The Biggest Mistake Career Changers Make (And What To Do Instead) 

It’s another work day. You’re sat at your desk. You feel as miserable as you did yesterday… and the day before that.

Maybe you have the supposed job of your dreams and you’ve realised it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Maybe you’re in this career by accident. 

Either way, you want out. 

Luckily, in 2020, reinventing your career is absolutely possible and many people do it successfully. But it’s not easy, and if you don’t approach it in the right way it’s likely you’ll wind up feeling frustrated, sad and angry. 

Let me take the example of Francesca. She was a wealth manager in a well-known international bank, and had been working her way up the corporate ladder.  She totally was dissatisfied and disillusioned with her current reality: the working environment was toxic and the hours were long.  

Her dream was to land a role in real estate asset management and make a career pivot. 

Her vision came true and she stepped into her new, shiny job. She spent the first 6 months enjoying the challenge, and felt stimulated by all the new things she was learning. Soon after however, the novelty had worn off. 

“Is this really as good as it gets?” she wondered.  

Francesca made the biggest and most common mistake of career shifters: being reactive. 

Her desire for change was brought on by negative emotions elicited by work that just wasn’t right for her. Instead of focusing on the positive, what was working, what she did want, and what she did know, she focused on the negative. Francesca fixated on the external factors, such as “I hate my boss” and “my work is taking over my life” rather than focusing on the internal. 

The result was a desperation to find something else – quickly – to escape, without having taken the time to figure out what she really wanted to do. 

You don’t have to make the same mistake as Francesca. 

Here are three things you can do to get clarity and make a career change that aligns with what you truly want: 

Really get to know yourself

Commit to connecting deeply within yourself. Take time to figure out your core nature, what brings you joy and what’s important to you. Set time aside for this every.single.day. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

DO THIS: The questions below are a great exercise to start determining your truth. As you explore them, don’t be afraid to dig deep and listen carefully to your inner guidance. Make sure to highlight any common ideas that begin to emerge.

What is working for you right now, and what isn’t?

What gives you the most joy, satisfaction and renewal in your life? What is important about these things? 

What would you do if there were no limits?

What are you good at that you love doing?

Start a happiness journal over the course of one month. Write down every day what has brought you happiness: tasks, people, subjects.

Review your journal at the end of the month and see what you notice. What situations light you up? When are you most energised? 

Talk & Network

In the middle of the confusion that career change can bring, many of us hope that introspection will eventually produce a flash of blinding insight. But often solitary introspection, when not coupled with active experimentation, is dangerous. We can get consumed by our own thoughts, and move further and further away from clarity.

The good news? Due to months of lockdown, and social isolation measures, people are more open than ever before to networking and helping each other out.

Statistics show that people will change careers between 5—7 times. With job hopping now the norm, and with thousands of potential career paths available, talking to people who’ve had experience can hugely help  to narrow your options down. 

DO THIS: Commit to being ready to have conversations, and creating them yourself. You can do this by always being  intentionally open to having a chat; who knows who you’ll meet the next time you go to your local pub, shopping centre or cafe?

Think about who you know in your network who are doing jobs you’re interested in. Can you get in touch with an old colleague, colleagues of colleagues, or someone you went to university with and ask them about what they’re up to? LinkedIn is a great way to reconnect with people; DM them and organise a F2F or virtual coffee meeting so you can gather intel about their career. 

You can also use LinkedIn to cold network. If you don’t know of anyone who’s doing a career you may be interested in, connect with someone on LinkedIn who is. In general, people are happy to help.  

Get professional support

Reinventing your career so you can create a more fulfilling, purposeful and successful life isn’t easy. It takes time, and it takes work. It’s not a journey you want to embark on alone: you’ll need people in your corner, supporting you when the going gets tough.  

Studies suggest that we are 65% more likely to stay committed to our goals if we share them with someone else. Our chances of success further increase to 95% when we build in ongoing meetings with our mentors/coaches to review progress.

Accountability works. 

DO THIS: Find a mentor or a professional career coach who can keep you on track and hold you accountable. Meet with them regularly to check in on how you’re doing and iron out any problems.

I worked with Francesca as her career coach and helped her figure out her true passion in life: events management. We identified her unique experiences, crafted a powerful personal brand and tailored her CV that showcased her transferable skills so she could pivot to a career deeply aligned to her values. 

Changing careers is exciting, but it’s also scary. So many people don’t follow through on their dreams because they are too afraid. Don’t be one of them. 

Commit to taking action today. 

Follow me on LinkedIn and Facebook to get access to expert career advice so you can land a job you love. 

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