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career change

What To Do When You Want To Change Career But Don’t Know Where To Start

Image result for leaving work

It’s Friday evening. You grab your stuff and get out of your workplace as fast as your legs will carry you without actually running.  Your relief is palpable.  You can’t wait to get out of there so your real-life can start.  Sad, but true right? And the real truth is you’ve known for a long time you want out, you want to do something different.  But what?

This is exactly what stumps so many, many people right at the start of their career changes. I know I don’t want THIS, and I don’t know what I DO want. It’s easy to get lost in a diet of Google searches, career change books and personality profiles.  All good resources in their own way and none of them have the magic answers. Worse, no-one is going to turn up with your new career on a silver platter wrapped up with a bow on top. Yep, it’s really not going to happen – no matter how much you want it.

The problem with these approaches is not that they are inherently bad, it’s just that they keep you stuck in your head – stuck in overthinking and over-analysing.  If you’re prone to procrastination, you’ll recognise this trait and know how much it holds you back from making progress. Career change does not happen when you only sit and think about it. Career change happens when you stick your head out from underneath the blanket of analysis and start doing something that takes you out of your own head and into real-life experience.

If you want to change career, stop thinking about changing career. Stop searching ‘how to change career’. Instead, try some of these ideas to get you out of your head and into the world, meeting new people and exploring what ideas for your career change open up when you do.

Try these real world ideas:

  • Go to an event, workshop or one day course you would never normally go to (Meetup is a great place to find ideas);
  • Take a different route to work – notice what draws you to it with a sense of interest or excitement, or inspires you;
  • Ask a friend for a recommendation of a Podcast you haven’t listened to before;
  • Get in touch with someone who inspires you, or who you would love to have a conversation with about what they do, even if you don’t think you want to do what they do – you’ll never know what little nuggets of inspiration or ideas or contacts they can offer you until you do (tip: offer them something in return, it can be super simple and a little personal touch to help you stand-out from the crowd).

If you’re still stuck in over-thinking and would like more ideas, let’s have a conversation about how I could help you with your career change – I’m always open to talking.

Radical Fulfilment

Comparison Is A Killjoy

“I am not throwing away my shot!” exclaims Alexander Hamilton in the mega-hit Broadway and West End musical, Hamilton.  It’s an admirable sentiment.  How many times a day, a week, a month do you do just that by comparing your life, your career, your possessions, your body, your clothes or your successes (or lack) to someone else?

How do you feel when you do? If you’re prone to over-analysing or have a strong perfectionist or achiever streak (hello, yes that’s me too – nice to meet you) you probably start feeling pretty rubbish.  Social media is full of pinnacle moments – those moments where we show the world our happy highlights, not the gritty drudgery of daily life.  How many times have your friends shared pictures of the sink piled high with dishes, the overflowing washing basket or the Inbox with 3,000 unread emails?  Yes, I thought not.

Someone wise once said (it is probably not Teddy Roosevelt although some sources say it is) ‘Comparison is the thief of joy‘.  Why?  Because as soon as we start comparing ourselves to others we start to notice the ways we don’t measure up, the ways we are inferior and it sucks all the joy and happiness from us, like a Dementor sucking souls in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter stories.  This is YOUR journey through life, no-one else’s.  No-one else is even half as capable as you are of living your one and only life.  So stop comparing. Go out and do YOUR thing!

See the source image

How do you stop the comparison killjoy in its tracks?  Here are a few ideas:

  • Write down at least 5 things you’re grateful for – keep it simple;
  • Take a deep breath and get present to what’s going on for you in this one moment, and the next as it happens;
  • Have an image in your mind you can focus on.  Whatever we focus on grows, so shift your focus onto something else – a calm sea, a forest, a surfer on the waves, your favourite coffee;
  • Take action – comparison sometimes reminds us it’s time not to throw away our own shot at life, and when it does get into action and do something small to get you started along the path towards your big dreams;
  • Laugh – yes, I know – and laughter really is the best medicine.

How do you shake off your killjoy comparison monster?  Let me know below!

If you want clarity on your own journey through life, let’s speak.

(Image visionpt.com.au)
career change

15 Things You Can Do To Change Career

I remember exactly what it felt like to spend an entire working day in the growing hope that there must be something else out there I was better suited to than the work I was currently doing.  Every meeting I went to, where we all dressed as clones in our black suits and made polite small talk over lunch about the weather/sporting prowess, I kept thinking how much I wanted to wear bright colours, my scruffy blue jeans and orange converse and have more important in-depth conversations.

Unlike many career changers I didn’t actually hate my career or my current job.  I got a lot of satisfaction from everything I achieved in my role and I had the privilege of working with wonderfully supportive, good-humoured and hard-working people. I was just convinced I had a lot more to offer than I could give in my career in international tax. And so my career change journey began.

I’ve had a lot of personal experience, and experience from being part of the journeys of other career changers. So, here are 15 things you can do to change career…

  1. Decide you actually really want to change career.  Realise instantly you don’t actually have a clue what you DO want to do.
  2. Get onto Google and quickly type in “what to do to change career”.  Feel overwhelmed by the number of positive searches.  Take a deep breath and read at least twenty articles on all the things you need to do.  Make a list of all those things. Add to it over the following week.  Ponder how many times you’ve written the word ‘research’ or ‘analyse’. Notice how many times you’ve written down ‘update your CV’.
  3. Load up your CV and stare at it for three days wondering how you can make yourself look good to future employers. Update CV for your latest project and tweak the font type five times to make it look good. Feel proud of yourself for taking action.
  4. Google all the job titles you think sound interesting.  Get sucked into regret for not having looked at these when you started your career.  Whatever were you thinking of for not following a career in catering when you were 18 and obsessed with literature.  Feel sad and buy yourself a latte or a bottle of wine to console yourself.
  5. Tell your family and friends you want to change career and let them know in no uncertain terms you are very excited.  Admit after a few rounds of questions you don’t actually know what you want to do next. Add a mess of doubts, challenges and fears to your growing pot of career change emotional chaos. Decide to give up on career change… at least until the alarm goes off to drag you out of bed and into work the following morning.
  6. Spend three weeks reviewing and analysing options for degree and masters courses in ten different subjects you know you’ll need to change career and create a brand-new spreadsheet including the length, cost, modules covered, and any other interesting pieces of information.  Feel depressed that career change is going to cost you a fortune and you’ve no idea if you really want to do that ‘thing’ anyway.  Delete the spreadsheet.
  7. Go on a shopping spree to make yourself feel better. Return and decide you can’t afford a career change anyway.
  8. Do an online personality test (even though you’ve already had at least one done at work). Decide that it’s: 100% correct, a total load of rubbish, or you must have completed it wrong. Do at least one more.
  9. Write down a list of all your skills you could take into a new job under the heading ‘My transferable skills and talents’.  Review your list five times and each time cross one off as not really being a ‘skill’ or a ‘talent’, and become increasingly convinced your only hope is to stay exactly where you are.
  10. Get excited when a Google search in your lunch break brings up some amazingly inspirational quotes.  Create a new Instagram post and print it out to stick on your fridge at home. Read it the following morning and never notice it ever again.
  11. Buy yourself books on how to change career.  Pick one, underline at least 50% of the text and continue reading excitedly until 2am when it wakes you up when you drop it heavily onto your face.  Decide to use the stash of books as a makeshift bedside table.
  12. Sign up to updates from at least ten inspirational people including career change coaches and organisations.  Spend the following week constantly deleting the emails arriving on a daily basis, fail to have time to read the so-called inspiring articles and struggle to find the ‘unsubscribe’ button.
  13. Decide it’s time to hire your own career change coach.  Feel very proud of this powerful action. Google ‘career change coach’, become totally overwhelmed at the number of people and pick the third one on the list because they have a nice sounding name and a slick website. Have a couple of free introductory coaching calls and decide you can do this all by yourself without anyone else, thank you very much.  Feel incredibly confident and capable.
  14. Make an appointment with a recruitment consultant, or your HR team at work, and explain how much you want to make a career change.  Present your updated CV proudly, clearly set out the remaining two transferable skills you’ve identified and ask them to send you job opportunities in x, y or z new fields.  Never hear from them again, or receive twenty job opportunities the same afternoon in exactly the same line of work you’re already in. Resolve never to speak to them again. Have a similar conversation the following week with a different agency/HR person. Totally give up on changing career. It’s obviously not for you.  Feel thoroughly ineffective and incapable. Go to bed early.
  15. Have a bad day at work. Go home and drink a lot of wine. Have an amazing revelation. You’re going to change career… back you go to number 1…

Sounds like fun, eh?

If you’ve had enough of staying stuck in a cycle of inaction, over-analysis and frustration, and you’re ready to try something different, check out my Career Change Programme, and let’s talk.

I’m also the Lead Coach on Careershifters’ next Career Change Launch Pad starting on 5 October 2019. It’s the world’s longest-running group-based career change course, and a very different way of going about your career change.

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Superwoman, I am not

Busy, oh so busy

My life is always busy. I’m busy working, connecting, cleaning up, tidying up, learning, socialising, playing, creating, washing clothes, travelling, reading, organising, parenting (or being parented), buying food, cooking food, writing, and listening. There is always something or, more often, someone calling for my attention.

When I give and give and give without taking time out to rejuvenate, I crack. Every single time. You’d think I would learn, wouldn’t you? And I do, and I don’t.

Who says I’m not superwoman?

It’s easy to say I need space. I’m not very good at accepting I need it, and much worse at doing something about it. I’m supposed to be superwoman, aren’t I? The kind of gal who just gets on with it all, taking it all in my stride on my own day after day. I can do it all, be it all and own it all. Alone.

Do you know what? That’s total rubbish. I can’t push on through everything without the strain of the effort showing through. I can’t do it all alone. I’m not even meant to do life alone. The need for connection and belonging is hard wired into our souls. The cracks show up as extreme lack of patience, frustrated and exhausted tears, increasingly negative self-talk, physical exhaustion and a worryingly downward spiral of lack of self-esteem. Too many times I’ve ended up in a heap on the kitchen floor with nothing left to give.

I do at least now recognise the signs of impending doom. I no longer have to wait for Armageddon to be unleashed before listening to what my body and mind are already telling me (not always, but I’m getting better at noticing Armageddon’s approach). Now I often succeed at giving myself a small measure of compassion. I call time before someone else calls it for me. Usually.

Run away

And so it was I found myself at a lovely little beachside cafe yesterday afternoon. The cracks had been widening all through my short week, and escape was my only way out. Running away to the circus actually felt like a realistic option for a few fleeting moments. Oh, what a difference a couple of hours made: alone in the sun, with a cup of tea (herbal, don’t judge me) and the calming blue sea! It didn’t completely plaster over the cracks but the gaps sure weren’t as wide as before I listened and took the action I needed most: to stop.

Listen and answer the call

Little pleasures are often all you need to calm and soothe your soul. It doesn’t have to be big and grand. Simple and quick can be beautifully effective at restoring and rejuvenating you, even if you have to do the same thing again tomorrow or the next day. One day at a time.

What do you need most today? Will you listen?

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Perception is Everything

Striving for perfection

I am a perfectionist. I like to say I’m a recovering perfectionist. Or maybe an almost perfectionist – perfection is after all almost impossible to obtain. From the very moment my eyes open each morning I see the world with the eyes of someone striving for perfection.

Every single interaction I have, every choice or decision I make, and all the experiences I have are directly affected by how I perceive the world around me. As a perfectionist I perceive everything with a ridiculously critical eye. I am, almost always, harder and more critical of myself than anyone else. I zone in on tiny imperfections and fail to notice successes and achievements, or at least I notice them and quickly spot the things I could have done better until the achievement is in the shadow of my own perceived failures.

The standards I set for myself and, too often, for others are not always reasonable. I become anxious at the very thought of failing, and the extreme anxiety often leaves me stuck in a world of procrastination. I get stuck in circles of my own over-thinking. It goes something like this: I want to do this, I must do this perfectly, I can’t do this perfectly, I can’t do this, I won’t do this. Guess what? I don’t do it.

It happens when I’m learning lines for shows. I think: I want to learn these lines, I must learn them perfectly. I start trying and find I can’t learn them instantly (oddly…!). Thoughts continue: I can’t do this, I won’t do this. I stop learning lines. I put it off for a couple of weeks. I get stressed I’ve not learned my lines.

It’s not fun to be in this thought loop, it isn’t joyful or healthy to be ultra critical of myself in every single minute of my waking day. Yet it’s been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I didn’t have a clue how to even begin tackling this in the past. How can you change your behaviour when you’ve never known anything else?

Check your filters

The truth is you may well have behaved very differently before in your life. It’s highly likely at some point someone said something to me that went a bit like: “you’ve got to get it right” or “keep trying until it’s perfect”. And immediately what happened was I started to see the world through a filter, a perfection filter, like a visor on a motorbike helmet, only this filter slightly distorted the way I saw the world and interacted in it. Over time other filters popped up as well, like “don’t bother people” (ooh, ‘don’t bother people, do it all on your own’ filter) or “you’ve got to work hard” (hello, ‘working hard’ filter). Until suddenly my visor was, and is, so covered in filters I can’t see out of it clearly, and all I see and experience is affected by those filters.

Your story may not be exactly the same, and some version of this will have happened to you. You only see reality through your own filters, not necessarily how things really are in reality.

These filters of ours aren’t all bad. On the contrary, striving for perfection has enabled me to work hard, to achieve amazing things (I notice how my “I must be humble” filter doesn’t like me saying that out loud), and to throw everything into all I do. And yet, it causes anxiety, slows my progress, even resulting in total lack of action, and it doesn’t have to be this way.

You always have a choice

I have a choice, and you do too. I can choose whether to keep looking at the world through my filter of perfectionism. Or I can choose to start noticing where it shows up and what happens when it does. I can notice when it stops me in my tracks. And when I do, I can choose to do what I’ve always done or try something different. I can choose to test out whether there might be another reality I can’t see yet.

How do you try on another idea of reality? Sounds a bit sci-fi, right? If I notice my perfectionist filter is causing me to be super critical of something I’ve done, I’ll ask someone I trust for feedback. More often than not they will find positives I hadn’t even noticed, and I start to see that there is another version of reality I hadn’t seen before. Or I just get into action anyway – noticing the perfectionist filter is often enough to give me breathing space to take action, to move beyond it to a place where I can see maybe I had a distorted view.

Notice it, and take action

So today, if you find yourself putting something off, or thinking there’s no point in trying to change/do anything differently, start to notice what filters you might be looking through. Don’t try to take them off, just notice them, and ask yourself how can you test out whether there might be another version of reality. And take action.

Go well, and have fun.

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Stories from the Plateau

Learning doesn’t guarantee success. You can pour hours into attempting to learn something new and still never reach a pinnacle of success of a kind that our world’s media suggests is your right if you work hard. The truth is, putting in the hard graft is no guarantee that you’ll arrive at a positive result. And yet, there is one certainty about learning, if you don’t bother trying to learn anything, you won’t have any possibility of succeeding at all.

I’m right in the thick of learning lines for a musical theatre show with my wonderful community musical theatre group. We do it because it’s fun to hang out together and sing (often) great songs, and attempt a bit of acting and dancing. And did I mention we just like to mess about in each other’s company? If I have anything like an extended family, it’s these guys that are it. It’s fun (usually) and it’s hard work to achieve anything remotely close to a solid performance that people will actually enjoy experiencing when they rock up to watch the show. It’s not about the audience, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling that the audience have gone home with a spring in their step and smile on their faces – and that we’ve been the cause.

I know that on one level it doesn’t matter if I put hard work in or not. Something unexpected could happen on the night that means I won’t recall the lines, or I’ll stumble on a word and the line will come up all crumpled up. Or someone will leave their mobile phone on and the resulting ringtone will throw me off kilter. And I also know that if I don’t do the work of trying to learn the lines, I definitely won’t know them, and the lack of confidence that results means I end up anxious, stressed out and worried that I’ll let myself and everyone around me down.

What I know is doing the work to learn the lines means I won’t worry so much, and I’ll have more mental capacity to try new stuff out, to have fun and to really be there with my friends in the cast and crew in this moment and this moment and this moment.

I also know that I will go through inevitable peaks and troughs as I try to learn the lines, music and choreography. There will be highs when it goes well or in the early days when there is lots of time. There will be days of crushing bleakness when it’s going badly and I can’t remember a single thing I’ve been trying to get to stick. And there will be days on the plateau where it’s sort of ticking along – made some progress and not really seeing any evidence of further momentum or development. The days where I’ve been working on specific things and they just won’t stick. It’s tempting to find these times frustrating and give up. And yet, if I keep doing the work, showing up and learning especially when it seems nothing is happening, eventually I’ll hit a breakthrough. The plateau is where I learn most about me. About my impatience, where I fight my perfectionist demons and where I have to trust that it’s worth carrying on taking steps when there’s no obvious sign of growth, or change.

So when you’re learning remember that the plateau is always there. You will always reach it. And it isn’t an easy place to be. Surround yourself with people who love you, do fun things and keep going. The plateau is like a tree in winter. Reserves are building, new growth is about to breakthrough, spring is around the corner. Don’t give up.

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The right regrets

I’d like to say that one day I woke up and a resolution hit me with crystal clear clarity, and that was not how it happened. It’s the sort of thing that gets talked about, isn’t it? How the light shone through the window and it all suddenly made sense! Yeh, lovely and that’s just not how it happened for me. In fact I’m the sort of person who thinks too much about everything. So nothing is ever going to hit me in the face like that. It just isn’t. Even if it did I would question it and ponder it because that’s how I do things.

Over a very long period of time I very slowly came to the realisation that I would rather come to the end of my days risking regretting trying stuff and failing, than risking regretting never trying at all. It seemed the failure of all failures would be to come to the end of my time and know I hadn’t made the effort to make a life for myself that was mine, and not the life that the media in all it’s forms try so hard to portray as “the ideal”. I don’t like that life and I don’t want that life. I want a life based on deep connections, on making a difference, trying new things and having a load of fun along the way.

It sounds so simple, and yet it can feel very hard. It takes effort to go out into the world and take action, it takes courage to go out of your comfort zone and it takes time to get used to putting yourself out on the edge of that comfort zone and start stretching. Frankly it’s easier to do nothing and ride the wave that comes your way without ever choosing whether you want to ride it or not.

You see your comfort zone is a bit like a rubber band. It’s very comfortable being loose and hanging about. And there’s a point when you start pulling at an elastic band where tension arises. That’s the edge, if you like, of your comfort zone. If you pull too hard it stretches and becomes taut and shakes with the effort of being stretched too much big too soon, and if you let go when it’s at full stretch… ping! The band goes flying off, lands in a heap and quickly resumes its old shape. Comfort zone restored. If you pull just enough, you can change the shape without sending it off into the outer hemisphere. And that point, that’s where the magic happens.

On the edge of your comfort zone is where change begins. It’s where you can start, slowly, to stretch your understanding of what might be possible for you. Maybe today that’s just asking for an espresso instead of your usual Americana, or visiting a vegan restaurant in place of a steak house, or asking a friend what exactly it is that they do in their job, or asking to watch how someone grooms a dog. You have to start somewhere.

What’s the smallest thing you could do today that will push you ever so slightly out of your normal comfort zone? Who could you speak to? What activity could you do? Where could you go? Do something, anything. And have fun.