How to choose a career when you have no idea

6 Min Read
second career move

If you’re looking for your next career move, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we shed light on how to choose a career when you have no idea where to look next. 

We highlight how common career changes are, how to discover what you really want to do, and evaluate the option of going freelance.

First things first: you’re not the only one

There’s a psychological phenomenon amongst humans that makes us believe we’re the ‘only one’ doing something different.

Everyone else is sticking to one career and ‘doing what they should be doing’ – yet you’re here making drastic changes.

Firstly, you’re not the only one. The average person will switch careers five to seven times during their working life.

Second, the reason you feel that way dates back to our caveman days when belonging to a group was crucial for survival.

In order to prevent being rejected by our clan, our brain started comparing ourselves to others to ensure we don’t fall short.

According to psychologist Dr Russ Harris, humans might have come a long way since then, but our brains haven’t evolved that much.

And in this case, they’re simply wrong.

Research by job search firm Jobrapido shows that nearly two-thirds (62%) of the UK workforce have aspirations to change their career path.

And 13% of the respondents admitted they would like to set up their own business.

What’s more, an Investec survey found over half of Brits plan to change careers within five years.

So why does it look like no one else is making the changes?

Well, interestingly enough, career changers wait for one to two years before taking the plunge.
And 19% of the Jobrapido survey’s respondents admitted they have no understanding of how to go about switching careers. 

But there’s enough research out there to show that working in more personally desirable careers actually improves your psychological and physical wellbeing.

And the majority of career changes come with wage increases

Even better, these wage increases tend to be bigger than for people that change jobs but remain in the same career.

How to find out what you really want to do

Before we continue, we want to point out that we’re not career coaches or here to give you personal career advice.

We’re simply people who have been there, done that and want to pass on what we’ve learnt.

With that in mind, here are four steps you can take to help you discover your passion. 

1. Take time out

Most people panic at the thought of a career break and rush into something new, only to discover they don’t like that either.

There’s a lot of value in taking time out to figure out your long term goals.

It gives you an opportunity to discover your values, learn new skills and reaffirm what you love to do. 

And we’re not just saying this to make you feel better – there’s evidence to back it up.

Over the last 30 years, 93 studies have researched the effects of a career break. They all concluded that a time out positively affects both physical and cognitive performance, well-being and health.

2. Reminisce on childhood hobbies

There’s no better way to find your passion than to go back to what you enjoyed doing as a child.

What did you do that was a hobby for you but could be considered work for others? What came naturally to you? Was it writing? Painting? Handicraft? Photography?

Whatever it was, write it down and list the different skill sets you needed to accomplish those hobbies. Were there any that you were particularly good at?

Taking some time to reflect on previous hobbies can help lead you down the right career path.

And it’s worth it: 86% of British adults that started a hobby-based business said it gave them greater job satisfaction.

3. Ask for feedback

Now that you’ve got an idea of tasks you both enjoy and are good at, asking for feedback will help narrow down your list.

Ask your colleagues, family and friends to give honest feedback on what you do well.

And don’t worry if the feedback isn’t always positive – studies show that 92% of the time, constructive feedback can actually boost performance.

In this case, it can motivate you to work harder or prevent you from going down the wrong path, so a win-win really.

4. Go out and do it

As much planning as you can do, nothing will beat actually going out and getting your dream job.

The type of job you go for depends on the sort of work environment you enjoy.

A corporate role will allow you to become highly skilled at one specific task. Working at a small business, on the other hand, can give you more varied experience across a number of roles.

Before applying, take a close look at the requirements listed on the job description.

It’s one thing to have the necessary skills and interests to do the job. It’s another to affirm you would enjoy doing at least 80% of the tasks.

While no one can guarantee you’ll love every minute, going in knowing you’ll enjoy doing the majority of what’s required is a huge indicator you’ve found your next career move.

Is freelancing an option?

Freelancing could be a good fit if you have a set of skills you can monetise such as digital marketing, copywriting, graphic design, web development or photography.

Freelancers tend to have higher levels of satisfaction and wellbeing, and 79% of UK freelancers say they have a better work-life balance than before.

And in most cases, you’ve already met your first client: your previous employer. After all, they know how good you are and you understand their business very well.

Plus, hiring you as a freelancer is a lot easier than hiring a replacement employee. The latter is time-consuming and can cost up to £30,000.

The good thing about freelancing is you don’t have to commit to doing it forever.

It could be something you do in the short term, for example, while you take time out to figure out what you really want to do.

Freelancing can become a stepping stone to something else as you learn new skills and get more work experience or for others, it can become a fulfilling long term career move.

If you like what you’ve read so far, you might be interested in our course ‘Get Started on Your Freelance Journey.’

It covers everything you need to know to get started on earning an income from your freelance venture.

Three points to remember

  • Start with why: when figuring out your career goals, always have an answer to why you want to go down your chosen path. People don’t buy what you, they buy why you do it. There’s an excellent book we can recommend on this topic that will help you reframe your career decision: Start With Why by Simon Sinek.
  • Have an open mind: we all fail, all the time. The key is to learn from the mistakes. Writing down your ‘mistake of the week’ and what you’ll do differently next time is great for your career development. For more on this, listen to our interview with Augusta Vivian, CEO of consulting firm Higson.
  • Be patient and stay positive: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your career won’t change overnight. If you take a chance, run with it for 12 – 18 months. Most importantly, stay positive throughout it all. If you’re in a positive mindset, you’ll be more open to new experiences and more likely to take action.


Career choices aplenty

If you’re considering a career change, you’re not the only one and there are plenty of career options out there for you.

Whether it’s starting your own business, going freelance or moving to a different job, taking some time out and reminiscing on childhood skills will help you choose the right move.

If you are thinking of going freelance, we’d be delighted to help you achieve your goals with our course on how to get started on your freelance journey.

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