About ten years ago, I made the most significant transition of my life. I went from a service-based business to a product-based one. I can’t say the transition was easy; I had to do a lot of deep work and soul searching to make the move.
COVID has forced a vast majority of people to rethink their career paths and transition or pivot. I felt a calling to share my story and experience on transitioning from one career to another.
I have worked as a travel agent since I was 17, first helping my father run his travel agency in Iran and then managing my own in Canada. The travel industry was in my blood; I was born into it. I was a travel agent before there was an online booking option, even for travel agents. Oh, good old times.
This job was exciting, addictive and actually very pleasant until all of a sudden, it wasn’t. When 911 happened, and discount online booking websites started showing up, I noticed that the spark was all gone.
Here I was at the age of 37 with two little ones and almost 20 years of experience in the travel industry looking to do something else, a new adventure, something different. I had attempted to change my career several times by then without any success; I would fall into the trap of answering phone calls and taking travel clients until I did the following.
This is a step-by-step guide I developed to figure out my strengths, likes and dislikes and release myself from old career patterns by only gaining knowledge and experience from the past. Only by this formula, I was able to acquire a new life path that was better suiting.
Dissect the old job
What I mean by this is to write down every single detail that you would do in your job—all the responsibilities and tasks and even interactions with customers or colleagues.
Pinpoint the highlights
From the list above, mark the ones that, for any reason, stand out for you.
Write down all the reviews and praises.
Then go over the feedback you received from your colleagues or customers. Write them down and try to find a pattern in that; most of the time, we receive praise within our strength profile.
Write down the excellent feeling memories.
Now write down the times you felt good at doing your job. What was it that you were doing? Who were you when you felt that way? Who were you with, or what was the work environment when you felt this way?
Compare and Narrow down
In this step, go over all the answers you have, compare them and narrow down your answers. Choose two or three tasks or talents that stand out the most for you and that completing them felt genuinely good at the time.
Congratulations, you found your strength, and with that, you can decide what your next career move is.
For me, it turned out that I really liked the human connection, the continuous learning and puzzle-solving challenges. Also, surprisingly, working with numbers and bookkeeping, I would not know this if I didn’t do this exercise. After this practice, I was able to detach my identity as a travel agent from my interests and choose my next move, which is another story on its own. But when that time came around July of 2010, I stopped answering travel related calls even when I hadn’t made money off my new business yet.
Are you trying to transition from one career to another? Share your experience with us on how to make the transition in the comments.