Are you ready for a career change, do you wonder if it could be the answer to your problems? As a career coach, I have come to identify that there are different phases of readiness for a career change. In the early days, we start by questioning if we need to consider making changes and then we progress through to knowing what we want but unsure of how to make it a reality.
In this blog, we take a look at the different phases and uncover some of the questions you may be trying to work through and one step you can take to help you.
Phase 1 – Something isn’t right
In this phase we aren’t ready to leave our current job, however, we are starting to question what could we do to improve our situation. For people in this stage the focus tends to fall into one of three areas:
- Can I make changes to the way I work so that my current job works better for me? Perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed or craving more balance in your life.
- Are there other opportunities within the organisation that will suit me better? You recognise what you are spending your time doing and/or who you are working with is not fulfilling you, but you are not ready to leave the organisation.
- Could the same role in a different organisation be the answer? Fundamentally, you enjoy the role but perhaps you are not feeling a connection with the organisation itself.
If you are in this phase the key is to understand what really is causing the disconnect you are feeling. If we can be clear on the drivers it can help us to understand what actions are going to help us move forward. One of the best ways I recommend clients to do this is, is to write down all of their frustrations with the job. A word of caution here, as you are about to focus on all the negative aspects of your career, we don’t want this to pull us into a negative spiral, to avoid this set the timer for 5 minutes maximum.
As you look through the list see if there are any common themes. For example, it may be more directed around people that you work with, or maybe the actual work you are doing. As you review the list are the challenges more about you and the way you work, perhaps around your ability to ask for help, to put boundaries in place? If this is the case, the work you need to do may be more about your style of working and how you start to take control of your career.
Are the frustrations more specific to the company or the role? Review your list and ask yourself, if I was to move companies would these frustrations follow me? If you can largely attribute your frustrations to the responsibilities of the role then continuing to do more of the same is not the answer. If however, it is more about the Company then maybe moving to a different Company and industry could be enough.
Phase 2 – Am I ready to do something about this.
In this phase, we have accepted that something needs to change and you may have already made adjustments to your existing job but you recognise it hasn’t been the answer. However our fear of the unknown can be holding us back from taking action, we can start to tell ourselves stories of why now isn’t the right time. Alternatively, some people in this stage will automatically start searching for their next move without getting clear on what they want and need.
Firstly there is rarely an ideal time to make a change and it is not a quick process.
For clients in this phase, I always recommend getting curious and to consider what they want their lives to be like going forward. Start with the bigger picture as it's important that our next move takes us closer to the ideal vision we have. What is it you want to be able to do, to have and who do you want to be? Write everything down that your mind conjures up for you, big and small.
When you look at everything you have written down, will staying put enable you to achieve your future dreams?
This phase, it’s about being able to recognise the need to let go of what we have if we want to make changes for our future. To let go of any guilt that we may have of letting people down, of wasting years building our expertise in an area (this is never wasted and you are not letting people down). It’s also about recognising our fears, understanding what’s driving them and being able to right-size them.
Phase 3 – I know I want a change but I don’t know what
In this phase, we have the willingness but because we don’t know what careers could work we struggle to make progress and until we have a lightbulb moment when it all becomes clear we stay stuck. Well, my friend's lightbulb moments like these are rare, take it from me, it took me 10 years before I realised it wasn’t coming!
If you are in this phase it’s about finding the knowledge and tools to figure it out for yourself.
Essentially in a career change, we are looking to move to a more positive place, we are looking to spend more time using the skills we enjoy and working in an area that holds our interest.
Therefore, if you are in phase 3 start to capture the skills which you enjoy using, perhaps they're skills that come naturally to you. They may be strengths of yours, but don't automatically assume your strengths and your preferred skills are the same.
Secondly, consider what interest you, what would you like to know more about, what are you intrigued by and feel a connection with, it may be the environment, it may be helping others, it could be technology or finance.
Then go exploring, find people working in the areas of interest and learn more about what they do and the skills they use.
Phase 4 – I know what I want but how do I make it a reality
You may have a very clear idea of what you want to do, but it just feels like a dream which is always out of reach.
The key in this phase is to make the transition appear manageable for you too. To do this immerse yourself in your chosen career and connect with people who do what you want to do. Learn about their career journey. Find opportunities to build your knowledge and exposure.
If training is required, learn about all the different options. Is this something you can do while you are working? Are there lower level entry roles that you can consider as an alternative?
If there are impacts to your income, understand what your monthly costs are and how you can address any shortfall in the interim or longer term.
This phase is all about getting into the detail, collecting the information to fill in the gaps, testing assumptions you are making and clearing the fog so you can start to see your dreams are possible.
If you are questioning if a career change is right for you or struggling with the fear of the unknown, the lack of a plan and a process then this is where a career change coach like me can help you. Believing that something is achievable can be half the battle, hearing how other people have made the transition and realising they are just like you can be powerful and inspiring take a look here.
I have been working as a career coach for 6 years and have had the pleasure of supporting many people as they take control of their careers. If you need help planning your shift, then let's talk. Book a free introductory call and let's see what we can uncover together.
Other resources which may help you with your career change include: