As a career coach, I’ve heard many of my clients start with, “Well, I want to do something totally different from what I’ve done so far.” This attitude indicates that you are ready for change. That you want to find a new path because you either don’t like where you are right now or you just can’t imagine that continuing the current direction will lead you to a place you desire.

The urge to change also brings a sense of failure, because you may feel like what you’ve done so far didn’t really matter and was a total waste of your time, money, effort… your life. How should you go about reinventing your career?

What defines you more – your past experiences or your future aspirations?

Here is an exercise for you if you are willing to play a little:

  1. List 5-10 experiences from different parts of your career where you enjoyed creating something of a value for others. Maybe it was a part of your job and maybe you volunteered.
  2. For each of these, describe what it was that you provided to people and how it benefited them. You can also ask this question from another angle – what would they not experience if you didn’t do that for them?
  3. Review what you wrote and highlight the parts that strongly resonate with you.

I’m sure that if you look at all your past experiences that are meaningful to you, you’ll start sensing a pattern. You will see a common way you want to make an impact on the world. And no matter how you navigated your career, what jobs you had or whom you worked for, your core purpose surfaced again and again.

Your PAST is important – it gives clues about what it is that matters to us. What about your FUTURE, then? Well, once you get to that core of what you truly enjoy, the future possibilities are endless. You just need to wake up all your senses and follow the signs. Which brings us to the PRESENT.

The only time you can make a choice is NOW.

So, as much as you look at your past and your future, what really counts is the present moment. Only from being totally focused on what’s happening now, can you take advantage of the opportunities that can take you to your ideal future. And when you know what that core is from the clues in the past, you can easily talk about who you are to everyone around. The people around will help you find and follow the right signs to the future you are hoping for.


Henrieta Riesco is a founder of Intentional Career. She is all about meaningful conversation to empower professionals on their career journey. After experiences of being a teacher and a corporate trainer in Slovakia, a customer advocate and a training consultant for 10+ years at Microsoft, she is comfortable with calling herself a Career Coach. You can follow Henrieta via Twitter, or via her blog.