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

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.