Not sure about changing careers? Try a “no, thank you” bite.

Growing up, I was fortunate to have a mother who cooked often and often cooked many different meals. As a result, there would be things I did NOT want to eat, like main dishes or sides that did NOT look or smell very appetizing. But she would insist that my brothers and me try at least one bite. Most of the time, it tasted better than it looked, and as a result, I am now a “foodie” who loves to try new foods. (Thanks, Mom!)

My wife and I implemented the same rule with our kids, calling it a “No, thank you” bite. They had to take at least one bite so that they could decide if they liked it or not. If not, they just had to say “No, thank you,” and they could pass on that item and move on to the rest of the meal.

I see this happening in life, sometimes, but it starts in reverse. For example, people see jobs or careers or hobbies that they think they would like, and then invest time and money (i.e. education and training) only to be disappointed. This then gets them stuck and prevents them from considering or trying other things because they’ve “been burned before”. So, what if we could have a “no thank you” bite? What if we could get a taste of something to determine if it’s really something we want more of? With all of the resources available today, I submit that we can. Here’s how:

  1. Know yourself. What activities and tasks do you enjoy performing? What are the strengths, talents and gifts that you enjoy using and make the time fly by when you are? What are your personality tendencies that reveal the types of interaction and work environments that you respond to? (A DISC assessment is a great tool for this type of insight.)
  2. Do your homework. There are a ton of resources online to do career research. When you see a job or career that appeals to you, make a list of the reasons why. What do you perceive to be the pros and cons of that career? When you envision yourself in that job, what are you doing and why are you enjoying it?
  3. Interview someone doing that job. Ask them to coffee or buy them lunch and tell them you want to learn more about what they do. This is your chance to take your list of pros/cons from step 2 and confirm with the interviewee whether your perception matches their reality. If it doesn’t, this is your chance to thank them for their time, and say “No thank you” to yourself and that career. If there is a match, one more step could seal the deal, which is:
  4. Spend a day in the life. Ask that person if you could shadow them for a day to see what a day in their life at work is really like. Obviously, this will depend on how well you know them and how much rapport you’ve built during step 3, but it is an option you could consider. Also, if the person is already a friend or acquaintance, then you’ve already got a foot in the door potentially.

Bottom line: whether it’s your first career or your next career, there is a lot you can do to determine if you want more of it, or if you’ve tasted enough to say “no thank you”.

Have you ever interviewed or job-shadowed someone for a job that interested you? What did you discover and how did it help you?

For your advantage,

Brian

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