1. Imagine the Future
Think about what you’d like to be doing five years down the line. Do you see yourself in the same role or somewhere different? You might change your views along the way, but a specific target gives you something to aim for. For example, you may enjoy what you’re doing, but you know that you want to be in a more senior position in five years.
2. Play with Your Options Even with limited funds you can realise your dreams. The secret is planning, so list two or three life options on paper.
For instance: stay in the same place but with a better job; fulfil your heart’s desire by selling Harley Davidsons; move abroad and be self-employed. Then ask yourself a few key questions: what can you afford to do? What skills do you need? Think creatively, as well as practically.
3. Pinpoint Your Skills Shortfall
If, say, you want to move to the countryside and be self-employed, you’ll need to be able to drive; it will also help if you’re at ease making friends. Of course, you’ll have to be able to earn money too.
Income could be generated by anything from gardening to computer consultancy to dinner-party catering. Read magazines aimed at people doing what you want to do and check the back pages for details of relevant courses.
4. Get Some Experience
Volunteer for training courses at work. Is there an institute for your field of interest that provides further training? If you’re in a union, speak to a rep about available training. You could also shadow someone who’s doing the kind of thing you’re interested in. If you’re thinking about changing professions, try to get experience in that area – for instance if you want to write for a living, offer articles to your local paper or a website.
5. Upgrade Your Computer Skills
Age UK runs introductory courses and Learndirect has details of 900,000 courses of all types around the UK. Computer training, in particular, can make you a more appealing employee – try the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) and Computer Literacy and Information Technology (CLAIT). Both introduce you to computers and familiarise you with the internet, email, word processing, spreadsheets and databases.
6. Check What
Rivals are Doing Competition between organisations and individuals is one of the great engines of progress. Employees should see what staff training rival companies offer – it’s a powerful way to persuade your boss to develop you further. If you’re a one-man band, find out what competitors are up to. Painter and decorator Dave Parnell, 60, says, ‘I need to know about new equipment to keep up with the latest techniques, so I talk to suppliers regularly.’
7. Call a Recruitment Agent
If you want a new job – or you want to ensure you’re doing yours to the best of your ability, get an independent ity check from a recruitment agent. They will tell you frankly what your chances are in the job market, and in which areas your skills are weak.
8. Embrace Change
How you look sends out a powerful message and can transform your view of yourself too. Jo Bond of Right Coutts, a human resources consultancy, says you need to ask yourself, ‘Do I look like someone living in 2010 or 1986?’ But it’s not just about how you look. You can also keep up with change by finding out about iPods, Skype (a system for making phone calls through your computer) and other technological developments. Reducing your fear of change is important and will give you more confidence. Read magazines (including those for 20-somethings) and watch TV that’s not on your normal viewing list to find out what new gadgets and trends the younger generation are talking about and trying out.
9. Think Modern
Being able to communicate across generations in a working environment means learning to talk in a relaxed way to 20 and 30 somethings. John Mattock, 56, of business communications consultancy, Right Brain Training, says, ‘30-year-olds will, in general, be literal-minded due to their more specific, vocational education and young managers value ideas for their immediate relevance.’ Also, younger people tend to have shorter attention spans, so consider updating your presentation style or the way you contribute to meetings.
10. Choose a Role Model
Study the techniques of people who are successful. What is it in their behaviour that makes them so? How can you incorporate it into your approach? ‘Find a role model who has achieved a career change and watch them,’ says Jo Bond, ‘or befriend someone of a similar age and profile to you. It can be reassuring and inspiring.’ If you choose a good role model, you will probably learn far more than just technical points; you will also see, in practice, the importance of dress, presentation, optimism, goal-setting and getting on with other people.
Image: © Yuri Arcurs, shutterstock.com