If you don’t like your current work but have a nagging doubt that making a change could mean moving to something you dislike just as much, what should you do? It’s a familiar question that I hear as a career coach and I know from my own experience of career change that it can lead to “analysis paralysis”!

You might have spent years feeling like you want a change, so it’s little wonder that you want to get it right which boils down to doing three things:

• take the time to look at what you really want from your work;
• think about what interests and/or excites you; and then
• do your research.

You’ll also do yourself a huge favour if you stop thinking there’s any such thing as a cast iron guarantee about a positive outcome. It’s human nature to want one but the bottom line is that if you want change you have to take a calculated risk based on those three steps above and get on with it! So what do those three steps involve?

Look at what you really want from your work: this means being totally honest with yourself. What’s most important to you about work? Will you do anything as long as it’s well paid (if the answer’s yes that’s fine!) or do you want to do something that feels like it has more meaning for you? There’s a whole host of things to ask yourself about, from what skills you enjoy using to the type of colleagues you want to mix with and the type of values you want an organisation or your own business to have.

Identify what interests and/or excites you: It seems like most of us at some point have worked on something that sends us to sleep with tedium. One of my clients used to explain IT products to journalists. She described herself as "the person-least-interested-in-IT who I’ve ever met", so it simply wasn’t a match. But she really enjoyed working with others at her agency and making suggestions about how they could deliver the best results. The early signs that she was going to train teams – a focus on people, what motivated them and how to improve things - were all there. What interests or excites you about your current job or about the world in general?

Do your research: to begin with, this might just be internet based. But the most helpful information comes from talking to people – the people who do whatever it is you think you might want to do. If you work in a corporate you might be able to arrange some shadowing or a short secondment to a part of the business which interests you. And if you don’t, you can always use a few days of your holiday time to offer your services free of charge or dip your toe in the water via volunteering. Ask friends and friends of friends about what could be possible in their workplace.

It’s obviously right to want to avoid making a mistake, but rather than getting stuck, remember there’s much you can do to help yourself make the right move. And that there’s always going to be an element of uncertainty.

For an alternative take on uncertainty that you might find helpful, ponder the words of writer John Allen Paulos: “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”

Author's Bio: 

Michelle Bayley is a licensed career coach who has seven years' experience of helping people to change career, using the Firework(TM)career change programme.
She helps people move from confusion to a clear sense of direction and a plan of how to get to where they want to be. She lives in London but through phone coaching can work with clients anywhere. To find out more about coaching with Michelle, visit www.findyourwaycoaching.co.uk