Change is HARD. It’s even harder if you’re considering a career change that has the potential to completely disrupt your life.
I work with many leaders who are thinking about their ‘what’s next’. As high achievers, one thing in common is that they’re keen to jump into action. But they struggle with landing on any tangible plan that’s satisfactory even though they’re keen to explore a different future. They feel conflicted and uncertain, so not surprisingly, they often feel like they’re spinning around in circles.
What they don’t realise is that they’ve skipped ahead. They are not ready – yet – mentally and/or emotionally, to make any concrete plans at this stage. And they don’t yet have enough concrete info to manage the uncertainty.
Pushing yourself to jump ahead when you’re not ready creates unnecessary angst and frustration. But that doesn’t mean you can’t work on defining what that change could look like, and what it means for you.
If you are contemplating a career transition, ask yourself what stage you’re at.
- Thinking about change?
- Preparing to change?
- Ready to implement change?
Knowing what stage you’re at will help direct your efforts as the focus of work is radically different in each stage.
Thinking about Change
At this point, you’re contemplating the possibility of a different future. You’re dream casting. Likely spurred on because something is missing or you’re looking for something more. It may be a greater sense of achievement or work that is more meaningful and fulfilling. Or perhaps you want to scratch that itch to strike out on your own.
You’re seeking answers but paradoxically, the questions are more important than the answers at this point.
Here are some questions to consider ….
- what do you want your next chapter to look like?
- how would you define success in your next chapter?
- what are you prepared to give up (maybe temporarily) to achieve it?
- what do you really want?
Preparing to Change
Your mindset is the most critical element at this point. It’s not about finding THE answer. It’s about gathering information to define possible pathways.
Experimenting is the name of the game. One common misconception is that you can think your way to the answer. A better way is to conduct little mini experiments so that you can test reality vs fantasy.
What you’re looking for are insights to help guide your decisions –
- is the reality as enjoyable and meaningful as you thought it would be?
- can you imagine doing this as a career? (as opposed to dabbling as a personal interest)
- what’s your financial roadmap, and safety net?
- what should you prepare for that you didn’t consider before?
You’ve now gathered enough information to start making decisions. Where do you want to transition to, by when, and what’s needed to get there?
Build a roadmap but remember the saying – Rome wasn’t built in a day. The actual transition process could take months or even years depending on what’s required to re-skill yourself and your financial needs. But now you have a clear destination in mind and it’s time to take action.
Career transitions can be complex but hugely rewarding. The good news is that IT CAN BE DONE! I’ve seen many others create a new, more meaningful future for themselves, and I’ve done it myself.
Most importantly, think of this as a journey of discovery where the answers are revealed over time. That liminal space in between not knowing and knowing may feel uncomfortable and uncertain but that is where priceless gold is found when you don’t rush the process.