Changing Fields – Good Questions to Ask

Has the urge to drop your professional activities to start over from scratch in another field crossed your mind? Before you start looking for greener pastures where you can develop new skills, certain questions are worth asking so you don’t drag your dissatisfaction into it.

What drives me professionally?

You can carry out the exercise of drawing up a list of your motivators, suggests Marie-Hélène Collin, guidance counsellor for the Brisson Legris firm. The irritants will be equally revealing: “What do I want to change? Is it my workplace or my role that is giving me tension?”

Questioning the place we give to work

“Here we are more considering the aspect of values,” continues Mrs. Collin. “In our thinking, we can ask ourselves what the work does for us. Am I working for economic reasons? For the experience? To actualize myself, to develop my potential? Is it a search for recognition, social status, a sense of belonging?

These questions can be asked more insistently when there is a major change in our life, whether it’s a happy event such as the arrival of a child, who may take the central place that a career had taken until now, or when there are limitations imposed by an accident or injury.

Does my desire for change arise from a choice or is it imposed on me?

“It changes the prospect of reorientation,” says Mrs. Collin. An obligation to reorient yourself, in particular due to a layoff or a transformation in your sector of activity, will result in a process of mourning which must be lived through in parallel with the process. For although a total career change is not necessarily always the solution, it is sometimes necessary without leaving us any choice.

What do I have to offer and what else could I do?

By questioning our strengths that we want to exploit more, we can gently realign our career path to our values rather than making a drastic repositioning in a completely different field. Sometimes the change will be more “horizontal”, by seeking complementary skills, rather than “vertical”, moving towards management positions. 

Upstream of any change in field, whether you are supported by a guidance counsellor or not, you first have to ask yourself what leads you to consider the option of reorientation. If the questioning arises mostly from dissatisfaction with work, Marie-Hélène Collin suggests deepening this sense of frustration to determine the cause. “Is it the order of the task being done? Is it the working environment, relations with a particular person (for example, your manager), or the management style?,” she lists.

Drawing a line in your life can also provide you with a wealth of material for reflection. By examining all the experiences you have had, both professional and personal, you can ask yourself, “What have I developed, what did I like?”

All the elements collected will supply you with clues to help you in your reorientation process.

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