because she didn't get out enough. When she got involved in developing relationships for the practice, she was much happier.'

Get a pen and paper. Write down on one side what you want more of; on the other what you want less of. And don't forget what you want to stay the same. 'This will help you focus on what you're really looking for,' says Mills. And Lees adds, work out the deal you're looking for.

Give it some structure. A fresh start requires step-by-step planning, says Phil Bolton, founder of career coaching practice Less Ordinary Living. 'Work out your strengths, what you are passionate about, what makes you tick. Form a vision of the next chapter in your life. Create a detailed timeline and action plan for how you're going to get there,' he advises.

Take your time. Don't start by applying for jobs. Explore, think about what you would like to do, and how you can present yourself as a credible candidate, says Lees. 'Talking to your warmest contacts, having open-ended conversations, asking people to tell you about their field, is how you really cross the threshold to successfully changing direction.'

It's not just work. Think about your lifestyle and the needs of your family. You can't make decisions about your career on considerations of work alone.

Dip your toes in the water. It's good to experiment, says Bolton. 'Take a week off work to get new experience, try something out. If you have a business idea, use the weekends to set up a website. It all helps to build your confidence and that gradual transition helps you manage the risk.'

Educate your network. 'Tell people what you're doing, but make sure there is a logic to it,' says Mills. 'Then they'll understand, but if you simply announce you're doing something completely different it will seem superficial.'

Forget Reggie Perrin. The last thing you should do is wipe out your past and re-invent yourself. Your contacts, your experience, your transferable skills: all of these will give you credibility in your new role, says Bolton.

Do say: 'I'm going to find the role that gives me what I really want from work.'

Don't say: 'Farewell accountancy, hello who knows what? All trace of my former life will be extinguished.'

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