Have you been secretly daydreaming about going to graduate school? Or wondering if your boss sees you as a good candidate for a position slightly ahead of yours?
Make 2015 the year you bring these ideas out into the open! Taking one small step toward exploring them — whether it’s browsing graduate program websites or mapping out a conversation with your boss — isn’t just empowering. It also helps release the anxiety that builds up when you keep your desires hidden.
Here are several other small steps you can take now for the top three lifestyle changes I’ve found most of my clients usually worry about:
1. Graduate School
Ordering information packets from potential graduate school programs can help you become aware of whether or not graduate school feels like the right move for you. Also consider asking for informational interviews with alumni from the programs that interest you. You can easily find alumni by searching your program of interest on LinkedIn and seeing which alumni have shared connections with you. Even if you don’t have shared connections, consider sending a simple LinkedIn message to a few alumni of interest. You may be pleasantly surprised by the responses, but even if you never hear back, you have nothing to lose by asking.
2. A Career Change
The best way to figure out if a career transition is really the best next step for you is by talking to people who are doing what you want to do. Start by seeing if you have any LinkedIn connections who can introduce you to people who have your ideal job. Also get in touch with your alma mater’s alumni relations center to see if they can connect you with people in your desired field. Joining your local chamber of commerce and then attending the special interest groups for your field of interest is another great way to meet people in your desired field. You can also attend networking events you find through Meetup or similar websites.
Sometimes my clients feel relieved when I give them homework like this because they can reach out to their networks and say, “My career coach is asking me to reach out and arrange at least 3 informational interviews next month.” But the truth is that people will be even more impressed if you simply assert that you’re doing this out of your own will. Remember what Wayne Gretzky said: You lose 100% of the shots you don’t take!
3. A Promotion
Many companies promote at the beginning of the year, so if there’s a position you’ve been eyeing, set a meeting with your boss to discuss it. Jot down several questions to ask, such as, “What would I need to start doing now if I wanted to target position X as a future promotion?”
Many of my clients are pleasantly surprised to find out that their boss actually finds their eagerness and interest in taking on leadership positions refreshing. The worst-case scenario: You’re told that advancing is not an option, in which case, it’s good to get that information now so you can start planning your next move elsewhere.
The first step to unexplored questions about your career is simply to begin the process of gathering information so you can decide your next move for yourself rather than let time go by and have decisions made for you. Trust me, you’ll feel so empowered once you start going after what you really want, you’ll never regret it.