You are not happy in your current job or career and have finally reached a point where you have decided to make a career change. You also have a few alternative career options in mind but are not sure whether they will be right for you and if they will meet your expectations. What next?

It is natural and common for people to feel uncertain at this stage, which causes them to become stuck and not move forward with their career change plans.

Even if they have a good idea of what they want from a job and have shortlisted a few matching or ideal options, it is hard to make the leap because they have no way of relating to the career options they selected.

Without having done the actual job, it is hard to really know what it will be like. And no matter how much you research on the Internet or in the library, it is all too theoretical.

The best way to know what career is right for you is by doing the actual work involved. However, this is not a feasible and practical option, since you cannot be employed in all the jobs you have shortlisted. Nor can you try them out as you wish.

Therefore, the solution is to go for the next best option, in order to get a first-hand feel of what a job is really like. This can be done by “reality testing”, which involves conducting small, low-risk experiments to get a better idea of potential career options.

Reality testing takes you beyond introspection and theoretical research, into an action mode, which is beneficial. It moves you from saying, “I think I might like this job” closer to “I know I will like this job”. Some ways you can reality-test are:

•  Internships: Work in the job for a few months;

•  Job shadow: Tag along with someone who does the job you want, for a day or a week;

•  Volunteer: Offer your services for free for a short period of time (part-time especially);

•  Projects: Take on projects (in your current job or outside) which have aspects or elements of the type of work you want;

•  Join relevant clubs or associations: Build a network and take part in activities which are closely related to your job target;

•  Participate in workshops, courses and seminars: Learn more about your job target and meet people who know more about it; and

•  Just meet people for a chat: It is also useful to get to know people who are actually doing (or have done) the job you are interested in, and find out if the job is really what you expect it to be.

By going a step further and “reality testing” your career options, you will decrease your level of uncertainly and ambiguity, be more certain of your choices and finally know the answer to that nagging question — “What career is right for me?”

Article by Kate Smedley,an associate writer with Sandbox Advisors, a firm which helps people with  careers, job search and training in Singapore.