by CareerActually contributor, Kyanne Smith


As it turns out Meg’s career story takes an unexpected twist, so there will be part 4 in this series. (Plus I promised Meg I’d tell you all of it!)

After a particularly depressing day at work, a young colleague comments on Meg’s unhappiness. She wants to know if the team has done something to upset her?  On hearing this Meg’s heart sinks in her chest.  She didn’t think her colleagues had even noticed. Meg feels she’s at a crossroads. She can continue to struggle on, but deep down she knows that isn’t working. The golden handcuffs have kept her stuck in a job she’s outgrown and they’ve restrained her creativity and confidence too. Meg wants to be free of them, and to do that she needs help.

Meg meets with a friend for a drink after work, but instead of the usual support and advice, her friend expresses growing frustration and says ‘Meg, for goodness sake, I’m sick of this endless career crisis of yours. What’s stopping you from doing something? What else can you possibly need to know!?’   It’s these two questions that resonate with Meg. Driving home that night Meg wonders about what is really stopping her? Perhaps all this time spent ‘living in other people’s stories’ is not what she should be doing. Perhaps it’s her own story that needs attention.


Image:Valerie Everitt Source: Flickr

So she makes a fresh start. She gets hold of a book about career change – a friend recommended it ages ago, but she never bothered to read it.  She starts to explore things she hasn’t thought about in a very long time and she asks herself a lot of questions. She begins to write down the answers. Perhaps this journal will help her draft the next chapter in her story.

  •  What does she really enjoy doing? When does she feel most alive and happy?
  •  What values are most important to her? (Does she even know what her values are?)
  •  What work would she like to contribute to? (She supports young artists… is this an opportunity?)
  •  What does she actually have to offer in another job? (She’d forgotten all the skills she has.)
  •  How much money does she really need to earn?  Can they adjust their family budget? (She examines their  finances, goes to her accountant, and talks frankly with her partner)

Meg’s exploration leads her to examine some assumptions she’s made about career change. The first one is about reduced income. Maybe she wouldn’t have to take a pay cut?  Could she earn the same or even more money in a job where she is more committed and engaged?  Does she need to study to make a change?  She thinks more seriously about the types of work she might do, and what skills or qualifications she’d need. She’s been told there’s no money in art…that’s another assumption she begins to test.

Meg reads about information interviews.  She wants to talk to someone who’s made a career change and find out how they did it. Meg realises there’s a person she has always been curious about. She’s admired him for a long time and she’d really love to do the work that he does. Until now she didn’t think it was remotely possible. Meg musters a bit of courage and makes a call. She’s pleasantly surprised when he says he’d be delighted to talk to her. She’s excited by this positive response and notices a sense of relief and hopefulness. She prepares for the meeting – she has so many questions her brain buzzes.  Meg forgets about her golden handcuffs…..she’s too busy focussing on her future.

In part 3, Meg will tell you about her information interview with her inspiring friend Adrian, and what happens as a result.

In the mean time, I’d love to hear what career exploration you’ve done?  What techniques worked for you?