December 18, 2013

Changing Careers Mindfully.

We spend most of our lives at our jobs.

As a matter of fact, if you work full time you probably spend upwards of 40 or more hours a week at your place of employment. That is 2080 hours a year spent on the job. If you live in the United States, there is a very good chance you have limited paid vacation time—or none.

If you are someone who has plenty of vacation time and paid holidays, great for you! But for most Americans, this is not the case. According to Forbes Magazine, the average paid holiday/vacation time in the United States is 16 days per year, while the minimum time off in most developed countries is 19 days.

So what do you do if you are unhappy in your career? This is not a good situation to be in since most of us spend a great deal of our lives at work.

I’ve seen a trend of postings lately on Facebook and Twitter discussing this very subject. People are unhappy at their current job or simply not earning enough to make ends meet and desperately in search of something new/more fulfilling/better paying. So if you find yourself in this situation, what do you do? Chances are, walking in tomorrow and telling everyone you quit is probably not the best idea. At the same time, continuing to go into a setting day after day that you feel may be draining or toxic is not ideal either.

Meditate on It

Whether you meditate or not, setting aside some time to think things through is important. Sometimes our emotions run high in certain instances, or maybe we just feel in a rut. Are there other options that can be explored? Can you ask to work in a different department? Can you apply for a higher position? Is there an issue between you and another employee? If so, is it something that can be worked through if you tried?

Another suggestion is to try looking at the job from a different perspective. When we show up every day and do the same things, we may start to feel like there is no longer a challenge. The passion is gone. What if there was something you could change? What steps are needed in order to make changes?


Think about what you would like to do. Have you always wanted to act? Are you really proficient at sewing and enjoy creating new things? Is there something you always dreamed of doing?

Many times as kids and even as adults we are told our dreams and ideas are silly.

“Dream no small dreams, for they have the power to move the hearts of men.” ~ Goethe

If we didn’t allow ourselves to dream, we wouldn’t accomplish great things. Start with a dream and think of the ways you can begin to move in that direction. By starting small, you can begin to follow a path that can give you inspiration and possibly lead to a new career. Research what training or education is needed to become what you want and don’t get discouraged if there is some training involved. We all get older regardless of how we spend our days. You can get older with a degree and new career or you can stay where you are and still get older.

Explore Your Own Skills

Start thinking about your skills. Sure, maybe you feel like you just know how to do your job. Chances are, you have a whole host of skills that have been acquired that you aren’t even considering.

Make a list of everything you do in a day at work. Do you answer the phone and talk to customers/clients? Do you help train other employees? Have you been promoted to another position since you have worked there? Write down everything and think about how to list these skills on a resume’.  This can be helpful when you start actually forming a profile of your skills.

Envision Your Goal

Take some time to envision yourself in your future job. What type of position would it be? Would you be in charge or would you just go to work and come home? Do you want to work early in the morning or do you prefer to work afternoons and evenings? Do you want to dress up every day or wear jeans and T-shirts?

These are all important aspects to contemplate. If we are going to put the work in to actually make a major change in our lives, we should try to get everything we want. Write down the things you would like in a job and pin it to a board or stick it on the fridge. Imagine yourself as already holding that position. While I am not suggesting that this will magically make everything fall into place, you would be surprised how this type of thinking can open doors.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy is used in psychology to assist people in changing the way they think to effect their daily life. By thinking one way, we can change how we react to a situation. How we present ourselves can change the outcome of how people react to us. This has been proven in studies by using mock interviews.

By envisioning the goal you can produce results.

Don’t Burn Bridges

Even if you absolutely detest the place you are in now and can’t stand your supervisor, think before you act. Speak mindfully. We all are fighting our own battles and you never know what the other person is going through. I am not advocating letting people walk all over us, but we shouldn’t be a jerk either. We need to stand up for ourselves, but with compassion.

You also never know when you will leave or if you will need these contacts in the future. If and when you decide to leave this job, it’s best to treat them the way you would like to be treated. Exit your workplace with people telling other people what great work you did. Walk away and leave the impression you want others to have of you.

Making a career change is a huge decision, but it can be extremely rewarding as well. Transitioning can be done mindfully and respectfully if done with care.

Good luck and namaste.


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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo Credit: Laura Danila/Pixoto

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