The Career Reinvention Question You Need to Ask

If you’re eager to switch fields in midlife, follow the 'What?' with 'Why?'

by Nancy Collamer • Next Avenue
women with question marks illustration image

As a career coach who helps clients switch fields, I’m always asking lots of questions. Things like: What types of people to you like to work with? What are your strongest skills? What did you love to do as a child?

The Problem With Asking 'What?'
The answers to those queries provide insights into the key factors – like skills, interests and values – that are important to consider when choosing a second act. But these types of “what” questions, while useful, are often very limiting.

(MORE: The Key to a Successful Career Shift: Asking for Help)

To really assist people who want to reinvent their careers, I always dig deeper and follow up the “What?” by asking “Why?”

You should ask yourself the “Why” questions too if you’re contemplating going into a new field in midlife. For example:

  • You like to facilitate meetings. Why?
  • You enjoy working with the elderly. Why?
  • You love reading historical fiction. Why?

Why You Should Ask Yourself 'Why?'
Why is asking “Why?” so important?

Simon Sinek, author of the bestselling book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, says every career functions on three levels: What you do, how you do it and why you do it.

Everyone knows what they do and some people know how they do it but very few people understand why they do it.

When you understand why you do what you do – and why you like what you like – it then becomes much easier to target potential careers that align with your personality, motivations and interests.

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Photo courtesy of Erinphoto10/

First Published Thu, 2013-06-06 10:44

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