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.