When thinking about changing your career we can place huge pressure on ourselves to find that perfect one, a career that we can see ourselves doing for the rest of our working lives, a job that doesn’t really feel as though you are working, that every day you are excited to roll up your selves and start your working day. These feelings can be exacerbated by the fact that we feel as though we have failed once already by not selecting the right career the first time around. You don’t want to avoid repeating the same mistakes and you definitely don’t want to experience these same feelings of despair or unfulfillment that you are trying to escape.
Maybe your next career change will involve retraining and therefore the cost and time, the drop in your salary are all going to be challenges that you need to manage, you want to get it right to make sure this next career is going to fit you like a glove and is going to continue to fit you for the next 10, 15 or 20 years. And so what do you do… you do nothing, the fear of getting it wrong, of not be able to envisage this next career sets in paralysis.
This was exactly one of the challenges I felt as I started my career shift, I could think of the skills I enjoyed using, industries I was interested in. I was willing to retrain, to take a salary cut, but the thought of committing to a career for the next 20 years without knowing if I was going to be any good at it, that I was going to enjoy it would stop me in my tracks. Because I couldn’t know with certainty that this was going to be the answer, I did nothing and stayed put in my corporate career.
Does this sound familiar? To be able to move forward I needed to make a shift in my thinking. For me, there were three shifts I needed to take.
Stop punishing myself for wanting to change jobs. Just because you want to take your career in a different direction, it doesn’t mean that you got it wrong before. We gain from every experience, we learn skills that transfer to our new careers, and we meet people that will open doors to us. We even can use our past experience to learn what we don’t want in the future, what cultures, environment and people stifle us.
Our priorities and aspirations will change. Perhaps when you started your working life your priority was to find a career that would give you the ability to progress, maybe you wanted to work for an international brand and have the opportunity to travel or perhaps you were fed up with being a penniless student and it was all about the earning potential. But as our lives change so do our priorities. Perhaps you have a family and now it’s more about finding a career that gives you the flexibility to work around them. Maybe you have found a purpose to your life which changes your priorities. Instead of beating yourself up and considering yourself a failure as you didn’t select a career that you can stay with, congratulate yourself for recognizing that your priorities have changed and you have the courage to do something about it. 46% of people will retrain at some point, you are not alone and no longer does a career need to be for life.
Let go of the need for it to be a forever job. Thinking about a job that you can do beyond 2 to 5 years can place a huge amount of pressure on you, particularly as you don’t know how things are going to work out, you can’t be certain that it’s going to fulfil your emotional, intellectual and financial needs.
If this is something you are struggling with, start by asking yourself why this next career must last you forever and then consider these two points:
- The world of work is continually evolving, there are jobs today that didn’t exist 5 – 10 years ago and with advances in technology for most of us are jobs will continue to evolve if we stay put.
- You don’t have a crystal ball and can’t foresee what will be important to you in 5 to 10 years. You may have won the lottery and never have to work again, you may find that your priorities have changed again and new opportunities arise.
All you can do is consider, what would work for you right now and for the next couple of years. If your next career goes beyond then great, but don’t restrict yourself don’t hold yourself back.
Have a back- up plan. For some of us, this lack of certainty in our next career can seem too much and so we would rather stay put. In this case, you need to understand more about this fear, what is behind the fear and how can you right size it. This was a problem for me when I first started thinking about coaching. My fear was what if I didn’t like it or wasn’t any good at it I would have wasted time and money. While I wouldn’t know for certain until I actually started offering coaching services, I knew that by speaking to other coaches, by researching and looking at training options I would start to get some answers. I looked at what I would need to earn to cover my living costs and how I could supplement this through the transition period. I also identified what steps I would take to earn money if I realised coaching wasn't for me while I figure out a more permanent career move. Having this backup plan took the pressure off and allowed me to move forward. I also quickly realised though that the skills I have learnt through coaching were actually life long skills that are very transferrable.
As I began to shift my thinking I was able to move forward and get out of my own way. After all, the only way I really knew if coaching was going to be my forever job was to get started, to take action!
My gift to you. If this blog resonates with you, why not join my private Facebook Group to benefit from other resources and get involved in the conversation. If you are wanting support through your own career change and are interested to know how coaching could help you, then book in for a free introductory session.