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Naomi Rothwell-Boyd, February 4 2023

5 First Steps When You Don't Know What Career You Want

Making a career change can be daunting, especially when you don't know what career you want. Even if it feels like the world is against you and all hope seems lost, there are still ways to figure out which path to take in your professional life. If “I don’t know what career I want” has been running through your head lately, this blog post will provide five steps that can help guide you on your journey of self-discovery and exploration.

From starting with the things that do not interest or appeal to you anymore; defining non-negotiables for yourself; researching options that fit within those parameters; brainstorming crazy ideas without judgement; and finally asking around for advice from people who have gone down similar paths - these tips will set you up for success as move towards making a lasting decision about where to take your future.

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Start With What You Don't Want

When it comes to making a career change, the first step is often figuring out what you don’t want. This can be difficult because we are so used to having to make decisions based on what we do want that this idea of starting with what we don’t want can seem counterintuitive. But by taking some time and really reflecting on our current situation, as well as our past experiences, we can start to identify patterns in terms of things that didn’t work for us or weren’t enjoyable.

Define Your Non-Negotiables:

Once you have identified the elements of your current job or career path that you don't like, it's important to define your non-negotiables when considering other options. These could include anything from salary expectations and location preferences to hours worked and commute times. By getting clear about these factors upfront, you will save yourself a lot of time in the long run by eliminating potential options that won't meet your needs right away.

Start Research Options That Still Fit:

Now that you know what kind of job or career path would best suit your needs and lifestyle goals, it's time to start researching options that still fit within those parameters. This may involve looking into different industries or companies where similar roles exist; attending networking events; reading industry news; exploring online resources such as LinkedIn profiles; and even reaching out directly via email or phone calls if necessary. The goal here is not only to find potential opportunities but also get an understanding of how competitive they might be so you can prepare accordingly for any interviews down the line.

Make A Crazy Ideas List:

Don't limit yourself. It's easy (and understandable) when making a big life decision like changing careers to focus solely on practicality—but sometimes taking risks pays off too. Making a list of crazy ideas—no matter how far fetched they may seem at first—can help open up new possibilities and give you something fun (and potentially lucrative.) To explore further down the road if nothing else works out initially.

Last but not least, don't forget about asking around for advice. Chances are there are people in your network who have gone through similar transitions before and might be able to offer helpful insights into their own experiences along with possible leads for jobs or internships related to whatever field interests you most now. Reaching out doesn't hurt either since it gives them an opportunity show off their expertise while helping someone else at the same time; it's a win-win situation all around.

Once you've identified what you don't want in a career, it's time to focus on the non-negotiables that will help you determine your ideal job.

Key Takeaway: When considering a career change, start by defining your non-negotiables and researching options that fit. Don't limit yourself; make a crazy ideas list and ask around for advice from people in your network.

Define Your Non-Negotiables

When you’re considering a career change, it’s important to define your non-negotiables. These are the things that you absolutely must have in order for any job or career path to be worth pursuing. It could be anything from salary requirements and location preferences to hours of work and company culture.

Salary Requirements

Your salary requirements should reflect what is necessary for you to live comfortably and meet your financial obligations. Consider how much money you need each month after taxes, rent/mortgage payments, bills, groceries, etc., then add 10-20% extra as an emergency fund cushion. This will give you a good idea of what kind of salary range would work best for your lifestyle needs.

Location Preferences

Where do you want to live? Do you prefer urban living or rural areas? Are there certain cities or states that appeal more than others? If so, make sure those locations are within reach when searching for new opportunities—you don’t want something too far away if it means having to move away from family and friends who provide support during this transition period.

Hours Of Work

Do not underestimate the importance of working hours when making a career change. Many people overlook this factor until they start their new job only to find out that their expectations were not met—leaving them feeling overworked and overwhelmed with no way out but quitting again. Make sure whatever job opportunity comes up meets your ideal number of working hours per week before committing yourself fully into the role.

Company Culture

Take the time to consider what you want and need in a career, so that when you start researching options, they will fit your non-negotiables. Now let's look at how to research potential career paths.

Key Takeaway: When considering a career change, it's important to define your non-negotiables. These include salary requirements, location preferences, hours of work and company culture. Make sure each job opportunity meets these criteria before committing yourself fully into the role in order to avoid feeling overworked or overwhelmed later on.

Start Research Options That Still Fit

The first step in navigating a career change is to start researching options that still fit your skills and interests. This can be done by making a list of the things you know you don’t want in your next job, such as long hours or travel. Once you have this list, it will help narrow down potential careers that may be a good fit for you.

Next, create a list of non-negotiables for yourself when it comes to what kind of job or industry would make sense for you. Consider factors like salary range, location preferences, and type of work environment that are important to you before narrowing down possible jobs further.

Once these two lists are created, begin researching potential industries and roles within those industries that could match up with both lists. Take some time to read through job descriptions online and talk with people who already work in those fields if possible so they can give insight into what their day-to-day looks like on the job.

It’s also helpful to look at other related positions outside of your current field as well, since sometimes there are transferable skills from one role to another even if they aren't directly related on paper. Don’t forget about professional organisations either; many offer resources such as mentorship programs or networking events which can provide valuable information about different roles available out there in the market today.

Start researching options that still fit your current skills and interests. Make a list of all the possibilities, even if they seem crazy at first, as you may be surprised by what opportunities are out there.

Make A Crazy Ideas List

It can be helpful to make a list of all the crazy ideas that come into your head when considering different paths. This will help you explore possibilities and open up new opportunities for yourself.


The first step in creating your list is brainstorming. Think about what type of job or industry would excite you, what skills and talents do you possess that could be used in other ways? Consider jobs outside of your comfort zone or areas where there may not be as much competition. Make sure to write down every idea no matter how wild it might seem at first.

Research Your Ideas

Once you have made your initial list, start researching each option more deeply. Look into the qualifications needed for certain roles, any special certifications required, salary ranges and potential employers who are hiring in those fields. You may find some of these ideas aren't feasible but others could lead to unexpected opportunities.

Talk To People In The Field

Don't forget to talk with people already working in the field or related industries who can provide valuable insight on their experiences and advice on how best to break into this area if that's something you're interested in doing. Talking with someone who has been through similar changes themselves can also give you an idea of what challenges they faced along the way so that you know what obstacles might arise during yours too.

Take Action On Your List

Finally, take action on some items from your list by applying for positions or attending events related to them such as networking meetups or informational interviews with professionals already working within these fields. This will help you get a better understanding of whether this is something worth pursuing further before committing fully.

Making a crazy ideas list is an excellent way to get the creative juices flowing and explore different career paths. Once you have some ideas, it's time to start asking around for advice from professionals in those fields.

Key Takeaway: Making a career change can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. To make an informed decision, brainstorm ideas, research potential paths, talk to people in the field and take action on your list.

Ask Around For Ideas

When it comes to finding a new career, asking around for ideas can be one of the most helpful steps. It’s easy to get stuck in our own heads and forget that there are other people out there who may have valuable insight into what kind of job would be a good fit for us. Talking with friends, family members, colleagues, or even strangers can help you gain perspective on potential options that you hadn’t considered before.

Start With Your Network

The first step is to start with your existing network—friends and family who know you well and understand your strengths and weaknesses. Ask them if they have any suggestions about possible jobs or industries that might be right for you based on their knowledge of your skillset. You never know when someone will surprise you with an interesting suggestion.

Reach Out To Professionals In The Field

If none of your contacts has any great ideas for a career change, try reaching out to professionals in the field who could offer more specific advice about what it takes to succeed in their industry. You don’t need to ask them directly for a job; just let them know that you’re interested in learning more about their line of work so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not it would be the right move for you.

Attend Networking Events

Networking events are another great way to learn more about different careers without having any prior connections within those fields. These events allow professionals from all kinds of backgrounds come together under one roof so they can share information and resources with each other as well as meet potential employers or employees looking for new opportunities. Don't forget business cards either - these will come in handy later when following up after meeting someone at an event.

Finally, social media platforms like LinkedIn provide access to thousands upon thousands of professionals across many different industries, making researching potential career paths easier than ever before. Take advantage by connecting with individuals whose profiles match up closely with what type of job or career path interests you; this is also a great way to find mentors who could give invaluable advice along the way.

Key Takeaway: Finding the right career for you doesn't have to be a solo journey. Reach out to your network, professionals in the field, attend networking events and use social media platforms like LinkedIn to explore different opportunities and find mentors who can provide invaluable advice.


It can be difficult to figure out what career you want when you don't know where to start. But by taking the time to think about what you don't want, defining your non-negotiables, researching options that still fit and making a crazy ideas list, it is possible to find the right career for yourself. Don't be afraid of asking around for ideas either - talking with people who have been in similar situations or are knowledgeable in different industries can provide valuable insight into potential careers.

With patience and dedication, you will eventually discover the perfect job for yourself even if it seems like an impossible task at first. So take a deep breath and get started on your journey towards finding a fulfilling career - after all, knowing what you don't want is just as important as knowing what I don't know what career i want.

Uncover how to change your career today with our quick assessment quiz even if you don't know where to start - TRY PATHFINDER NOW

Written by

Naomi Rothwell-Boyd


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