The Career Changer's SatNav - what to expect on your journey to an authentic career
When we set out full of hopes and excitement for a new career – one where we’ll be free to be ourselves and make the difference we crave – we have no idea at all what this transformative journey will hold!
It reminds me a little of having children, because how can we possibly know what joys, fears, frustrations and celebrations parenthood will bring?
Change will almost always be hugely uncomfortable, unpredictable, uncertain and disorientating. That’s one reason why so few people actually take this courageous leap of faith.
But what do we know of how deeply we’ll have to change, or what stages we might go through in order to blaze our new path?
Of course it’s possible to skip from one career to another, but this is likely to be a temporary fix. Without knowing ourselves deeply and what brought us to this place, we are on a superficial quest to ‘do something else.’ After a while, it’s likely that we’ll be here again, wondering what a fulfilling career really looks like.
I also know from my own experience that it’s all too easy to lose momentum along the way, to lose faith in an indistinct vision and give up – perhaps just before the big breakthrough. So what difference would it make if we had a road map to chart this career change journey?
The Career Changer’s Guide to Your Galaxy
Assuming knowledge is power, here’s my career changer’s guide to what you can expect upon this transformative journey:
Step 1. Disorientation
First of all something happens to throw you into the career change arena.
This might be and event like the loss of your job or even of someone you love. Events like this will knock you for six. It could also be a sudden change of location or other significant shift in responsibilities or social role.
On the other hand, the disorientation could stem from a sudden realization. You find yourself asking: What am I putting up with here? Or: There must be more to life than this!
The result of both these situations is that you find yourself in a new and disorientating place – a whirlpool of doubts, fears and confusion; and from here, there’s no going back. Many people will feel overwhelmed and full of depair; there is no sign of solid ground or familiarity.
Because as human beings we like stability, this is often where true transformation gets knocked out of the water. We resist and struggle to regain composure and control. But this is limiting – we can’t undo that realization or life-changing event, and if we carry on as though nothing is happening we are pretending. We are not being ourselves. We are denying ourselves if we revert to our former identity and scrabble for the safest and most familiar option.
The good news is, you don’t have to do it all on your own.
This is the point at which many of my clients reach out for a safety line and contact me for help.
Coaching here provides a safe context and a process. Initially, coaching can intensify the turbulence because it’s necessary to face it head on. But at the same time, the coach is championing the career changer on the journey. They can’t properly progress to the next stage unless they stay in the whirlpool long enough for change to happen.
This is just a part of the first stage of my Quickstep Career Change Programme – Clarity.
Step 2. accept Uncertainty
The career changer needs to surrender to the onward journey and stop trying to cling to the past. This is hard because their former role is part of who they were and still are. But to move on, it’s essential to let go to the past, even though that might mean a state of temporary uncertainty.
Gradually, it’s possible to open up to the idea of exploration. Discovering who they are now and what fills them with joy, wonder and fascination starts to open the door to the next stage.
What is possible now? They gather new perspectives, options and generate excitement along with these new possibilities. In this period of deepening exploration, ideas start to come together.
In my Quickstep Career Change Programme, this is where Clarity meets Direction.
Step 3. Emerging Clarity & Vision
In this phase the career changer gains broader and deeper clarity and starts to bring their vision for the future into play. Expansiveness shifts to focus. Their commitment to the future is more tangible now and they are more ready to claim new possibilities and express their new identity. There is real excitement at what might be possible and many experience clear A-HA moments.
In my Quickstep Career Change Programme, they are moving from Direction into Action so they can build their brave new world.
Step 4. Integration & New Path
In this final phase, career changers are planning an authentic working life based on their newfound knowledge of who they are, what matters most, and how they want to create something new on these foundations. Here, everything stacks up and practical steps are created to achieve their desired goal.
In the Quickstep Career Change Programme this is the Action phase – everything makes sense and the career changer is confident they have made an aligned choice.
Well, that’s the theory! And yes, the four stage overlap – because we’re all different and everyone experiences transformation differently.
Rocks along the way
Some people in the career changer’s life may want them to cling to their former identity. Parents, partners, colleagues all may urge them to stay where they are – because this is what they know. This is where a coach is a powerful ally if the client decides the authenticity of this change is their priority.
It takes much courage to set off on this new journey. Knowing the way-markers along the route is empowering. When you know where you are in the process, it’s easier to keep going and to see it through.
It won’t all be plain sailing! There will be internal factors to rock your boat (doubts, fears, loss of vision, getting stuck) and external bumps to take you by surprise (relationships, setbacks, brick walls). The practice of checking back into individual insights and authentic goals is essential to success.
If you find yourself stuck - as many people do - here’s my free guide with ideas and resources to get you through the 6 biggest barriers to career change success:
How do you know that you’re finally on the right path?
One clear guide for me is that sense of true alignment – when values, purpose, talents and passion all line up. This sings with conviction and it’s impossible to miss.
I can also see in my clients’ faces and in their actions after we’ve worked together that they are on track to fulfillment. These results testify to a choice made from the most authentic of places.
Does this 4-stage process resonate?
And where are you on your own career change journey? I’d love to know - please leave your comments!
If you’d like to discuss getting started or breathing new life into your career change, please get in touch.
You can read about my career change services here: