“What do you wanna be when you grow up?”

Raise your hand if this was your least favorite question as a kid. My hand is all the way up right now- how about yours?

From my childhood to well into my 20s, you could describe me as “undecided.” Or, if you’re my grandma, “very confused.”

My answer to that awful question was always, “dunno” with a shrug. When I started college, that was harder to get away with, especially since I started undeclared and changed my major 3 times.

After a few successes, lots of help, and a whole bunch of failures, I’ve learned a few lessons about changing careers and life paths.

If you’re thinking about a career change, there are a few questions you should ask yourself when getting started. Before you can make a major change externally, you have to look internally. Especially if you want to be successful in your new career.

Let’s dive into the 6 questions you should ask yourself when changing careers, then cover what comes next.

6 questions to ask when changing careers

The most important part of switching careers is understanding your values, skills, and passions. You need to know yourself before you can discover which career is going to fulfill you.

And, it’s essential to discover the career paths that, as I like to say, set your soul on fire, because studies have shown job satisfaction can impact your long term health.

Since these questions require introspection, I recommend getting cozy with a cup of coffee and a journal to write out your responses. Take your time using these to reflect on your past experiences, current desires, and long term goals.

Here are the 6 questions you need to ask yourself when thinking about a career change:

  1. What is the impact you want to leave? How do you want to be remembered?
  2. If they offered you all the money in the world, which jobs would you still never do? Why not?
  3. What are your top skills? Which skills need some work?
  4. What are your favorite skills to use? Which skills do you not like using, even if you’re good at them?
  5. In an ideal world, what would you be doing? Why does that appeal to you?
  6. When you picture your future, what does happiness look like? What does success look like?

If you look closely, the first 2 questions are about your values, the next 2 focus on your skills, and the last 2 look at your passions.

Once you’ve thought through your answers to these questions, it’s time to take steps to actually change careers!

What should you do next?

After diving deep internally, it’s time to start researching and networking

Look at the big picture of what you learned in your answers, and use that to research possible careers. Even if it’s as simple as looking up “jobs where you help people.” Use whatever you can as a starting point, and see where it leads you.

One of my favorite resources to explore careers is the Occupational Outlook Handbook. This breaks down possible careers into categories that you can use to explore. Then, it tells you information about each job in that category, including average pay, work environment, required education, and similar occupations. You can even browse by the highest paying careers, fields with projected growth, and industries with the most job openings.

Finally, the best way to explore new careers is with networking. You’ll get the best information, and the most opportunities, by connecting directly with industry professionals to have informational interviews.

Online research can only get you so far, but talking to experts in the fields you’re thinking about will give you in-depth, quality information. It can also help you land amazing opportunities in your new field. Luckily, even with COVID-19, there are still plenty of ways to get started with networking online!

Making a career change is a big decision, but it can be important for your health and overall happiness. If you’re thinking about changing careers, it’s crucial to give yourself space to reflect on your values, skills, and passions. Once you’ve reflected on those 3 areas, it’s time to start researching and networking!