Do Your New Year’s Resolutions Include a New Career?


At the start of a new year, most people resolve to give up something such as cigarettes or cinnamon buns.

If you’re unhappy with your job, why not give that up too?

I’m not suggesting that you give up working altogether, just that you consider making a new years resolution to find a job you’ll love.

According to a 2013 survey, only 14 percent of workers feel they have their dream job, and more than half want a career change.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive for the University of Phoenix, found a whopping 80 percent of 20-somethings want to change careers, along with 64 percent of workers in their 30s and 54 percent of those in their 40s.

Not surprisingly, those who already have a fabulous job won’t be making a resolution to give it up. In a survey by Accountemps, executives were asked, If you were to make a career-related New Years resolution, what would it be? Only 7% of the executives chose make a career change.

Executives’ top choices for career-related New Years resolutions were acquire a new skill (chosen by 31%) and spend less time at work (chosen by 19%).

Both of the executives’ top choices for resolutions are worth considering no matter where you are on the corporate ladder. But if you’re not as high up that ladder as you want to be, chances are you’re much more likely to want a career change than the executives do.

One of the biggest challenges facing career changers is deciding on a new career. Many of the people who tell me they want a new career, don’t know which one they should pursue. The following are typical of questions has received on this topic:

I have been in the accounting field for 10 years and am so ready to do something else. I really am not sure what that something else is. One day I think writing a book would be the perfect thing. The next day it would be opening a boutique, the next day something else. How do I zone in on what would be perfect for me?

At 46 I am really just now seeking a lifetime career. The problem is there are so many things I want to do. I am a singer, a writer, a healer, and a counselor of sorts. Those are a few of my passions. My question is how would you suggest a person go about narrowing down all their possibilities and choosing a field? This is truly a dilemma for me. Help!

Both of these career-seekers are asking the right question: “What do I want to do?” not “What could I do?”

One of the mistakes many people make when choosing a new career is to look only at what they know how to do, or what they do well, and try to select a career on that basis.

However, your skills should not be the only basis for choosing a dream career. After all, if you have a talent for filing paperwork, do you really want to spend the rest of your life as a file clerk? (On the other hand, if you enjoy filing, you could have a dream career as a professional organizer.)

In many cases, even if you have no previous experience, you can learn the skills you need to do a job well enough to get paid to do it. So why not do something you love?

One way to start narrowing down your career choices is by answering some basic questions:

  • What is the first thing that pops into your head in response to the question “What’s the best job in the world?”
  • What did you dream about doing when you were a child?
  • If you could do any job in the world, what would you do?
  • If you could take over anyone’s job for a day, whose job would you choose?
  • If you had all the money you wanted, how would you choose to spend your days?

If you find yourself torn between several career choices, then why not try them on before making a final decision?

First, gather as much information as you can about each of the careers. For example, look for information on the Internet, read books about each career, talk to people working in the career, take classes related to the career, and so on.

If gathering information isn’t enough to give you a clear sense of which career is best for you to pursue at this stage of your life (remember, you can likely pursue some of your other choices later in life), then get some hands-on experience in the career. Ways to get experience include a part-time job, an internship, volunteer work, or even starting your own business.

Identifying your dream career can help you start moving towards a job you love. Instead of wasting your energy going after careers that would be only slightly fulfilling, you can concentrate on one that is ideal for you. And that is certainly a worthwhile resolution for 2014.

Tag Goulet is co-founder of, a publisher of books on how to get started in a dream career, and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College. To contact Tag visit