Why does career change seem so hard? The “how to” part is the least complicated part because there is a tried and true formula for making successful career transitions. It is often the question of “what next?” that people find difficult to answer and as a result, it becomes a key cause for keeping people trapped in unfulfilling jobs.
I’ve noticed a trend in leadership and career coaching where people nearly always have the beginnings of a good idea about their next ideal job despite initially saying they have no idea what to do next. It might be buried deep within them and they’ve never spoken the words out loud to anyone but it exists. It sits there unformed, waiting for the right question to unleash it for it to take shape and be actualised.
My starting point is trusting that they do know something and that my job is to help them give voice to it. I listen closely as they tentatively tell me their idea, which is promptly backed-up with some reason why they believe they couldn’t make it happen.
I call it bursting your own bubble. Let’s think about this for a moment. There are people out there who can burst your bubble for you and they might even seem a bit quick off the mark to do it too! Then there is you who can do it to yourself. This is counter-productive because before you’ve even tested out the idea it is sent to sit in a cold dark corner to hide again indefinitely.
If you didn’t burst your own bubble and you let these initial ideas see the light of day then new possibilities are allowed to emerge. So here are some tips for leading yourself through the process of getting your ideas out and for tapping into your deeper wisdom.
Trust Others – With Discernment
Talk to people who have been down a similar path. Be inspired, learn and use whatever you can from their experience and know that it was their experience and one you can’t replicate 100% because you are not them.
Choose people who’ve got a track record of taking risks; have successfully made a career change and even those who have failed and turned failure into a success.
Become aware of how you might be influenced by the feelings of others and to what degree these feelings stymie your creativity and decision-making. A few red flags are when they express fear, uncertainty and lack of belief. Ask yourself “Are these founded or unfounded?” Voluntary career change requires bold thinking and courage otherwise we’d all just keep doing the same things.
Trust Yourself – You Know Stuff!
Listen to your inner drive and be honest about how long these ideas have been fermenting. Are they more deep-seated than you first thought? Take your own counsel as no one knows better than you what is best for you in your life and career at this particular junction.
Tapping into a deeper wisdom has served people I’ve coached and I’ve experienced it first hand too.
When I made a major career change into coaching 13 years ago my coach picked up that I was caught in a decision-making paralysis. I kept gathering more information but wasn’t making a decision about changing career. The game-changing question was something like “You’ve done extensive research and gone through the pros and cons, and as you keep going around in the same loop I wonder what it will take to make a decision here”. Bang, it struck like a thunderbolt and woke me up to realise I could never know everything about the new direction so it was also going to take a leap of faith. I had to examine if I was willing to fully back myself and if I had the wisdom and resourcefulness required to tread the path between certainty and uncertainty while I figured out my new career.
Be Your Own Career Coach
Step 1. Grab a pen and paper or better still grab a “trusted other” to help. Choose someone who will not censor or judge you or project his or her fears onto you. Someone who can deeply listen without jumping into resolving anything.
Step 2. Holding your ideas about career change in mind, answer the following questions. Add your own questions too.
If you were to really back yourself what would you do?
How is this career idea an expression of who you really are?
How does this align with your deepest values?
What deeper yearning does this satisfy?
What strengths of yours will this draw from and allow you to fully utilise?
What strengths will you need to develop?
What is getting in the way of you taking this course in your career and life?
If you were to be 100% honest with yourself, what is going to be the result or the cost to you of not acting on this idea?
If you acted on this idea what will potentially open up for you in your career and life?
With this new awareness what will you do about your idea as a next step? How, when, what and with whom?
Step 3. Anaylse the truth that exists within your answers and the feelings that have emerged as you’ve dug deep to answer the questions. It is also decision time about whether to move your career ideas along or to burst your career change bubble.
In coaching I believe we don’t need to know all the answers to begin something new, we just need to bring forth ideas, make a start and know that with action comes further clarity and progress….always.