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10 Steps to Successfully Changing Your Career

Are you considering changing your career?

Perhaps you’re one of the 9.5 million people in the UK furloughed due to coronavirus and the future of the company you work for is uncertain.

Maybe you’ve had more time to think over the last few months and now you want to follow your dream.

Or maybe you’ve enjoyed spending more time with your family recently and you want a career that fits around your family?

Whatever your circumstances, you can change your career. It may take time and it’s not always easy but it can be done.

Fifteen years ago I started my coaching and leadership training business. From what I’ve learnt along the way, here are my top tips for successfully changing your career:

1. Consider What Barriers You Face

What’s stopping you from changing careers? Maybe you’re worried about facing a drop in income, you need a qualification or maybe you’re worried about making such a big change.

2. Dig Deeper

Don’t write off a career or industry you’re interested in without finding out more and seeing if there is a way to overcome the barriers you face.

For example, if you need a qualification and the cost is a barrier, speak to the provider or institution to see what they can suggest, a low-cost loan may be available or you may be able to spread payments.

To find out more about a career you’re considering, seek out opportunities to speak to people already in the industry.

They may be able to offer advice, set up an opportunity for you to gain relevant experience or connect you with people who can help.

You may need to be open to change in order to get the job or career you want.

Downsizing for a few years or moving to a different area may help you to get the quality of life you want doing the work you want to do.

3. Dip Your Toe in the Water

If you can, find a way to try out the job or career that you’re considering alongside your current role. You may find that you prefer doing it as a sideline or a hobby rather than your full-time job.

When considering setting up my business I reduced my main job to four days a week and took up coaching one day a week to try it out to see if I enjoyed it and whether it would make any money.

4. Embrace Your Emotions

Changing your job or career is an emotional process and fear is part of it.

Maybe you’re emotionally attached to your colleagues or your customers. Maybe you’re afraid of making a mistake. Or perhaps you’re afraid of failing.

People around you are not in support of what you want to do.

Sometimes you need to be brave and go out on your own.

People around you may urge you to be cautious because they care about you. But if it feels right to you, trust your instinct and intuition and go for it.

The road to achieving your dreams may not be smooth. Worst case you may decide it’s not the right career for you, and you may need to try something else. But if so you will have learnt a lot along the way that you can use to try something else.

Best case you may just love it as much as you thought!

Remember that fear is part of it, it’s never easy trying something new.

Fear shows that the decision is important to you, but it doesn’t mean you should let that fear hold you back or stick with a job you don’t enjoy just because it’s comfortable.

5. You Can Do More Than One Thing

With an ever-increasing number of career choices, 30% of the workforce will now change careers or jobs every 12 months.

Even once you are happy and settled in your new career, you may decide to change it in a few years’ time.

Someone I know well has gone from being a senior civil servant to running their own photography business.

Another has gone from being a lawyer to becoming a stylist and another is a Partner at PWC and also has a gin-making business.

All the skills you learn along the way help with your next venture.

6. Try to Understand and Acknowledge Your Emotions

Changing careers is a Transitional Process.

William Bridges, author of Awesome Transitions, says that transition is the psychological process we go through to cope with the change.

Ask yourself how much is actually changing. Will you keep in touch with your colleagues?

Try to identify your emotions and accept that it’s ok and completely normal to be feeling that way.

Take some time out to take stock, think creatively and experiment with new ideas. Think about the life you really want to live and how to get there.

7. Powerless to Powerful

When we are in a transition phase, it’s easy to wait and hope for things to get better, find excuses or reasons why you can’t or blame others. But when you do this you are powerless and have no resources to move forward.

To move forward we must acknowledge the reality of the situation as well as the impact that this reality may have.

For example, I am saying yes to that promotion which means I am saying no to making a change in my career at the moment.

Whilst doing this it’s helpful to also consider whether these decisions are moving you towards or away from what you really want.

8. Circle of Control – Where Should You Focus?

The circle of control is a useful exercise to do.

First think about all the things that are getting in the way of your career change. Then work through the list and see whether you can control them, influence them or if they are outside your control. Put each in the relevant circle.

For example rather than thinking you can’t change career because you have a lot of bills to pay or the job market feels uncertain or you don’t know what you’d like to do.

See if you can overpay your mortgage for the next few months so that you can pay less in six months' time when you need to take a pay cut.

Spending time thinking about things that we cannot control or influence can leave you feeling frustrated.

When we focus on things we can control and influence we feel more in control and resourceful.

9. Consider What Anchors You in Your Career

What is important to you and non-negotiable at the moment?

At different points in our lives we want different things. Maybe at this point in time, you want autonomy, a new challenge, more work-life balance, or to give back?

When you consider new careers and opportunities, it’s helpful to bear these anchors in mind.

10. Use Your Strengths

Take time to consider what your strengths are and how you can use them to overcome your weaknesses.

Are you a skilled communicator, good at managing people or do you excel in problem-solving?

Seek feedback from people to help you identify your blind spots. Be as specific as you can to get the most helpful and constructive feedback.

Look at the strength scope or VIA Stengthsfinder for help identifying your skills and Myers Briggs for a personality indicator.

What Will Your First Step Be?

I encourage you to start thinking about your new job or career today, there’s never been a better time.

You spend a lot of your life working so you owe it to yourself to do something you really want to do and something you get a lot from.

For more detail, you may like to watch a webinar I ran for South Essex College:

Advice on Changing Career – Jenny Garrett

Have you considered working with a career coach to help you find the right career for you?


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