Sometimes hopping from career to career can be wise, fulfilling, and even beneficial, as you carry with you what you’ve gained in experience, knowledge, and contacts from past jobs. Our choices don’t have to be forever. How refreshing!
You hear it all the time, and admittedly you’ve heard it here: “Follow your passion!”
It’s not always the best starting place because you might get stuck, not sure what that means. However, as you explore, develop skills, and find work that brings value, your passion may emerge.
These days it’s very rare to find anyone who stays in a job for life the way our parents did.
If you find yourself in the situation looking for a change, here are some tips to help you get through:
“Fear of failure, of looking silly, of being rejected, of losing status — it’s the single biggest dream killer in the world of work,” but don’t let that stop you from making what could be your best move yet!
Mental illness, suicide and depression have been everywhere on broadcast and online media in the last week due to the tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. The reality of changing careers by choice or by force can put many of us on a shaky limb with our mental wellbeing. Let’s address some of the reasons why and some factors that can help steady the course of big changes.
Money + Uncertainty + Identity Crisis = Troubled Times
In my experience, money is the first factor that shakes one’s stability in the career transition journey. Even people with ample savings or the ability to start retirement (although not their preference) get anxious about finances when facing a change in job or direction.
Add uncertainty which in and of itself can set people off. Then throw in the identity crisis which creeps in from even considering giving up a role that has defined for decades, and you have a fertile breeding ground for emotional disruption. Change, for most people, is no picnic. But, that doesn’t have to be a deterrent to making one.
Richard came to work with me recently after being let go from a high paying job. He had enough money to retire if he had to, but he wanted a few more years of earning a top income to feel more secure. The opportunities, however, were not showing up and the truth was, we discovered, he had no motivation to pursue them. He was feeling down.
The lack of motivation was due to really wanting to do something more fulfilling, but he didn’t see any way for his interests to equate to any salary remotely close to what he was making. The result? Complete paralysis.
Through the Now What?® Life Story process Richard began to see what he wanted to weave back into his life. However, his mood did not automatically improve. He still found more reasons to doubt a happy outcome than to believe in one, and he couldn’t see beyond his doubt. Music and songwriting was a long-gone passion that he wanted back in his life, but he knew he was not going to be a more than-middle-aged rock star so just as quickly as some excitement showed up, his spirits were quickly dampened.
Before one particular session, I had an intuitive inkling to mention to Richard an idea about an artistic space where music recording, lessons, and performances could all take place. As soon as I did, the light bulbs started going off! One thing led to another, and as I write this he is exploring a few opportunities to do something along these lines. Some already existed and others he would need to raise some funds for (which he can certainly do)! He also took on another creative project or two , and his spirits are lifting tremendously.
Richard and his wife decided to downsize their home to make their finances more comfortable. And, as sometimes happens, an opportunity to do some of his old work without a stressful full-time job showed up as well. Things are still in flux, but the darkness has dissipated. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
How do you do this yourself?
First, don’t go down the path of thinking that he has money and you don’t. I’ve seen results like this without financial freedom. Secondly, decide which “wolf to feed.”* Do you want to keep dwelling in dread or do you want to invest in possibilities – things that just may work out?
Like all my clients, once clear on some possible angles, Richard took small step after small step to talk to people, network, ask questions, and follow the leads where they took him. You can do this too.
Here are a few tips:
● Take extra good care of yourself—sleep, drink plenty of water, eat right, take walks, whatever is right for you, do it.
● Gather support—don’t go at it alone. Engage someone to hold you accountable, have cheerleaders, join a group of like-minded folks and make it happen together.
● Maintain rituals– the things in your life that work and comfort you and do more of them, whether it’s journaling, exercising, weekly dinner with particular people, etc.
● Take small steps—Small steps are more easily attainable, they get you moving forward, and when they bear fruit, they encourage you to take more.
To keep emotions and fears from eating you up, to navigate the lack of structure that comes from being out of work, and to stay mentally fit, try some of the above. If you’re suffering or feel afraid of your own feelings, please do get help. Here are some helpful resources for those in need.
National Institute of Mental Health 1-866-615-6464
Follow your dreams! Live your passion!
We hear it all the time and sometimes it just sounds too good to be true. At Now What?® we know that it’s possible, and we know that it’s more likely to be successful when certain steps are taken.
Sometimes we need real-life examples that it can work.
Here’s one that not only offers the story, but also takes you through some concrete steps that this man took to move from a “sensible life” to a fulfilling one.
Jumping from one industry to another may make it more challenging to relate your relevant skills to the hiring team.
Read on for some simple tips to help you identify, own, and clearly communicate the valuable skills you bring with you.
Richie had a high-powered job in the financial industry. He’d been “between things” for three years when he came to coach with me. He was stuck in circular thinking that left him with only one choice that tortured him. He kept looking for another job in the same field, although there was no traction. He saw no other way. In his mind, nothing else was possible, and he felt powerless to change that.
Except . . .
Truth be told, Richie wanted to get back to his roots as a musician and lead a more creative life. He wasn’t willing to start living off his retirement savings (although he could), and the odds of becoming a rock star were slim. He declared it a dead end.
However . . .
Before one of our sessions, in my mind’s eye, I imagined a studio space where lessons, recording, small performances and a jovial musical play space could all coexist. I shared that with Richie and sparks flew. He knew people he could talk to, and off he went! What he found was that such places already existed, and that some of his contacts were open to investing in something like this.
Which one was the dead end? The new road or being stalled on the old road? The final destination is not wrapped up yet, but the momentum has been carrying Richie to new possibilities that will pay him. Not at finance industry rates, but likely enough to leave his savings intact for now.
So now, I challenge you, dear reader.
How powerless are you? Are you truly powerless or are you simply unwilling to jump into the wave of uncertainty? Like the old Robert Frost quote says: “The only way out is through.” The only way to know is to dive in. Explore, make inroads, and assess from inside an idea. It’s so much easier to discover from this vantage point rather than from the outside where it’s protected in a glass cloche that makes it impossible to touch.
As I say in “Now What?,” you don’t have to decide. Life will tell you if you’re wrong. Explore a path. If it gains traction, it has merit. Finances will, of course, be a factor, but you have to be honest with yourself. You may not WANT to begin touching your retirement, or you may not WANT to invest in yourself to get on your feet in a new endeavor, but if you CAN, why keep pursuing the path that hurts you mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
For those who can’t even fathom the thought of living without immediate income, this does not mean the end of the road for you. It means that you will want to include aspects of the newfound direction in whatever you do next. It means that you are back in touch with your “Life Blueprint,” or your unique way of contributing to the world that will bring you the most satisfaction. It MUST be included in some way.
It’s not what you do for a living that will make you happy. It’s who your job allows you to be.
Let us know how we can support you to make it happen. We’re here cheering you on!
“To thine own self be true . . . ”
It’s not just a line from a Shakespearean play! It’s great advice for anyone any time, and particularly for entrepreneurs creating a business that reflects, inspires, and supports them!
Stop comparing to others or trying to do things the way someone else does. Find what really works for you and flourish from that place!
When transitioning into a new line of work, you want to make sure you’re prepared. As with embracing any type of change, it can be a bit rocky at first—and the uneasiness can be even harder when it’s about your career, which holds so much value.
However, by preparing yourself for what’s to come and asking yourself the necessary questions to guarantee you’re directed on the right path, you’ll be more likely to secure a smoother transition and come out feeling confident in your decisions.
Here are 5 things to consider before making a career change, to determine how best to go about it and what outcome you’re searching for.
What Lifestyle You Desire
What lifestyle do you want to create? What aspects will improve your quality of life and wellbeing?
Many of my clients want to enjoy a more relaxed and balanced life with more time for simple pleasures, especially as they get older and are approaching their second act. Having this work-life balance is really important for personal and professional fulfillment, so you’ll want to make sure you’re transitioning into a career that can give you what you need.
Also, consider the pace. Fast? Slow? Do you envision making a geographic move? Freedom and flexibility?
Here’s a client example. Alison moved south to Florida and took a big pay cut to start her own business in providing home safety services for the elder care population. She let go of a 30-year career and senior manager role with a prominent NYC publishing company at the age of 49. She longed to be out of a corporate career and build something meaningful.
She now lives on the water in Florida with a relaxed pace. She loves her new home office, and I helped her devise an exit plan and negotiate a buyout package. She established her second act with her new husband, and they created their “dream come true” together.
Your Life Story, Not Your Resume
The book “Now What? 90 Days To a New Life Direction” by Laura Berman Fortgang contains a time-tested method for reinventing your career and life when faced with a crossroads. With my clients, I use this method to guide them towards career clarity. Most clients use conventional methods for job search but often end up more confused and frustrated than before.
Instead, with this book’s expertise, I coach them in a more non-conventional way to look for clues as to what they really want to do. We look to remove things that are draining energy first, then we consider the new identity to pursue, we work on reframing limiting beliefs and identifying their purpose statement, and from there, we create fictitious scenarios, so they can see themselves soar.
Many conventional methods are focused on logic and stifle creativity. So, together we can help them see that their future direction is probably not in their résumé, but rather contained within their life story.
Michelle is an excellent example of a professional who proactively set out to develop her second act by examining her life story. She conducted a career assessment using Now What? to plan a 5-7 year strategic process for manifesting a career that would move her into retirement. She went back to school while continuing to work full-time for a leading publishing company and got her master’s degree in library science.
As an introverted type, she realized she wanted a calmer, less draining role with fewer hours and no leadership and staff responsibilities. Now, at the age of 58 she’s still working a full-time job, with normal hours and doing the research she loves in a marketing career.
How Your Career-Related Values Have Changed
What are the most pressing needs you can’t live without fulfilling? What are your highest values? These typically can change, so it’s important to re-evaluate every so often to make sure you’re still happy in the career industry and path you’re pursuing.
Most of my clients have had to do some serious soul-searching and inner reflection to figure out their core values. A few weeks ago a client called me with a serious values dilemma. He was offered a very good position as a content writer for a very prominent law firm, but he felt as though he’d be selling his soul if he accepted.
The money was too good to turn down and something he seriously needed to consider at age 50 with 3 kids to put through college. The amount of time spent ruminating about money and sleepless nights would abate once taking the job. I had him consider the possibility of enjoying the work and team. He accepted the position with much relief.
How Long It’ll Take To Get There
I have many clients that fantasize about making a radical change, but after seeing the reality of it, they’re overwhelmed. This is not a quick process. You must be in it for the long haul if you really want to discover something new.
Most major career changes take an average of 18 months to 3 years to fully execute. Many clients have timed their exits very carefully before leaving and have often secured a package. Those who haven’t gotten a package have banked their money carefully.
Still, while you must be financially prepared, don’t let the money stop you. You can say to yourself, “This is not a never issue. It may just be not right now.” Be proactive, and plan 3 years ahead of when you want to make the change.
For instance, this is often the case with millennials who aren’t financially secure so early in life but are looking to make a drastic career change. A 25-year old girl was in PR and wasn’t making much money, working endless hours, both at the office and out entertaining in the evenings. She wanted to exercise, see friends, sleep, and maybe cook a meal or two at home.
Yet, she wasn’t in a position to leave with a package or enough years under her belt. So, she figured out what avenue she wanted and planned to head there in three years. She worked with clients in the industry she coveted and built a network, so once the time arrived, she’d have several people to reach out to.
Taking A Bridge Job Before Making The Leap
I’m a big fan of creating a 2-step plan, and this has consistently led to greater success for my clients.
For example, an opportunity might be right under your nose within your current organization. I have a client who went into banking, where he could work and live abroad in Hong Kong, and travel all over from there as part of his senior role. He fulfilled his desire to travel, while maintaining his career.
Here’s another example: you may have grown tired of being self-employed, but rather than abandoning your profession, you explore making a lateral move by leveraging your skill set with an employer offering a job opening in the same industry.
Whatever awaits you, see if it makes sense as a middle point before your next life-changing move.
Please feel free to leave any comments or personal stories. Helping others find their way is what inspires me to do my life’s work.
Experience helps us to easily recognize patterns. Recently, I’ve seen a scenario enough times to know exactly how things were going to go. I’m here to warn you that if you’re going down a career transition path or completely looking for a career reboot, there are some dead ends you’ll want to avoid.
Here are three red flags (of many) that tell me in a free consultation I won’t get results with an individual and that their strategy for finding a place to land will tank. I know this because when I refer these people on to someone else to try to get what they want, they inevitably come back to me later when they didn’t get it.
“I want a list of fields that are hiring.”
Yes, and I’d like to winning numbers to the $300 million POWERBALL prize! This is not a strategy for success.
You may land a job. You may be able to cross that chore off your list, but you’ll be at it again very soon when the pick off the list doesn’t engage you in any way. Looking for the easy way, the way that “makes sense,” does not make sense if you truly want to find a good fit.
“I want contacts for recruiters who can place me in a job.”
That sounds reasonable. Having relationships with recruiters who are looking for matches for openings in your field is a good thing. However, when people ask to be connected to them, they are often operating under a false assumption. That assumption is that the recruiter will give a damn.
Recruiters don’t work for you. They work for the company looking to fill a position. They won’t take the time (nor can they) to nurture you or amend your resume unless you fit exactly what they need at the moment you contact them.
If you fit what they were looking for and you’re on LinkedIn, they would have contacted you already! Recruiters are to be included in a thorough search, but they are not the answer you may think they are.
“I need help with my resume and marketing. What I have isn’t working.”
This can be a very legitimate issue, but I’d put it in the “barking up the wrong tree” category when someone tells me they’ve been at the job search for a long time. When the doors are not opening after a worthy set of attempts, it’s not the resume that’s the problem. It could be changes in the industry or maybe the way you’re presenting yourself, but most likely, what it means is that you have to pivot and do something else.
Each of these markers tell me that you want a Magic Bullet. You want someone to give you the answer, the magical formula, that will allow you to sidestep the hard work and pain that it may well take to find a truly satisfying landing place.
Satisfaction doesn’t come from the job itself. Even the great financial relief of having a job won’t solve the soon-to-be drudgery that lurks around the corner when you settle for any old job.
Satisfaction comes in a job that plays to your strengths, stretches you, and gives you an opportunity to master something that matters to you. Satisfaction comes from who your job will allow you to be. None of the above strategies are likely to get you there.
If you’re wishing for a magic bullet (and, let’s be honest, most of us are), let us help you get to the real issue instead. You need to know what you want, and it becomes much easier to get it when you do!