6 Steps to Re-inventing Your Career

Meaningful work honors the deepest part of your being. It is the embodiment of your gifts and talents and all that you value. Finding it in a safe, smart way requires these six steps:

1. Soul Searching. Your journey begins with some intriguing self-examination. This step goes beyond looking at your work experience and skills. You also consider your values, interests, and personality preferences. This can be done informally through the use of specially-designed exercises or it can be done formally through professional assessment testing. Taken all together, the soul-search phase allows you to come up with a comprehensive personal profile that will help you develop future work possibilities.

2. Identifying Options. The key word here is "options"?not "answers". In this step, you use your profiling "clues" from Step 1 to brain- and heart-storm as many possibilities for future work as possible. This is one of the most creative parts of the change process ? and best done with one or more friends or colleagues who have a broad view of the business marketplace.

At about this point, it's important to begin to create a compelling future vision for your work and life. The act of creating your vision is inspiring, and it can actually help to pull your career change journey forward.

3. Testing. Testing has three purposes. The obvious one is to avoid making a big mistake by jumping to a solution too fast. The not-so-obvious purposes are to network more deeply into an area that you think you might like to make a career of, and to learn as much as you can about it from an inside perspective rather than from afar. It is experimentation with a purpose ? while you keep an open mind and heart.

4. Crafting Your Transition Plan. Out of your testing comes a clear path ? where you can set a specific new career goal and create the strategy and steps that will get you there. Your goal may be radically different work, the same work in a different environment or starting a new business or some combination of these three.

5. Implementation. During the Implementation phase ? which can begin even before you leave your current employer -- you begin to put pieces of your transition plan into action. You may begin a course of study, reduce your expenses, if warranted, and/or even make physical preparations such as relocation or building a home office. Of course, to minimize your personal and financial risk, you want to do as much as possible while you are still working.

6. Integration. Seekers often think that once the shift is made, their career transition is complete. I think it's more accurate to call it the "beginning of the end". A physical transition into new work is one thing ? but transitioning your "underneath" layers (like work patterns, assumptions) is another thing entirely.

Career change typically takes from one to three years. And the tendency is to just 'jump in' anywhere. It helps to have a big picture view and to know that there actually is real method to the madness!

Patricia Soldati is a former President & COO of a national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1999. Now, as a career fulfillment specialist, she guides unhappy corporate professionals into meaningful work -- both inside and outside the corporate walls.

For more about her approach or to receive 5 Complimentary Career Fulfillment Lessons, visit http://www.purposefulwork.com

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