Having worked with individuals to help them kick start their career change I have identified five main pitfalls that people fall into when they are trying to shift careers. These are all common and easy mistakes, trust me at some point I have fallen into each of these in my own journey. If you are contemplating a career change take a moment for yourself, sit down with a cuppa and read this blog, it could save you lots of time, energy and emotional turmoil and most importantly stop you from repeating the same mistakes over and over. Imagine if you still feel like you do in 12 months’ time, in 2 years’ time or even 5 years’ time.
1. Let go of the urge to search job vacancies
Now I am sure we have all done this at some point. You’ve reached the end of your tether, no longer are you prepared to continue feeling like a square peg in a round hole. Working in an environment that isn’t conducive to who you really are, or feeling under-utilised or unappreciated or just downright bored.
You are seizing the moment and start searching the job vacancies as your way out. But will this really make you feel better or instead are you just papering over the cracks. Yes, you may temporarily feel better as you are doing something about your situation, but the chances are you may find some temporary relief but actually, within 12 months you are likely to be in a similar situation. Richard Bolles calls this the triangle approach to a career change. Your career change starts from your current situation and you do a bit of finessing around the edges. But in actual fact, if you really want to make a change that aligns to your true self, which will complement and support your life you need to take a diamond approach. You need to take a step back and open your eyes and mind to new possibilities before beginning your search. Put simply you need to understand what is important to you, who you want to be and what you want to be able to do and have as a result of your career. You need to get clear on your 'why'- what’s your purpose, your mission, what do you want for yourself.
2. Stop thinking about what your new career could look like
Maybe you have accepted that your job is no longer right and in the witching hour, you are desperately thinking through potential options. In those boring meetings, you find yourself daydreaming about your latest idea. Or maybe you just don’t have a clue, but you live in hope of that lightbulb moment of lightning striking. But as Walt Disney said ‘ The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.’ Yes, you need to get out of your own head, thinking alone is not going to get your career change. You need to take action on your thoughts.
3. Let go of the forever job
Sometimes accepting that the job you have been doing for the last 5, 10, 20 years is no longer ticking the boxes can be hard. For some people, they consider themselves a failure for not getting it right the first time. But here is the thing, we grow and our aspirations will change, what you wanted from a career when you left education can be very different from what you want now. Gone are the days when a job was for life. Instead, you are showing your courage, you are recognizing that life is too short and you need to focus on what will make you thrive
But also let go of the pressure to apply this same thinking to your next career move, it doesn’t need to be your forever job the one that will see you through to retirement. You will see references to finding your passion and for some, this can be a very strong word and add enormous pressure. Instead, focus on what is ideal, what would serve your interests and preferred skills right now after all the world of work is changing and new careers and ideas will emerge.
4. Right size the inner critic
When we are contemplating a change in our careers it is normal to feel fear, we are about to step outside our comfort zone and normal day to day routine, to move away from a world of certainty to one of uncertainty. When faced with fear our emotional part of our brain can start to give out warning messages and those inner voices may start to question if you are clever enough, savvy enough, if you have the skills and if you can be successful. What we need to do is to recognise these voices for what they are, the emotional part of our brain protecting us from what it sees as a threat. For some people, they may struggle to get past this point and the fear of taking the leap seems too painful in comparison to the unhappiness they feel in their current job.
However, apply the rational part of your brain and acknowledge these thoughts for what they are... fears, but not truths, it does not mean you aren’t capable. You have started a career journey before and in other parts of your life you have had to take a risk, maybe a relationship telling someone you loved them, getting married or buying that first home. The key is to acknowledge what the fear is and then to break it down and have your plan to manage it.
5. Don’t let it be your dirty secret
Maybe you know exactly what that next move is; for others of it’s not always so clear, whichever situation you find yourself in, why is it that we don’t feel that we can talk to other people about it, that we have to keep this idea, this dream to ourselves? We will hold back from telling others because we are worried about what they will think, because we don’t have it all figured out yet, for fear they will laugh at us or think we are ungrateful for what we have. These are all legitimate and common reasons, but in doing so we are impeding career transition.
Other people can open your eyes to potential career paths, they can help you connect your preferred skills and interests, they can provide openings to career and organisations of interest. They will answer the questions and remove the perceived obstacles in your way. The key is to involve the right people in your career journey. By all means, limit your career conversations with the risk-averse and the glass half full people. Find your cheerleaders who can support you on your career journey and give you the space to share your ideas, your discoveries and help you connect the dots. People are power and people love to help people.
If you know someone who is struggling to escape their unfulfilling career, show them your support and get them to read this blog for themselves. Changing careers can be tough but with the right support it's totally doable, take a look.
Need help with your career transition then I would love to support you. Get in touch.