Changing careers or making a career choice is a very exciting and scary process. It is a big decision and one that you are likely to live with for many years. Most will change careers multiple times in their work life as there are so many internal and external shifts within a organization, industry or personally that a career pivot is the best way to move forward.
If you just don’t know what career path to pursue or have chosen a career or occupation that no longer or has never been satisfying you are not alone. I believe there is nothing more important than feeling like you fit in your job, with your team and colleagues and in your company.
I view a career pivot as a three step process, which I have outlined below. As you can see there are many questions to answer. Of course, you can do it yourself and I welcome you to do so. Yet, will you follow-though and make the best choice? I did not say perfect choice as there is nothing that is perfect or permanent.
Letting me be your guide through the process will allow you to relax and focus on what is most important each step of the way, which is You. I will keep you moving forward, offering objective feedback and support so you can feel confident knowing you are in great hands with a caring counselor that wants you to succeed.
There are many ways to assess who you are from formal assessments, exercises, activities and discussion. Based on your needs and desires you may do one or more as part of this process.
How did you get where you are?
The first and most important to thing to do when you feel stuck or lost is to pause and consider where you are and what brought you here
If you’re in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. I find that the first thing that someone who is pivoting needs to do is simply take a pause. All of us need to reflect occasionally on whether our lives are running the way we want. It’s so easy for the years to slip by and we never do or accomplish what we truly desire. (Or never even try).
So what is your story? What has driven your decisions to date? How did you get where you are?
What are you struggling with?
The next step is to gain clarity and to articulate exactly which aspects of your life are causing you pain. Equally, what’s working well?
What are your personality preferences, skills, interests and strengths?
Understanding who you are and what best fits your personality preferences is essential for job satisfaction. Being good at something is not a good enough reason to continue to do it.
For example, I am quite skilled at accounting, yet that would not be a strength because I don’t really like doing accounting!
Strengths are activities we enjoy, not necessarily what we are good at. We often feel drawn to them and they tend to leave us feeling energized and absorbed in what we’re doing.
Understanding and recognizing our interests and strengths is important because they help to define when we are at our best. Research shows that there are significant links between using our strengths and being happier and more fulfilled.
So what are your interests and strengths? And more importantly, how can you translate them into a paying job or maybe starting a business?
What do you enjoy?
What a deceptively simple question. Enjoyment comes in so many forms, but one thing to differentiate is what you enjoy for its own sake (intrinsically) and what you enjoy because you feel you should enjoy it. I caution you to be careful of Shoulding on yourself as often these are unrealistic expectations.
In addition, it’s useful to discriminate between things you enjoy because they move you in the direction of your values, and things you enjoy because they are a respite from things you don’t enjoy. There is a difference.
What are your values?
Career decision making is ultimately a process by which we must evaluate different options. At the heart of the word ‘evaluate’, is the word ‘value.’ Everyone talks about values but no one really understands what they are. We all have values that we live by, but values are most useful when we consciously define them as the principles (or directions) in life that are most important to us.
Choosing your values helps define the sort of life you want to lead and highlights the things that are truly important to you in life. Being clear on your values helps you to evaluate what’s important to you in your career.
What are your decision criteria?
Building self-awareness is not enough by itself to make a decision. To make good decisions we need to understand our decision criteria.
Good decision criteria captures everything that is important to us in the decision. These criteria can be anything – but it is rare that it is only money. Decision criteria usually includes skills you wish to use and develop, work environment and roles that fit your personality and the values you wish to stand for in life.
Without being clear about your decision criteria you will leave the decision up to your mind – and your mind will generally favor the routine and familiar. In other words your mind will keep you stuck right where you are.
The main problem with career pivots is most people immediately think in terms of jobs and viewing the job ads or registering on a job board.
What is missing from this is some creative consideration of alternative careers which are not advertised on the job boards. For example, I have worked with clients who created career portfolios, started their own business, became a day trader, worked consistently as a contractor through agencies or on their own, and developed their own job at major companies.
This stage is about generating ideas in line with what you want to do in life and navigating forward using your strengths and values. Career decision making is not only about choosing between options, but also thinking anew about our options for now and into the future.
IDENTIFYING YOUR BEST DIRECTION
What motivates you?
This is where we discover the reasons why you work – from the rewards that you receive to the mission that you dedicate your time to. Most of us work long hours. What motivates you?
In any career decision, you need to be clear about your purpose. Once you have that, what kind of jobs fit that description?
What roles suit you?
Our working lives are a little like an acting role, but as any actor will tell you acting takes time and energy. The further away from our ‘true’ selves our role strays, the more energy it will take from us. Study after study shows that a feeling of identification with one’s work role leads to greater commitment, contentment, meaning, life satisfaction, lower depression, longer life and faster recovery from illness. What we need to do is identify the working role (or roles) that suit you best and give you the most control and satisfaction.
What’s your purpose?
A purpose is an overarching goal that unifies and makes sense of other goals. However, we aren’t born with a life purpose, we must choose one. This involves starting from within and looking outwards towards the world, and asking ourselves – who will we serve? What do we believe and what causes are worth spending our lives on? How will we contribute to the world? How can we make a positive impact? What is our legacy?
Generating Career Options
If you think the way you always think, you’ll end up doing what you always do. That can be pretty boring and unsatisfying. Creative brainstorming is therefore essential to good career decision making. What did you dream of doing when you were little? What has your heart always secretly yearned to do? What would you do if you had 3 lives? Or if all jobs paid the same?
The key is to generate as many options as possible.
Evaluating Options & Choosing Your Direction
I encourage clients to do research and evaluate the options from many perspectives. What stands out? What can we now get rid of, and ‘let go’? Looking for patterns and themes within the results helps to narrow your options. You are now on the way to identifying your best direction, and getting unstuck.
Once you reach step 3 you have identified your best direction.
This is sometimes where your mind will often pipe up and start derailing the process:
- You haven’t thought this through!
- There must be a better direction than this!
- You can’t change at your age!
- This is far too ambitious!
It’s easy to start doubting the decision and to defer action. While this decision may not be perfect, deferring the decision may not be helpful either. There comes a time when not making a decision begins to look like the decision and that can leave you stuck.
Your Mind Is Not Your Enemy…But It Is Not Your Friend
It is critical to remember that the thoughts your mind gives you are motivated by its essential desire to keep you safe. It does not want you taking unnecessary risks, so its priority will be to try to delay or stop the change from happening.
On one level clients are desperate for change, on another their minds tell them that change is a bad idea.
Taking action at this point is crucial because it’s very difficult to ‘think’ ourselves into a new career. It is action that changes thinking, not the other way around. Once you move into action, you begin to learn and develop as a person, and gain a sense of momentum and meaning. And more often than not, you develop opportunities you could never have imagined when you were sitting and dreaming at your desk.
In moving forward into action we will focus on:
- Determining your vision
- Choosing goals that will move you towards your vision
- Developing your 1, 2 and/or 3 year plan
- Identifying risks and resources
- How you will sell or brand yourself
- How you will deal with setbacks
As much as you want to move forward your mind will never be certain about change so it is imperative to hold the doubts lightly and to develop the willingness to take action with keeping focus on your vision while walking in the direction of your dreams.
Let me guide you in making the change or pivoting towards what you truly desire. See yourself in that new job or starting your own business. It can become real.
In individual sessions in-person (in Monterey, San Jose or San Francisco CA areas), by telephone, Skype or e-mail I offer:
- Hourly sessions and package plans, and can customize services to fit your individual needs.
- A partnership with you in developing and implementing a self-empowering plan for your career and your life!
- Guidance and support that will provide renewed energy, self-confidence and a sense of purpose for making needed changes.
- Follow through coaching
- On Track Accountability