By Linda Tancs
For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. —Ecclesiastes 5:3
For many, that dream involves a transition from one career to another—and all the associated stress and anxiety. Can I succeed outside my comfort zone? Do I have the technical and educational skill sets to find viable employment in another capacity? How will I manage my fears and expectations and those of friends and family? Take heart. There are many things you can do to prepare for a rewarding second career. With a little God-guided introspection, you can retool your career to align with who you were created to be.
First, take stock of your skills. First Corinthians 12 reminds us that each of us has been given unique abilities to accomplish His will, such as the ability to give wise counsel, heal, speak foreign languages or possess specialized knowledge. List your own skills according to categories such as organizational talent, problem-solving prowess, managerial skill and oral and written communication abilities. Note the environments in which these skills are deployed—at home, at work, in your community. Your task, then, is to determine how your skills are related to serving God. After all, only skills used in advancing the Kingdom of God will yield a satisfying result. Is your track record more aligned with material success or service to others? As Ecclesiastes 5:10 (NIV) warns, “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”
Second, consider how your career moves have impacted your life. Proverbs 20:5 (NIV) says, “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” Indeed, as the saying goes, you can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. What are your five most significant achievements and defeats? Which actions are you willing to own on your part that brought about those successes or failures? Understanding what it is that brings about a successful result for you will give you the confidence to try new waters. Conversely, finding your weak spots will show you what needs work to avoid making the same mistakes in a different milieu. Do you need help identifying your strengths and weaknesses? Pray for guidance. Take your questions and concerns to God first, and the answer may come through a trusted friend or colleague who knows you well.
Third, build a transition plan. Putting thoughts into words and words into actions will help you manage your anxiety. How much do you know about your target occupation? Where can you go to learn more? Are there business or behavioral competencies you need to acquire to make it work? Proverbs 21:5 says that the plans of the diligent lead to profit. Think about where you see yourself in five or ten years, but remember to leave room for God to change those plans. In all likelihood, that’s why you’re in transition in the first place.