Believe us: We understand the allure of your comfy sofa at the end of a long workday.
But when you’re collapsing into the cushions full of frustration over a job that isn’t suiting your needs—or is just plain making you miserable—you’re going to need to make a bigger change than the channel you’re watching.
No one knows more about creating the momentum needed to launch yourself off that sofa and into the right career than Christie Mims, founder of The Revolutionary Club, a career-coaching destination, featuring advice, international retreats and one-on-sessions with Mims. Before founding her site, Mims was stuck in a job she didn’t love (which just so happened to be managing million-dollar portfolios as a consultant). In her search for something that truly made her happy, she earned a B.A., an M.A., certifications as a mediator and counselor … as well as applied to shoe design school and planned a potential leadership institute with the Marines. But her path, however twisted, led her to her dream job.
So we asked Mims to share her five best tips to get off the couch and onto the right career path for you.
1. Get Ready to Listen
Where do you even start zeroing in on a new career? When Mims felt trapped, she says, “I told everyone close to me. Constantly. That habit made me really fun at parties—if you define ‘really fun’ as boring, annoying and sarcastic.” It wasn’t until she started listening instead of talking that she started feeling energized.
“I told myself that I didn’t need to have all of the answers now—all I had to do was take people out for coffee and listen, and the answers would slowly come,” Mims remembers. “It seems obvious, but it was a real ‘eureka’ moment for me.” She found that she left her meetings feeling like she was moving forward; learning about new industries and jobs made her worry less about finding the “right” job and more like exploring a wider range of opportunities.
To Do Right Now: Invite one or two people you don’t see often for coffee to chat about their work. Instead of expressing your dissatisfaction, take advantage of the opportunity to hear more about their jobs, career paths and advice. Ask them: “What is it that you love about your job? How did you end up in your position or at your company? What advice do you have for someone looking to work in the same field? What do you wish someone had told you about your job before you started?”
2. Find a Career Co-Conspirator
There’s a reason that workout buddies exist: If you’ve ever sauntered right past the gym while whistling Dixie and looking the other way, when you’d promised yourself you’d sweat your butt off that night, you know it’s easy to let yourself down … and a lot harder to let a friend down.
Now here’s the career version: Take advantage of that built-in motivator and grab a like-minded friend (or co-worker) to encourage you to find your next job. “It’s the good old buddy system in action,” explains Mims. “And it could be just the push you need to get off the couch.” The idea? Between the two of you, you have double the amount of eyes, double the LinkedIn connections and a built-in partner next time you don’t want to head to a networking event alone.
To Do Right Now: Make a mental inventory of everyone you know who might be the right career buddy for you. Then, before you ask if they’re willing, find the perfect networking event for you both to attend, and shoot off an email saying, “So, are you up for this?"
3. Plan Your 3 Critical Musts
Mims recalls the feeling she had years ago, sitting at her desk feeling like, “I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.” She had fallen into her job and stayed there, going through the motions year after year without really thinking about whether it was what she really wanted to do.
If she were to do it again, Mims says, she would have sat down and listed out the three “critical musts”—in other words, three steps she could have taken to advance her career that year. “What were the three big things that I wanted to do to make a change for the better?” she asks. “If I had gotten clear on that, I could have made a plan and done something about it instead of staying in a job I didn’t love.”
To Do Right Now: Set your phone timer for ten minutes, take a blank sheet of paper and list your three musts for the next 12 months: Promotion? Raise? Shorter commute? More time to spend with your kids? Once you decide, Mims recommends listing the steps you need to take below each one. Do you need to talk to your boss? Do you need to find a continuing education course in your field? “You don’t have to spend three hours thinking about this,” she says. “Just try it for 10 minutes at a time and see where that gets you.”
4. Dissect Your Ideal Job
If Mims could have done anything before she found coaching, she says, she would have wanted to be a judge on “America’s Next Top Model.” It’s not that she loved fashion or dreamed of appearing on television—there were specific, realistic characteristics of that job that she found appealing.
“When I picked apart my Top Model dream, I realized that what I wanted was freedom to travel, the ability to help and coach people, some glamour in my life and fun,” Mims recalls. “I didn’t really want to be a judge—I just wanted certain things about that lifestyle.” Her current job, she says, fulfills all of the above.
To Do Right Now: Ask yourself: If you could do any job at all right now, what would you do? (Remember: No boundaries!) Write down the first thing that pops into your head, and start breaking it down. What does someone in that position do? What do her days look like? What skills does he have or need? Then go through and mark off which aspects of this job most appeal to you. In your job hunt going forward, keep these in mind.
5. Remember to Dream Big
Mims warns against consistently planning only one step ahead. “We dream about a 3% increase or a few more vacation days,” she says, “and we forget to dream about work that we love or what would make us feel crazy alive in the world.”
She points out that when the little things start weighing on your mind—you’re tired, you have bills to pay, you’re overbooked—it’s hard to find the energy to start making bold career statements rather than just focusing on your next raise or presentation.
“But here’s the thing,” Mims says. “You are the person who cares the most for your career. You have an impossible, exciting, awesome and incredible goal hidden inside you. It may be five years out, it may be 10 years out, but it’s out there.” And it’s up to you to figure out what it is.
To Do Right Now : Spend 15 minutes dreaming big—what would you do if there wasn’t anything standing in your way? And more important, how would you get there? Now, instead of just jotting down notes, write it like an essay in the past tense—how you get from where you are now to your ultimate goal.
“Making it into a story, even if it feels really far-fetched, is a great way to convince your mind of what is possible,” explains Mims. “It’s an underhanded way to get you thinking positively about your potential, and more important, to get you thinking about opportunity.” So go ahead: Start thinking big.