Feeling unhappy and unfulfilled at work is one thing: Knowing what to do instead is something else completely. At this point, most people probably realize that there’s no such thing as a “dream job,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the only other option is sticking with a job you hate. The hard part (well, one of the hard parts) is figuring out what a career change might look like.
According to Ingrid Goldbloom Bloch, founder of Mosaic Careers, one way to do that is to approach a potential career change as if you were designing a new product. Here’s what to know about this strategy.
In a series of webinars for Harvard Extension School, Bloch discussed why design thinking can be useful when rethinking a career. If you haven’t come across the term before, “design thinking” can refer to the process used to come up with a new product to meet specific consumer needs, or, more broadly, an approach to problem-solving that focuses on the solution to a problem rather than of the problem itself.
According to Bloch, here’s how you can use the four stages of design thinking to navigate a potential career change:
- Empathize: Take an honest look at your goals, the challenges that intimidate you the most, and any upcoming major milestones that may necessitate some type of career change. Question your negative thoughts and the assumptions behind them.
- Define: Figure out what career-related problem you want to solve, and whether it’s actually something within your control, and feasible at this point in your life. Be as specific as possible instead of seeing your problem as “being unhappy” or “not following your heart.” Identify something actionable, defining the problem in terms of what you can do to solve it.
- Ideate: Do some creative brainstorming, allowing yourself to use your imagination. Then, give your ideas at least some consideration, without immediately dismissing those that may seem more far-fetched. Ask others for their insights.
- Prototype and test: Mistakes and failure are part of the process, so when they happen, consider them learning experiences, take what you’ve gained from them, and move on to your next idea—knowing that this means you’re on the right track. Also, rather than trying to find one overall solution to your problem, break them down into smaller, more actionable goals.
If you’re interested in learning more, a recording of one of Bloch’s webinars is available on YouTube.