Fast Track: I want to be more creative

Help Desk: Your career problems solved by the experts
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The problem

I am a very frustrated and disillusioned 30-year-old male, working in business development for a Japanese trading house. I am looking for guidance in terms of a switch in occupations - which would allow me to utilise my existing skills. I have a very good degree; several years' experience in sales/marketing /analysis; have worked abroad for the Government; have good Japanese language ability; and many interests beyond the workplace. My strength lies in my ability to communicate, organise, research and generate ideas. Ideally, I would love to get my creative side into gear. I have considered investigative journalism or something else media related - but I believe this may mean studying full-time again. Is a complete change a good idea?

Andy Gomez, Surrey

The solutions

Sean Keeley, director of Psychometric Service Ltd (PSL) (0181-421 0115), says:

The words "frustrated" and "disillusioned" suggest you do need change. However, before doing so, you must find out where your real strengths lie, by gaining an objective view. Career advisers and occupational psychologists can help. Using psychometric instruments, they can assess your abilities, personality traits and interests, and give you a better idea of likely success in a variety of occupational areas, as well as highlight areas that you didn't know existed. Make your choice on the basis of as much information as possible.

David Pedley, managing director of Wessex Training Ltd (01202-767176), says:

An old Zen saying states: "Man stands in his own shadow and wonders why it's dark." We all reach these shadow zones periodically, and need to realise how and why we have placed ourselves there. Unless we discover and act on the answers, the same frustrations have the potential to re- emerge. Our disillusionment is our dissatisfaction with the results of our own efforts, or lack of them, to influence a situation. So why not let your creative potential get into gear now and experiment, to discover new ways of getting real satisfaction out of your present career? Real personal satisfaction is emotional involvement - really caring about what we do. The alternatives are to walk away when the going gets tough, or to deny ourselves the right to job satisfaction.

Paul Roscorla, occupational psychologist, Acker Deboeck, says:

Changing career direction often requires study, has serious financial implications and - as people often forget - means rebuilding all your contacts. People know you as a business developer and you know people in that world. Talk this over with them - they might offer you another job! Be realistic in terms of the sacrifices you are prepared to make. Is the problem really the specific role you have? The comforting thing is that you describe yourself as qualified and talented. Once you have thought this through, identify actual job opportunities. Take action and stop mentally chewing this over.

If you have a work problem and want expert advice, write to Carmen Fielding, Fast Track, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL; fax 0171-293 2451; e-mail