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.

Direction

How what you complain about might be costing you – and what to do about it

It’s Friday night and you’re down the pub with your mates, or you’re hanging round the coffee machine with your co-workers, and you’re in moaning mode. I’ve been there, you’ve been there. Glass or mug in hand, putting the world to rights and letting everyone know why something isn’t as it should be.

Let’s face its a pretty common scenario. Movies and TV shows replicate reality and repeat this phenomenon over and over again. It’s a part of life. Letting out our frustrations and complaints is helpful on many levels, and arguably better for your mental health than holding it all in. I’m not going into the pros or cons of complaining in this article. I’m more interested in the fact that you’re complaining at all, and what it might mean for you.

Your world is not the same as my world

A complaint is, according to the dictionary, a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable. I’m going to add in a bit to this. A complaint is “a statement that something is unsatisfactory or unacceptable…according to you and your view of how the world should be.”

What’s unacceptable to you may be totally acceptable and reasonable to the person listening to you. Of course they won’t often admit that, and yet there it is. Your interpretation is not the only interpretation that exist. Remember that example of the dress that pops up all over social media from time-to-time? Do you see a black and blue dress or white and gold dress? It’s crystal clear to you that what you see is exactly what everyone else sees too. The idea that other people might be telling the truth when they say that they see a dress in a totally different colour seems bizarre at best, even wrong.

I reckon you don’t even notice how your complaints and your way of thinking about your situation and the world around you keep you stuck. I’ll go further and bet that those complaints you make give you a kind of payoff that means you keep reinforcing the same cycle of behaviour. Over and over, again and again the same pattern repeats itself. You moan about the same old stuff day in and day out. It might be connected to different situations or people and it’s the same creature with a different mask. Your payoff might be feelings of safety, or certainty or something very different. It doesn’t really matter what your payoff is, it’s real to you and it keeps you treading endlessly on the same wheel.

But what’s the cost?

Not recognising the pattern you repeat in how you behave, and what you complain about, costs you deeply through the loss of your vitality and energy, loss of open and honest connection with other people, loss of fulfilment or achievement, and the loss of being able to stand-up and express yourself as the person you really are when all the rubbish is stripped away.

In contrast, if you notice your patterns of behaviour, you can choose to interrupt the cycle. You can do something differently. Like not blame your bad mood on the traffic, and instead know that you’re very tired and need to get some sleep. Or rather than moaning about how your boss treated you, ask yourself (or your boss) what you could do differently next time that might make everyone’s life easier. Or decide not to moan about why your school failed you and thats why you’re in a job you hate, and instead start doing something about it.

The more you interrupt the cycle, the easier it will be to do it next time. Rather like pushing the pedals on a bike, the first few pushes from standing still are tough and it takes a lot of effort and focus to get moving, then when you’re off you build momentum and before you know it you’ve travelled a long way and arrived at a very different place.

Start noticing

What do you keep on complaining about, and what is it costing you? It’s not an easy task to unpack the cost of your old habits and behaviours, and it’s all the more valuable when you’re brave enough to show-up and notice it. Where else does that behaviour show up in your life? Give yourself permission to notice when and where it pops up.

When you do, you’ll know what it’s costing you, and knowledge is powerful. Once you know the cost, you can make a choice. You can choose to leave things as they are, in full knowledge of the cost – and that might be absolutely OK for you and where you are right now. It doesn’t have to be that way forever.

Or you can choose to interrupt the pattern, to make new choices and do something different when you notice the pattern repeating. Don’t make it a make or break moment. Habits are hard to kick, and if you jump onto your bike expecting to be able to conquer the race and change instantly you’ll have a hard fall. Be kind to yourself, and do it little tiny pushes at a time. Even kids don’t learn to pedal a bike on the first try. They try and fall, and get back on and fall again, and try again. And they celebrate when they hit tiny milestones, and you can too. Then one day they realise they are finally doing it all by themselves, and they are no longer stuck.

Get a partner

A supportive accountability partner or a coach can be an immense help in encouraging you to identify patterns of behaviour, and in taking action to break the patterns and create a new path through keeping you accountable to making change, and asking those big, challenging questions to break you out of your old mindsets.

Commit and pedal forwards

Once you’ve noticed your patterns and committed yourself to making a change, get on your bike and slowly start pedalling. Who knows what might happen when you do, and you’ll have one amazingly fascinating ride.

Direction

Where do you want to get to?

mountains nature arrow guide
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to walk from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where-” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk,” said the Cat.
“So long as I get somewhere,” Alice added, as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
(Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll)

Where do you want to get to?

Some people have a clear sense of direction for their lives from a very young age.  These are the people who have strong sense of desire for their careers, for example to become a doctor, a lawyer, an overseas charity worker, a teacher or a writer.  Others will be clear they want to be parents, or want to pursue fun activities in their leisure time, e.g. playing in local sports leagues, performing in amateur theatre, painting, photography, etc.  These fortunate folk grow up knowing exactly what they want to do, or who they want to be, and put in huge amounts of effort and energy to make sure they get where they want to go.

You might be incredibly clear about where you want to go in one aspect of your life.  You spot all the right signposts to move you forward and take the steps you need to take to reach your destination. Suddenly you realise you haven’t arrived at the place you thought you would when you started out, and you’ve lost sight of things that were once precious to you.  It might be a tiny thing that stops you in your tracks and forces you to look up, or you might be so focused on your end-game that it takes a major incident, like a health-scare, or the threat of divorce or redundancy, to kick you out of orbit. It turns out you hadn’t noticed there were multiple routes you could have chosen. If only you had taken time out to reflect on where you were heading both before you started and at each decision-making signpost along the way.

You might have absolutely no idea where you’re going or what you’re doing.  You’ve just fallen into everything you’re doing for work and leisure, and you’ve not really made active decisions to end up where you are now.

And you might also be somewhere in the middle of the extremes.  Few of us have a “grand plan”.  And that’s also absolutely OK.  I’m not here to tell you you need one.  I’m here to help you check whether the way you’re going is the way you have chosen to go.

Taking time to reflect on the direction you are heading in life, and the choices you are making, is not only a nice thing to do if you have time, but essential if you want to live big, fulfilling, contented lives.  There are endless possibilities – doesn’t it make sense to take a little time out to reflect on where you might end up before you get there? All great mountaineers plan their routes before they leave base-camp, making sure they have what they need and are clear on where they want to go – not just to the summit but the route they want to take to get there, places to stop along the way, and who is going with them.  Life is the biggest journey you are ever going to take – why not do the same?

ACTION TIME!

Here are a couple of places you can start if you want to do a little mountaineer planning in your own life.  Get really comfortable – this can feel weird to start with so make sure you’re somewhere comfy and free from distractions, get nice and warm (put on extra socks if you have a tendency to get cold feet), put on some great music that enables you to concentrate, then relax and breathe.  Good.

In 5 years time

Ask yourself, “where will I be in 5 years time if I keep heading in this direction?”  It’s a big one, isn’t it?  Explore where you might be in all areas in your life: relationships with your significant other, family and friends; careers and work; fun and leisure; home; spiritual life; health; personal growth etc. Write down your thoughts, then come back to them another day and look at the answers again.  Keep your mind open and no second-guessing yourself!  If you start judging your answers, notice that, and jot the thoughts down anyway.  Maybe you’ll be exactly where you are now, just five-years older.  How do your responses make you feel?  Happy?  Uncomfortable?  What is it that makes you feel that way?

Little caveat for crystal-ball gazing – I know that curve balls come from all directions and there could be a million reasons why something could change and would lead to a totally different result.  There are no right or wrong answers, just your own thoughts and ideas – none of them are set in stone.

Slice of pizza

Another way of starting to look at where you’re going is to stay firmly “right here, right now”.  Draw yourself a nice big circle. Split it up into segments, like slices of pizza, and add titles to each slice: Significant Other (add their name if you want to); Family; Friends; Careers and Work; Fun and Leisure; Home; Spiritual Life; Health; Personal Growth – and any others you feel are an important part of your life or you would like to be, e.g. some people like to include finances.  Once you have your segments take a little time to rate each one on a satisfaction scale of 1-10 where 1 is thoroughly dissatisfied and 10 is out of this world amazing and loving it. You may be surprised how quickly you can do this on gut feel alone.  Be honest. Don’t second-guess yourself or spend too long deliberating on whether to give a slice this or that rating – there are no wrong answers here either. When you’re done take a look and you’ll start to see the areas you’ve been focusing on the most.  Maybe you’ve given your health and fitness a whopping great 10 (maybe a 9, if you’re being a shy Brit) and you notice that you’ve only scored your family at 5.  Or your career has taken all your energy and you’re doing great in it but you’ve noticed that you’ve only given fun and leisure a 3.  Whatever you notice is OK – it’s not an excuse to mentally beat yourself up.  Noticing where you are now will help you make changes, if you want to and you feel its right for you. And, by all means, pray about what you’ve discovered if that feels like the way forward for you.

Whether you look forward, do the pizza challenge or a bit of both, I want to caution you (again – I really mean it) not to judge yourself for whatever shows up. You might be taking care of small children or elderly relatives and your own health or leisure time have been affected, or you might be ill yourself, or you’ve just moved house so “home” is taking up extra time.  There are an endless combination of reasons of why you are where you are now and why you are heading in a certain direction, and that’s OK.  This is not about regretting the past or blaming anyone (you or anyone else) for where you are today.  These are exercises to help you work out what direction you want to head in now.

Whatever you think might be your destination in 5 years time based on where you are now, gently ask yourself: “how do I feel about my life?  Is that what I want?”  If it isn’t, ask yourself what would need to change.  If you look at your completed pizza and you decide you want to shift direction – ask yourself this: what would it look like to hit a 10 in the areas you want to change most?  Don’t ask if it’s possible, just imagine what it would be like. What’s the smallest thing you could do differently today to take your first steps in the direction you do want to head?  What’s a tiny step towards getting a 10?

Which way should you walk?  It all “depends a good deal on where you want to get to”.

Uncategorized

Keep it small

There is only one thing that stops you making a significant change in your life.  You.  There is nowhere else to lay blame or fault.  If you aren’t living the life you want, do something about it.  Don’t do nothing.  That is the absolute worst thing you could do.  A fat old nothing.  I know, I’ve been there.

It’s totally possible to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, going over and over all the “what ifs” and stay firmly stuck in what a wise friend once called the crazy-thought loop.  You can turn to chocolate, wine or a good TV series.  And the next day will roll around and there you will be, in exactly the same place as the day before.

Or… or you can tell yourself that enough is enough and you can do something about it.  You can take action.  Action is exciting, terrifying and hopeful.  It can be a huge death-defying leap or it can be a tiny step like the tentative first step of a baby starting its journey as a toddler.  Action is beautiful because action leads to more action, just as one step leads to another, and another and another.  And before you know it you’re not in the same place, you’ve changed direction and you’re on your way.  You may not know the destination yet, and that’s OK.  Sometimes the destination won’t make itself clear until we’ve started out.  And we need to start.

Too often we stop ourselves from taking action because we make it too big.  We make it about the huge leap and not the baby step.  So my advice to you is to keep it small. Find one thing that you want to do differently today, just one thing.  Maybe you’ll take a different route to your workplace, or drink a different kind of coffee, listen to a new artist, make a call you’ve been putting off.  What it is doesn’t matter as much as doing it.  Whatever change you want to make, start somewhere.  Keep it small.  Baby steps.  You’ve got this.