It’s not uncommon for people to reach a certain stage in their life and start to re-think where they are in their career. The Job Network calls it a “career crossroads” — a point when you ask yourself, “Am I doing what I should be doing?” For cancer patients and survivors, that crossroads is often brought on by news of their diagnosis.
Finding out you have cancer can throw things into stark relief and cause you to really think about how you spend your days — including your time at work. If you’re feeling the need to re-evaluate your employment choices, the steps below, from the Job Network’s article “How to Deal with Coming to a Career Crossroads,” can help.
Do an audit of your professional life: Take a look at your career and ask yourself some questions to better understand why you are where you are and if you’re really in need of a change. For example: Have you been in the same job for a long time? Is there still the potential for growth? Were you happy in your role pre-cancer? Would small adjustments in your job reinvigorate you and make you feel more engaged? Or do you feel as though switching to something else entirely is necessary?
Part of that “audit” should include examining your values as they relate to your career. For example: Is it more important for you to have a job with a flexible schedule (to accommodate doctors appointments and treatments, let’s say)? To do mission-driven work? To be at a specific income level? Being able to answer these questions will help guide you as you determine whether it’s time to embark on a new path.
Be honest about what you want: As you go through the process of answering these questions for yourself, the key thing is that you answer them truthfully. Consider what would make you happy, what you are passionate about, what your ideal job might look like. At the same time, you want to be realistic about what’s involved in making a career change, including whether you have the energy to do it and what the impact would be on your income, health insurance and access to benefits.
Don’t be afraid to get an outside perspective: Talking to others (e.g., friends, former colleagues, people who work in the field you’re targeting) can be extremely beneficial, since it can provide a different perspective on your situation. As The Job Network says, “the act of describing your current frustrations and future goals can help you visualize what you really want to do.”
Create an action plan: If after taking the above steps you determine that you’re ready to make a career change, it’s important to put a plan in place. You’ll want to research fields and companies you’re interested in, make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are current and looking their best, and start networking, which is critical to any job change.
Cancer and Careers has all the resources you need to get you where you want to go: