Step One to Your New Career
* And 4 Tall Stories that get in the way *
‘I just wish I’d done it earlier!’
Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it?
Once you’ve made a decision and you’re deep into a new career, relishing every single minute, it’s easy to find yourself sighing about the time you wasted before taking the leap.
A little further down the road, when you’re building up a sustainable business or a dynamic team, it’s then that you might well find yourself saying:
‘ Why ever did I wait so long?’
Before the Leap
But let’s return to the scary place before the leap – when everything was unknown, gremlins were in full cry and you had no idea if you could make a success of your great new idea – that is if you actually had a clear idea in mind!
Thinking about my own career changes and those of my clients, I’ve noticed 4 common stories we all seem to tell ourselves to explain why we’re not making our dreams a reality:
1. This is the wrong time
2. I’m not ready
3. They need me here
4. If I ignore these feeling of pointlessness or frustration they’ll go away
Any of these can have a tenacious grip!
But calling them out and learning how to tackle each of these tales will ease the mesmeric hold they have on you. Ready to break free?
Uncovering the truth – and taking action
Story 1. This is the wrong time
While you may know rationally that there is no such thing as a perfect time to begin your career change, there may still be a part of you that subconsciously believes this is true. Have you heard yourself saying any of these:
‘I’ll just wait until the children have started school.’
‘I’ll think about it once this latest project is complete.’
‘I’ll really dig into this when the children have grown up.’
‘I’ll leave it until we’ve paid off the mortgage.’
‘I’ll be able to think about this when I’m back to full fitness.’
What all of these statements really boil down to is the belief that there will be a better time than now. So let me ask you question – what would a perfect time look like?
And if you managed to set up that perfect time, would you take advantage of it to work on a more fulfilling career?
Or would life throw something else in your path: a new family crisis, ill health, a house that must be decorated, redundancy, caring for a parent or partner? The list – as we all probably know from experience – is very, very long.
I’m not for a moment saying that there are not genuine reasons why ‘now’ is an awful time to set out on a career change. Some times are undoubtedly better than others. BUT! Be completely honest with yourself and ask:
Is this truly a valid reason to postpone this shift, or is it an excuse to not even try?
Behind the many excuses to procrastinate for another week, month, year or decade is quite simply the FEAR of what might happen. There are many things you can do to tackle these fears and I’ve written about them in this article.
So my first piece of advice to counter the story that this is not a good time is to ask yourself:
Is this based on real evidence or is it an excuse?
Why not take the first small step? You will at least have started!
Story 2. I’m not ready
This one is clearly related to the first, but is centred most specifically around your own readiness for change. When you hear yourself making these statements, get ready to challenge yourself:
‘I’m not ready.’
‘I need to finish this qualification first.’
‘I don’t have enough information.’
‘I must just read this book on my new industry.’
‘I have to speak to 10 more people in my target role.’
There will always be more books to read, information to gather, qualifications to achieve and things to do BEFORE everything lines up perfectly and you can begin.
The secret though is that you CAN start today. Right now.
Exactly as for number 1, you will never be perfectly ready. Anyone starting a new job fears they are not ready. When we sign up for a new course, we may well think everyone else will be better prepared than we are. In fact they are all thinking exactly the same as you!
I remember asking 30 new MBA students what their greatest fears were as they started the course and as we went round the circle and everyone spoke out about their fears, they all amounted to the same thing:
‘I’m not ready and everyone else here is going to find me out.’
30 very smart people were all in thrall to Imposter Syndrome.
Experience proved them wrong. They were ready – to take the first step, to learn, change, grow and succeed.
Action trumps perfectionism every single time. By taking the first steps, then the next, they finished their journey as proud MBA graduates.
In all honesty, they felt the fear and did it anyway.
Story 3. They Need Me Here
This is an interesting one because it becomes entangled with the notion that our choice to seek something new will disappoint and inconvenience other people. It invariably leads to the follow on question: Am I being selfish?
When we attach ourselves to the idea that we are needed where we are – despite our own unhappiness, stress or desire for a change – we are making a lot of assumptions. Some of these include:
· We’re irreplaceable – so good at what we do that no one else could possibly do it
· Our team would fall apart without us
· Clients would be disappointed – we’d be letting them down
An extra aspect of this story is the offer of a promotion. Perhaps discussing your thoughts of leaving with a manager has resulted in a counter offer – a step up or a new challenge. This is a golden carrot – and often throws a real spanner in the works. It’s nice to be wanted, even better to be offered more money, but is this likely to bring the fulfillment you’re seeking? Instead, try putting your own needs first.
I was discussing this with a friend of mine recently and she shared her story. Jennifer knows all about this scenario:
‘A few years ago I changed career from an Office Manager to a Social Media Trainer and Consultant.
I had been suffering with a back problem and following surgery I decided to make a career change.
I’ve no regrets whatsoever as I’ve been able to take transferable skills from my old life into the new one and learn a lot more. The benefits are mainly flexibility and staying true to my core values of communication, connection, kindness and collaboration.
I get to meet a great variety of people and learn about their businesses and careers. It’s very inspiring.
I got stuck in my last role for a lot longer than anticipated. I started on a maternity role and ended up there for 11 years. I received a good salary and bonus, which ultimately became golden handcuffs and fear held me back from making a move.
Sometimes the worst thing that happens to us can turn out to be the best. Nowadays I try to reframe fear as ‘feeling excited and ready’.
Jennifer Corcoran, LinkedIn Consultant & Trainer (My Super Connector)
Story 4. If I ignore these feelings, they’ll go away
Does this situation sound familiar?
Every day you dread going into work, feeling your job is meaningless and your skills are wasted. Your role just doesn’t motivate you any more and you’re starting to feel crushed by the effort to keep going. Can you really sit this out for the next 20 years? Really?
You’re not alone. Despite experiencing chronic unhappiness in our careers, it takes a lot before we are ready to do anything about it. When we’ve grown out of our work and it doesn’t fulfill us or even remotely interest us any more, this is a very slippery slope. Without meaning or purpose, our energy flags, confidence drains away and hopelessness starts to take hold.
Stop right there!
Unless you take your feeling of dissatisfaction seriously, it could well end in health problems, deepening anxiety and being signed off work for repeated ailments.
So here’s a truth: Ignoring the reality will NOT change it.
Jennifer’s ill health was a wake up call and I’ve worked with several clients who have suffered health problems before finally being forced to face their career crisis. Ideally, we should all do something to explore other career options before we have lost heart and mild symptoms have degenerated into physical or mental complaints.
Don’t drive yourself into the ground, burn yourself out or just ignore how you really feel. The best thing you can do is to look at the reality – you’re miserable at work, your health is suffering and you CAN do something about it.
If you can’t discuss your feelings with your manager or a wellbeing practitioner at work, seek out some professional help elsewhere to enable you to explore alternatives. Just admitting what is really going on will have a positive effect. One step at a time!
Do any of these 4 scenarios resonate with you?
When you can step back and access a new perspective, all kinds of opportunities open up.
And what is the first step to a new career? Quite simply it’s to DO something. Ignore all those excuses – and step into a more fulfilling future!
What’s YOUR first step?
If you’d like to discuss your current career situation and explore what steps you could take to change your working life, just use the button below to book a free 30-minute Discovery Call. I’d love to hear from you.