Looking to move onward and upward? Yes, it’s possible–even in THIS economy! Check out my most recent segment from Fox 31’s Good Morning Colorado below where I share 4 tips that will make the process of changing careers much easier to manage. Remember, it can be stressful and overwhelming, but it can also be very worthwhile. If you’re ready to start the process, consider working one-on-one with a career coach. I’d love to help!
If you’re considering a career change—a move from one industry and/or one position to an entirely new industry and/or position—preparation is absolutely essential. Taking some time on the front end to map out your plans will reduce stress and anxiety, plus it will improve your chances for success dramatically. Use the following five steps to help ensure you don’t miss a thing.
1. Envision what you want. This is the fun part. Envisioning is a very natural process that most of us do—to some extent or another—all the time. We imagine what it would be like to do this or that, to walk in someone else’s shoes or to simply try something different. Most of us are envisioning the future and where it will take us constantly.
Photo Credit: Fsse8info (Flickr)
People ask me this question all the time. I think it’s silly but, obviously, there’s a great deal of concern out there. So, I want to address this issue once and for all.
Yes, career change is absolutely possible—regardless of the state of the economy.
There. I said it.
But I know it takes more than that to convince you.
I recently had the honor of interviewing Dick Bolles, author of “What Color Is Your Parachute?” Here’s what he says:
In the best of economic times, there are always millions of people out of work. And, the corollary to that is that, in the worst of times, there are always millions of people that find jobs. I looked at a typical month during the high of the recession, which was April of 2009, and 4 million people found jobs that month and there were 3 million vacancies that didn’t even get filled that month. So there are always a lot of jobs available…
The world’s foremost authority on finding work says there’s plenty of opportunity out there. That should make you feel at least a little better.
But I know it’s still risky. It’s always risky, regardless of the economy. Sure, 4 million people got work. But millions more didn’t.
So it can be tempting to stay put, no matter how unhappy you are. You have a job. It’s a paycheck. Shouldn’t you just focus on the fact that you’re employed? Isn’t that good enough?
Sure. You could live your life like that. You could settle for less than what you want—and rightfully deserve—simply because it’s easy. Or maybe because you don’t believe in yourself. Or perhaps because you don’t believe anything else would be better…
You could let fear drive your decisions. You could sacrifice your hopes and dreams because there’s a chance it just won’t work out.
Hey, it’s cool. There’s no shame in it. That’s your choice.
And yes, it’s always a choice.
But don’t convince yourself that staying put is any less risky. That’s risky in a whole different way.
When you sacrifice the happiness that could be for the unhappiness that is, you risk never knowing what could have been. You risk regret.
Maybe you tell yourself, “Next year…when the economy’s better…when life isn’t so hectic…maybe then I’ll make a change.”
The risk is that such a time will never come.
So it’s really a question of which risk you’re willing to take.
Millions of people have successfully changed careers since the start of the recession. Millions more will do so this year. Perhaps you will be one of them.
It’s not easy. But then, change never is—regardless of the economy.
Now that I got that off my chest, let’s get practical and tactical.
I’ve written a lot about this in the past, so here’s some recommended reading to help ease a career transition (in any economy):
- Managing Risk During a Career Change
- 5 Tips for Planning a Career Change
- 15 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Major Career Change
Photo Credit: kern.justin (Flickr)
This article is the fourth in a 10-part series on the topic of overcoming career-limiting habits.
I heard once that the Chinese character for the word “change” was a combination of two other characters: chaos and opportunity. Now, don’t quote me on this. I have no idea of if it’s correct. But in theory, it makes sense.
When a recent study ranked “resistance to change” as number 4 in a list of the most common career-limiting habits, I immediately remembered this little piece of trivia. Change is indeed a combination of chaos and opportunity. Those who are resistant, I think, are only looking at one side of the equation. They’re forgetting about the opportunity and focusing only on the chaos. And who wouldn’t resist that?
We all know that change is the only constant in life and nowhere is that more true than in the workplace. Technology alone forces us to be adaptable and learn new things on nearly a daily basis. The business world is always evolving in big ways and small (think: mergers, acquisitions, restructuring, etc.).
Change is absolutely unavoidable so, as the trekkies say, resistance is futile. Successful professionals have to be willing to embrace change, even when the outcome is still unknown.
Here are a few tips for learning to love change in the workplace:
Recognize When You’re Resisting
A great first step for most people is simply to recognize when change is happening and how you’re reacting. If you’re resistant, figure out what’s beneath the resistance. Is it fear? Why are you pushing back when everything around you is moving forward?
Look for the Opportunity
Remember that change = chaos + opportunity. It’s a two-part equation. What potential exists within the change? Shine a spotlight there.
Make It Less Dramatic
An overnight, sudden change is much harder to handle than a gradual shift. It’s like the “frog in a boiling water” scenario (which, being an animal lover, I hate!!). When you see change on the horizon, be proactive. Do what you can to ease the transition, minimize the chaos and enhance the opportunity.
Release Emotional Attachments
Let go of the feelings you have associated with the old way of doing things. Comfort can be more emotional than rational. Remember that you’re endlessly adaptable and that growth almost always comes with discomfort. Learn to simply go with the flow and see where the wave takes you.
In 1967, two psychiatrists named Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe performed a rigorous study to better understand the correlation between stress and illness. Ultimately, they created the Homes and Rahe Stress Scale, a comprehensive list that ranks the 43 most stressful life events. (You can see the list here.)
While much of the scale is predictable (death of a spouse ranks at the top of the list), there are several surprising things that stand out. One of the most fascinating is that the word “change” pops up in 15 out of the 43 listed events. What’s more, the scale doesn’t indicate whether these changes are good or bad. For example, change in financial state, change to a different line of work, and change in living conditions are all listed. Regardless of outcome—positive or negative—the stress associated remains the same, at least according to this scale.
Why is that? The reason revolves around the very nature of change. As human beings, we are creatures of habit. Any change—good, bad, or indifferent—comes with the potential for danger. We are evolutionarily wired to fear the unknown. After all, when our caveman ancestors disrupted the status quo, their lives were often put in jeopardy. Survival depended on consistency.
So it’s no surprise that career changes are stressful. Regardless of how dramatic the change may or may not be, there is inherent risk. It could be the best move you’ve ever made; it could be a disaster. No matter how well you plan for it or how certain you are that it’s the “right” move, there’s just no predicting the future.
Many people let this inherent risk scare them into staying stagnant. Change—and for that matter, GROWTH—of any kind requires confronting fear, weighing the risk against the reward, and taking a leap of (intelligent) faith. Yes, you may land on your butt once or twice. But it’s all part of the process. You take what you learn, pick yourself up, and try it again.
The best you can do is understand the risk you’re facing. Go in with eyes wide open. Do you have the time, money, capabilities, support, etc. needed to make this change comfortable for you and your family? If not, what’s missing? What are the potential consequences? What can you do to fill the gaps and reduce the risk?
Figure out exactly how much risk you’re willing and able to endure. What’s acceptable? What is too much? What goal are you trying to achieve? What will you give up (or put up with) in order to earn the potential rewards of this goal?
Lastly, manage your attitude toward risk. Know that anything worth doing will involve some level of potential danger. If things don’t work out exactly as you dreamed, you will recover. Shift your perspective and look at change as an adventure, an opportunity for growth. Don’t dwell on the risk.
Photo Credit: ClickFlashPhotos
Today’s career experts agree that most people experience a change of career 3 to 7 times throughout their working life. This means a complete transformation—new job, new industry, new employer. It’s a big deal. These are the kinds of changes that cause massive amounts of stress, anxiety and worry. Sure, they can be exciting at the same time. But overall, a change of career is nothing to sneeze at. It takes more planning and preparation than most people realize.
So, if you’re considering a career change, these tips will help you understand what to expect on the long road ahead.
1. Be Patient
When you’re ready for a change, you’re ready. You want it NOW. Only, it doesn’t work like that. Changing your career takes time. You can’t just drop what you’ve been doing and move on to the next thing overnight. It’s a process that can take up to several years. So don’t get in a rush. Enjoy the slow journey toward your goal. Remember that what you’re doing today still has value, even if it’s not ideal. Give yourself the luxury of time.
2. Do Your Research
What skills, education and experience do you need to make this career change? Perhaps you need to go back to school, or take an internship, or look for an interim job that will provide you with the background you need. It’s rare to be given the opportunity to do something completely new without any formal education or experience. It happens, but only for a lucky few.
3. Make a Plan
Map out the steps you will take to get from where you are to where you want to be and commit to a realistic timeframe. Look to your friends and family to help support you and hold you accountable. Or work with a career coach to create a concrete strategy and help keep you on track.
4. Get Involved
Your new career comes with a new community of colleagues. Get to know them. Learn their language. Find out what publications they read and what associations they belong to. Get to know the experts in the field and stay up-to-date on new research and emerging trends. Insert yourself into the world of this new career.
5. Be Willing to Start Over
The truth is that a career change often means you’re going back to square one. It can mean less money, less seniority, fewer benefits, and proving yourself all over again. If you’re not willing to make these kinds of sacrifices, you’ll need to reconsider your decision.
Remember that opportunities will expand as you grow in your new field. And determine what it’s worth to you. If this new career promises a greater sense of fulfillment in the long run, perhaps a little sacrifice is acceptable for now. Only you can make that decision.
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