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In your career you will have plenty of exciting opportunities but fear of change can often hold you back. If you are stuck in a job rut, want to change profession or have been made redundant this could be the time to take stock and build on your existing skills or even pursue that new career direction. The key to change is a positive attitude. This article will help you assess your good points, think about your ambitions and prepare yourself for a bright new future.

You know it is time for change when:

• You don't want to tell people what you do for a living.
• You haven't learnt anything new in the past year.
• You don't like the people you work with.
• You feel it is an effort to go to work.
• It is a struggle to survive on your current income.
• You can't see where your next move is in your current company.
• The people you know working for other organisations doing the same job as you earn more money and get more job satisfaction.
• You dislike the commute to work.
• You feel tired and bored all the time.

How open are you to change? Do you welcome it as an opportunity to improve your career and make new moves? Or does change make you feel frightened, resistant or vulnerable? For most people change provokes a mix of emotions.

If you are stuck in a rut, you may be longing for some new challenges but nervous about taking that step into the unknown. It is of course much easier to cope with change when you've instigated it. When it comes as an unwelcome surprise, in the form of a redundancy or relocation it may be hard to see the positive in the situation. Being forced out of your comfort zone can be scary but it helps if you can see even unplanned change as a great opportunity because like it or not we all live in a changeable work environment.

Technological advances have changed work dramatically. Fifteen or 20 years ago you would have expected to leave school or university and go straight into a job where you would stay until retirement. Now the notion of a job for life has gone and with that the trend of short-term contracts, part-time and freelance work is increasing.

Adapting to change

The best way to manage change is to anticipate it. Keep an eye out for future trends and the way they might affect your job/role. Be realistic about your job. Does your job have a future or is it in a dying industry? Has your company made people redundant recently? What would you do if it was you next time? Start to expect the unexpected.

Adaptability is vital. The work world is changing so must you. Are you keeping your skills up to date? Your aim is to build a portfolio of skills that are suitable for different jobs/roles. The more you adjust and learn the less vulnerable you become.

Assess your skills and expertise regularly. How do they fit in with current market? You see most people don't plan their career until they hit a crisis in it. When this happens the mind isn't that clear as the emotions get in the way. So the person looks for a short term solution or a short term fix which may not be as satisfactory in the long run.

Changing Job

Only make a move if you are ready to do so. Pressure from colleagues can make you feel that you should move on when you may actually be happy where you are. If your job is interesting, pays well and offers you training opportunities and career progression, why rush to leave it? But if you stay put too long you may lose your confidence to make a career move.

The best thing is to list the pros and cons of staying where you are. For example,

Reasons for staying

• The company is recognised in its field
• You have a great boss who is committed to seeing you progress in your career
• You have good training opportunities.

Reasons for leaving

• Your boss has been there for years and you feel as if you are waiting for 'dead man's shoes'
• The company is being bought out
• Your work is boring and routine.

What do you really want job-wise?

The key is to focus your mind on what you really want. Which aspects of your job do you want to carry on doing? Which aspects of your job do you want to let go of? Do you want to earn more money? Are you after a job promotion or a sideways move?

Do your homework

Set aside some time to do a self appraisal. You have to assess yourself carefully before deciding what to do next or you could fill in a personality profile to help you. List down on a piece of paper what you value about work, your core skills, your personal strengths and your ambitions. What did you learn about yourself? Try to talk to others in the same profession or job you want. Concentrate on your action plan not on what's gone wrong in the past - especially if you have been made redundant. Remember it's the job and skills that have been made redundant, not you. Don't feel like a failure it happens to most people in their career.

Remember fear is universal and change is scary. However isn't it more scary to spend your whole life stuck in a rut or not doing what you want to be doing? Try and handle change now and meet the challenge head on rather than look back and regret all of those missed opportunities. If you need help with your job change
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