Thinking A Career CHANGE? Then Follow These Mindblowing Steps
It is no longer just a fanciful notion to undergo a career change to “follow your dream”, “pursue your passion” or “discover your purpose”. And while it is becoming more familiar for people to do just that, most will not make a change because they don’t know-how. But it’s more gracious than you think with the accurate tools.
The process of executing a career change is not without its uncertainties and “a-ha” moments. Most people are unprepared for the challenges that arise in achieving a transition and are unable to overcome them. What generally happens is they hit a roadblock, go backward in the process or even abandon their attempt to achieve their career change because they get discouraged and overwhelmed. But you can foil them.
The following represent eight things that most who undergo career changes encounter. I have experienced these myself as well as with my clients as they navigate their career changes. It is critical to not only be aware of these issues but to know how to overcome them.
1) In the beginning, you will question your decision.
“Am I being greedy?” “Is it irresponsible of me not to use my hard-earned college degree/training/etc.? For my career?” “How will I start all over?” “Can I absolutely achieve this?” “Is this the appropriate time”? These are just a few of the questions you may ask yourself as you contemplate a career change. And these remain absolutely standard and reasonable questions to ask. But if you don’t know how to find the right answers to them you will find yourself stuck in paralysis mode.
Furthermore, I believe the most critical question to ask is “What happens if I DON’T make this career change?”Chew on that for a moment…
In my case the answer was, “I will continue to be unhappy, stressed out, gain more weight, lose more sleep, take my frustration out on my family, etc.” and the list goes on. If you are depressed in your career to the point that your health and relationships are suffering, you need to effect some changes. And you need to implement the changes in the logical order. Otherwise, you will get paralyzed questioning and second-guessing yourself.
2) Your loved ones will interrogate you as well.
When you initially start notifying your family and friends that you are making a career change, expect some of them to be, let’s say, less than supportive. Don’t take it personally. It’s not their fault. There is a fair amount of risk involved in transforming careers, both actual and perceived. Your loved ones don’t want to behold you fail or make a mistake. Many of them will feel as if it’s more beneficial for you to “play it safe” and stay put. And it’s incredibly effortless for them to say that–they are not the ones living the day to day frustrations that you are, in a career that isn’t the right fit.
Maintain your perspective and don’t receive their remarks personally. It’s your life, your choice, so forge ahead. It’s enormous to allow everyone to buy-in on your career change, but chances are, you will have some naysayers and that’s okay because their intentions are genuine. But you will need to have a system to prevent these voices from restraining you or you are susceptible to giving up on your career change plan.
3) Initially, you will feel inadequate and unqualified.
Nobody is an expert their first day and you won’t be either, particularly in the case of someone who is changing to a completely diverse career. Naturally, if you are completely changing careers, you will have a learning curve in the beginning. Be patient with yourself and remember that you aren’t exactly starting at square one. You acquire many soft skills you are bringing into your new career, as well as all of the knowledge you have gained up to this point in your work history.
Remember the ancient adage “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and allow yourself time to learn. If you position yourself to enter a career field that leverages your unique strengths, personality, and interests you will learn suddenly and “catch up” before you perceive it. With help, this shift won’t be as difficult as you think.
4) You will feel fear…a lot
When I initially started informing people I was going through a career change because I never liked being an accountant many of them were shocked. They had no idea I was so miserable in my original career choice. But fear can require you do things you would not otherwise consider doing. I stayed in my career because I was frightened of the unknown, afraid of failing at something new, afraid of judgment from other people, and afraid that I couldn’t afford to make a change. I spent many years because I gave fear so much power over me. And when I ultimately decided to make a career change, the fear magnified. I nevertheless experienced fear…in an alternative way.
But with help, I was clever to focus more on my excitement than my fear. And to navigate the fear, versus allowing it to paralyze me.
The reality is that we all experience fear. What is important is that we recognize it and don’t use it as an excuse to stay stuck. Fear is just a feeling. But it is a feeling that you must learn to work WITH, not avoid, and not merely keep pushing through. I see too many people waste time procrastinating because of fear, or getting burned out trying to push through fear. Hence you require a specific strategy to deal with it. And support and accountability to focus on more your excitement than your fear.
5) You will get to know yourself very well.
As you go through a career change, it is necessary to do a comprehensive audit of yourself. Both of your strengths and gifts, but also the self-talk that we allow to run on auto-pilot. The self-talk that has kept us in a career that we hate for much too long. There are so many patterns we have developed that we may not even realize are there. As we go through our daily routines, we oftentimes don’t even think about what we are granting and why, because we are going through the motions from habit.
The time of a career change remains an ideal opportunity to devote meticulous attention to the habits you have developed. And I don’t mean the way you brush your teeth or put on your shoes each morning. I’m referring to your thought patterns. What are the thoughts you have told yourself because it has become a habit to do so? Whatever belief has restrained you in a career you don’t like must be dealt with or it will continue to rear its head after your career change. It is imperative to change your self-talk as you go through this process in order to deal with your thought patterns and require the adjustments you need in order to ensure your success.
What thoughts are you holding onto that will prevent you from appreciating your maximum potential clearly? Scared? Guilty? Anxious? Disappointed? Embarrassed? Uncertain?
6) You will encounter haters.
“Who does she think she is?” “Is she crazy about changing careers at 50?” “Is she experiencing some sort of mid-life crisis?” I can ensure one thing about your career change, and that is that people will criticize you. They will thrust their fears and insecurities upon you. Studies have shown that the majority of employees are unhappy in their careers. Therefore what does that suggest for them when you take the leap? Some will feel envy, some will feel inadequate because they don’t have the nerve to make the jump, some will even encourage you to fail. This isn’t about you, it’s about them.
You must learn to silence their voices in your head and continue to transition your career. Once you are capable to shift your mindset to disregard those voices, you will not hear so much from the haters. And chances are, once you are to the other side of your pivot some of the haters will be inspired to do the same and overcome their current state of dissatisfaction.
7) You will even have MORE supporters than haters.
One thing that you will discover, if you open your eyes and allow yourself to receive it, is that there are frequently of people who will support you. I was relieved to experience so much support as I went about my career change. From my colleagues at work who praised my “guts” for making the change, to most of my friends and family members who said I would do indeed well in my new career, to new friends, I have met during my transition and currently in my new career. These remain the people who hold on to me upbeat and inspired when I am harbouring doubts about myself (Because let’s face it; we all periodically entertain doubts!).
I have discovered that because I am presently in a career that fits my strengths and personality, I am much more plugged into my work. The result of this is that I have many more meaningful and fulfilling relationships with the people I work with than I did in my previous career. I absolutely did not perceive that one coming! But this has been, without a doubt one of the most enormous benefits to my career change!
There have even been a few friends that were inspired enough to cross-question me about my transition process and are currently working on their own career changes! There’s no better support than someone who wants to work through your system!
8) You will wonder why you didn’t implement the change sooner.
Had I known 25 years ago that making my career change would have been this satisfying, I did it a long time ago? While my career in accounting provided me with a way to support my family, I was miserable just about the entire 2 ½ decades. Had I shifted my mindset and figured out the transition process sooner I would have saved myself a lot of stress and discontent. But I didn’t, now I have and I don’t beat myself up over it. I enjoy a lot of working years ahead of me. I now enjoy my career and all that I do. I’m thrilled that I am in a place where I can help others that were in my position not so long ago.
Know that working through a career change remains a process, both with your professional “self” and otherwise.