10 Steps to Starting Your Next Career

Next-Career“That’s something that is almost accidental at the beginning of a career, but the more you write, the more trained you are to recognize the little signals.” – Stephen King

If you want to know what your next career might be, then start experimenting. That means starting a side business, blog, or volunteering at local organizations. You have to take action on what you think will make you happy, so you can find out if this potential career will fulfill your needs.

You have to visualize your goal. Feel it. See yourself working on the small steps to make this goal a reality.

If your best guess isn’t right, I guarantee that you will get closer to meeting your needs after failing. It’s the best way to discover your next career.

Fail, adjust and try something new.

Meeting Your Own Needs

I’ve worked for companies that weren’t a very good match for me. I did it because they paid me well. When I accepted various job offers, I didn’t take everything into consideration before accepting. Another part of my personality is that I’m a scanner. I don’t like doing the same stuff over and over again. I like to mix it up. I know I’m crazy, but I like working on two different projects at the same time; it is fun for me. It’s why I run Work Happy Now and Domino Connection (my product launch company for creative entrepreneurs). I just love working with two different parts of my brain during my day.

Too often, people tell you not to do something because they wouldn’t do it the same way. Don’t listen to them. Listen to your gut and do what you know is best for you. It took me way too many years to figure this out.

That’s why I advocate that a lot of my clients work on a career on the side. It’s really the best way to test out if you can make the transition from one career to something that will make you happier. The pressure is much lower when you can try a different career while your income is stable.

1. Make a long list of everything you think you would like to do.

This is the fun part about trying to figure out a new career for yourself. It’s important to take at least 90 minutes to do this. Work for 25 minutes on the list. Take a 5 minute break. Do this 2 more times. The reason I suggest that you take so long to do this is to flush everything out of your brain. You need to put everything down to make sure you think about every available opportunity.

Sometimes the hidden stuff like number 89 on your list is the one thing that really hits your sweet spot.

2. Scratch off everything that doesn’t fit your strengths.

I recently talked with a coaching client who wanted to get into counseling. As we talked about this profession, I noticed that she really didn’t like sitting and talking to other people about their problems. She preferred giving out advice. So, as the conversation continued, she realized that she wanted to be the next Dear Abby and it’s been her dream ever since she was 10 years old.

By eliminating the activities that don’t fit your strengths, you are making sure that you aren’t transitioning to a career that would be more of a struggle instead of something that you would excel at.

3. Pick the top 3 careers from your list

Picking your top 3 transition careers is difficult. A lot of times you won’t want to eliminate “rock star” or “professional tennis player,” but the key is to do work that fits your superpowers. Those are activities that you are passionate about, that get you in the zone, and that come easy to you.

If you narrow down the list to 10 choices, it’s going to be too hard to do the next step. If you narrow your list down to 1 choice then you are limiting yourself to doing work that doesn’t excite you. Picking your top 3 careers allows you to have flexibility to see how each career might feel before you put all your energy, time and money into making it a reality.

4. Research your options

When you take the time to research what other people are saying about your possible new careers, you can get a better understanding of how you want to take action. There are 1,000 ways to create a career for yourself. You can focus on going broad or find a small niche that fits your needs.

The best place to start is Google, but you have to be careful. You have to be strategic with how you do your research. You don’t want to spend any money at this point to see what your next career might be. It’s best to research the popular websites and also dig a little deeper and look at the news articles as well as what blogs are saying about your career of choice.

Also try to research various key phrases to see what websites are saying. For example try using basic phrases such as “How can I become a copywriter?” and “How much does a copywriter make?” You’ll also want to try some different combinations like “copywriting career” and “advertising editor” and “copywriting 101”.

Your research will help you get a better picture of what direction you want to take your new career.

5. Talk to People in Each Field

Interviewing people who already are immersed in the career that you want is a great way to get a better grasp of your new career. If you want to become a nurse, don’t be afraid to go to a hospital and ask someone if you can buy them a cup of coffee on their next break. If this is a little too socially daring for you then try going to a local nursing school and ask if they would be willing to introduce you to any nurses that you could talk with for 15 minutes.

You’ll also want to talk to different types of nurses so you can get a better understanding of what might be a good fit for your needs and personality.

6. Create a 6 month plan for each career

Now write a goal of where you would like to be with your new career in six months then work backwards. Remember to stretch yourself a little bit. If you want to be an author and your goal is to write a book in six months, then you had better start writing right now. Taking too long to figure out which topic you want to write about won’t allow you to reach your goal. Let’s say you really do want to write a book. You may want to have the very rough draft done in six months. You need to look at how much time it would take to make this happen. If you need at least 2 hours a day at 6 days a week to make your book a reality, then you’ll have to make adjustments in your schedule to make this deadline possible.

The more detailed you make your list the better. You’ll start to see what works for you and what doesn’t after writing each plan.

7. Pick the career that got you the most excited

As you work backwards from each goal, you will be able to feel the excitement building–or maybe the opposite happens. The key is to figure out which of the 3 future careers would be the best fit for you over the long term.

If you are just going through the motions or procrastinating on making the plan, it’s a good indication that it may not be the career for you. There is a catch though. A lot of people procrastinate because they are afraid. You’ll have to check in with what you really want, but if you are procrastinating because you’re scared that you may fail then you may want to explore why you feel this way. You may want to try working toward this career because sometimes the things that scare us the most are usually the things we need to take action on.

8. Split your plan into actionable weekly steps

You’ll want to chunk each month into weekly actionable steps. That means taking the portion plan from the first month and creating one or two weekly actionable steps that gets you moving forward toward your goal.

I use a word document for this, but do whatever works best for you. If you like to use a moleskin or some professional task manager then please use this because you have to use what works best for you.

If your first task is to research what people are saying about your career,  put a time limit on this task. I know I sometimes I get too caught up in the research, which is just me procrastinating on taking action.

9. Take action on your plan

Many people love to create a plan and don’t take action on it. I want you to avoid this trap. You should set a goal each week. If you create a goal of writing a book and you wait until Friday night to write for 10 hours, you won’t get as close to your goal as you hoped.

So creating an actionable plan means creating a style that works for you. If you can only fit in an hour a day then maybe you can reach your goal of 10 hours by writing 2.5 hours on Sunday and Saturday.

10. Review Plan After Three Months

After you’ve been taking action on your plan, you’ll want to take a step back and see if you’ve made a good choice. If you are going back to school for nursing and you realize that you don’t want to be a nurse, it’s better to quit early than stick it out.

I suggest to my career coaching clients that they do two things.

First, they make a list of positives and negatives of their choice and actions. This helps connect with their emotions.

Second, I suggest that they do a quick meditation exercise. I have them set a timer for just 10 minutes, sit down in a quiet room, close their eyes and visualize themselves working toward their new career, then picture themselves doing this career.

How does this make you feel?

This visualization will help tap into your subconscious feelings and what direction you need to take your plan in.


I’m a big advocate for spending money that will help you grow your career. This is where your research is very important. If you want to become a copywriter, a degree isn’t required. If you want to become a doctor, a degree is required.

You may have to invest some money to find a career that really excites you. I always suggest to my clients to save this for the end of your search when you are more likely to know your new career is a good fit for you.

I also suggest to people who want to become entrepreneurs to spend money to learn from other people. When you buy coaching, a course, or something an expert that you admire has created you see what works for them. It’s also one of the best ways to grow your network and connect with people who have a strong presence in the industry that you want to work in.

Big Picture

Your next career needs to be something that you will enjoy doing. If you try to execute on a 6 month plan and all you are doing is stressing out and not getting anything accomplished,  you have to readjust your plan. It’s important to pick something that you enjoy doing instead of forcing the motivation to happen.

The closer you can get to doing work that aligns with your superpowers the happier you will become.

Your Turn

What do you think I should add to the 10 step process of starting a new career?

“I didn’t leave bodybuilding until I felt that I had gone as far as I could go. It will be the same with my film career. When I feel the time is right, I will then consider public service. I feel that the highest honor comes from serving people and your country.”

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

Image courtesy of victor1558

8 thoughts on “10 Steps to Starting Your Next Career”

  1. Great post, Karl,

    In my list, I also make sure to add:


    If we neglect this important part, then everything we do will be difficult, either now or will pop up later.


  2. Hi, I love your list. I have retired and this article intrigues me. . . what could I do now that I would love? I will be working through your to do list.

  3. Rovie - Career Choice

    This is such an amazing list and I should better read and re-read to make an assessment on my self.

  4. Excellent article and a comprehensive list. I think it is important to keep pushing yourself and taking on new challenges, otherwise you can easily find you get stuck in a rut (eg. a dead end job!).

  5. Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy

    Hi Wendy,

    You are so right! We have to have a solid foundation before we can really create a great career.

  6. Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy

    Hi Peter,

    Hopefully you are enjoying working through this list. If you have any problems just let me know.

  7. Karl Staib - The Work Happy Guy

    Hi Daniel,

    Fear can play a big part in not taking on new challenges. The best way to grow is to push outside our comfort zones and try projects that will test our limits.

Comments are closed.