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A Career Changer's Checklist - 12 Common-Sense Questions to Find Your Career: What Can You Do? (Restrictions!)

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In this third question in his Career Changers' Checklist, Warren Wyrostek helps you come to terms with the obstacles, limitations, and restrictions that everyone must face when searching for the ideal career. He analyzes the top 10 restrictions facing career changers and shares strategies to deal with those limitations. He closes with a formula for determining what you can do in a volatile work environment.
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Over the course of the last two articles in this series, the Career Changer's Checklist, you looked at your career by asking these diagnostic questions:

Now that you have explored these key questions, you have to become realistic:

  • What can you do?

In other words, what are the restrictions or obstacles that prevent you from landing your ideal job or career? To phrase it another way:

  • What's stopping you?
  • What's getting in your way of getting the job or career that you like and want?
  • What are your limitations?

By way of introduction to this discussion, I want to refer to a question I asked you to ponder in the discussion about what you want to do.

The question was this:

  • What would you do with your career (life) if you could do anything you wanted and there were no obstacles?

This is a very idealistic way of considering this question. But when reality is brought into the mix, and the truth is told, there are always obstacles or limitations that get in the way.

And when you analyze your career options, you have to look at the landscape both from an idealistic frame of reference and a realistic one.

In this article, I'll be cold, hard, and realistic.

We all have limitations, restrictions, or obstacles that get in the way of us reaching our goals. In this article, you'll explore some of the things that stop you from moving on as you start or change careers.

Just as discussed in earlier articles, this question is not unique to those pursuing a career in IT. Every sector—and every person in every sector—has things that prevent forward movement.

I'll not only look at what the obstacles or restrictions are but I'll also discuss some of the ways you can combat those pesky issues.

The problem is that as adults we are experts at compiling all the reasons why we can't do something we want. And many of us have major problems seeing past what's getting in our way.

So what is stopping you? Think about it. I want you to confront the obstacles, the restrictions. You have to confront your fears and the other obstacles and limitations that are holding you back if you want to move forward.

As you move through answering this question, as you did with the earlier questions, write down the things that come to mind in your Word document so that you can compile a list of your obstacles or restrictions.

If you can identify these obstacles, then you can come up with a plan to get past them and move on to a successful career. I am positive about that. I have seen it in my life.

So write down what's stopping you from getting the job or career that you are dreaming about. You can then honestly and realistically answer the question: What can you do?

Bring on the obstacles, the restrictions, the limitations!

What Are Your Restrictions?

If you want to really succeed as you change careers, you have to identify what you can do by coming to terms with your personal limitations or obstacles—those things that are holding you back or stopping you.

Limitations come in number of categories. Some are easily identified and some are quietly hiding in the corner.

Here are two broad categories of career limitations or obstacles:

  • Actual vs. perceived
  • External vs. Internal

Some obstacles that we encounter as we make a career change are actual, real live issues. No one has a problem identifying them. They are standing there in the way of you making the transition to the ideal job.

You may have already identified what you want and what you like. You have your sights set on this job of a lifetime. But there is one or more obstacles standing in your way.

On the other hand, sometimes there are obstacles that are not quite that obvious, but are perceived. You see the obstacle, but it is not obvious to anyone else. This is a frame of reference restriction or limitation.

For example, you have found a great job as a Project Manager close to your home, paying a great salary, with a top-notch, stable company with a good reputation. You meet all the qualifications, except that you do not have the PMP certification, which is an advertised requirement. That is an actual limitation or restriction that no one can deny.

A perceived restriction might be the following. You want to get into an Ivy League graduate school. You have a strong undergraduate degree and have done well on the Graduate Record Exam. You meet all the advertised requirements, but you doubt you will get in because your family is a blue-collar, working-class family. And when push comes to shove, the Ivy League school will look for white-collar students.

That may or may not be true. You don't know it for sure, but you suspect it. Perception is often ground in rumor and innuendo.

Should you bow to that perceived restriction, or should you give it your best shot to land a place in this school? Is perception everything?

And then there are external forces or restrictions that come from outside your sphere of influence and internal forces that are often self-imposed. Both can keep you from moving ahead.

I had an encounter with an external force several years ago, when I was running a Novell Gold Training Partnership. I was not only a trainer but also the owner of a training company that was a sole proprietorship. It was great.

I was going from client site to client site, offering authorized instruction, cutting down on the client's need to travel to a brick-and-mortar building.

Then Novell changed the rules and required that I erect a brick-and-mortar establishment to teach their courses. My model was no longer accepted. I had to deal with an external force, a corporate restriction.

I went round and round with the person in charge of the program and he would not budge. So I dropped being a Gold Training Partner and went back to simply being an instructor. The external force won for a while.

But things change, and so did the corporate understanding of what I was doing. I am still not back to being a Training Partner, but I am working closely with a new partner who is offering online classes, virtually for Novell.

There are ways to deal with restrictions, especially externally imposed restrictions. Internal forces or limitations are bit tougher to handle because you have to deal with something that is self-imposed.

For example, you might want to go into medicine or become a member of a new club, the Healthcare Informatics. You love IT and you have heard that healthcare is the place to be.

But you cannot stand the sight of blood, sick people, or obnoxious medical professionals. Well! You have an internally imposed limitation that you have to deal with.

The same is true if you're a doctor who loves medicine, but you can't stand dealing with patients. (And boy have I dealt with a ton of these folks over the years!) No bedside manner.

What do you do? You have an internal limitation that prevents you from succeeding in the workforce. One thing doctors like this do today is either go into research, in which they can do medicine but not interact with patients; or go into Healthcare Informatics, in which they can deal with medical data and equipment, but not deal with patients.

Another example is lawyers who don't want to be in a courtroom (an internal limitation). They can now go into journalism or politics and make a good career for themselves.

There are always options. Just identify the limitations.

Based on the discussion so far, write down any internal or external forces that may be stopping you from getting your dream job.

Also write down any actual or perceived limitations that you have encountered. This list will help as you begin to laundry list 10 very common things that dictate what you can do as you move toward your new career.

Remember that as you move through this list, I'm giving you my take on these restrictions. Write down your thoughts and ideas, in your own language and based on your experience so that you can identify what is holding you back.

Above all else, be honest! This list will help you diagnose your situation and your career options.

The top 10 career restrictions!

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