7 Questions for Every Career Changer

Asking these questions will help you take action and get traction.


I love dreaming about what could be. I love playing with ideas and refining and expanding my vision. Where I run into trouble--more often than I would like to admit--is actually taking the action to breathe life into those ideas. And without that implementation, dreams remain little more than puffs of smoke. Needless to say, I have plenty of experience figuring out how to take myself out of my dreamworld and make the rubber meet the road.

Here are seven questions that I have discovered help me take action and get traction:

[See the best careers for 2010.]

What do I need to do? OK, so this one is obvious, but you would be amazed at how often people try to wing it here. If you have a vision you want to make real, spend some time in the planning phase. What do you need to do? What steps need to be taken? What needs to be in place in order for you to get from here to there? Look at this from multiple time-frame perspectives:

  • Long-term
  • This year
  • This month
  • This week
  • Today
  • Why do I need to do it? Sometimes it’s easy to get so caught up in implementing that we forget why we’re doing it. Ticking the tasks off the to-do list becomes the end goal rather than the stepping stones to something more important. On a regular basis, check in with yourself on why the steps you are taking are important. Not just from a task-based perspective (i.e. it will let me achieve 'x'), but also from an emotional perspective. Why is achieving 'x' important to you? How will you feel? Keeping that in mind will help you stay energized.

    [See 4 steps to taking your career off autopilot.]

    When do I need to do it? OK, another obvious one that gets left out all too often. On a regular basis, sit down with your answers to “What do I need to do?” and map out when you need to do them. This one is particularly important for me, because I start to drift when I don't do this.

    Who do I need to do it with? If you think you’re going to do this alone, don’t bother even starting. That’s a recipe for failure and spinning your wheels. Reaching out to other people along the way will both open doors and move you farther and faster than you ever could on your own. Sit down and take stock of who you can reach out to and why. Some areas where others can add to your success include:

    • Collaboration
    • Accountability to help keep you on track
    • Knowledge support (e.g. mentors)
    • Emotional support
    • Peer support
    • How could I do it? One of the biggest myths that keep us stuck is that there is one way to achieve any particular goal. The reality is that there are typically countless paths that can lead us there. As you explore “what you need to do,” spend some time exploring different ways of approaching each of the goals you identify. The more options you have, the less constrained you’ll feel, and the less likely you will be to get mired down. That translates into friction-free forward action.

      What helps me move forward? I think of this one as creating an ecosystem for yourself that facilitates forward motion. Spend some time exploring the question, “What helps me move forward?” What motivates you? What creates a sense of accountability so you can’t let it slide? Who can you incorporate into the picture that would keep you forward-focused? Creating your dreams is a long-term endeavor. Creating a forward-focused ecosystem will help you maintain that momentum.

      What is keeping me stuck? Sometimes moving forward requires some addition by subtraction. Spend some time exploring what prevents you from moving forward. What prevents you from taking action? What distracts you from taking action? Anything you can do to reduce or even eliminate those factors frees you up to put more of your energy into moving ahead.

      After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book, 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work, and his E-book, The Occupational Adventure Guide, offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.


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