Top 10 Tips for Life and Career Change

Need that push to take action on your career? Learn the tips, steps, and what to expect when deciding on a career change!
career change

Top 10 Tips for Life and Career Change

Life isn’t easy – we are all generally doing the best in our lives with the resources that we have. Even though social media perpetuates the myth that everyone is living perfect lives, most of us know that this is simply not true. Dips and bumps along the way are part of our normal life journey and the challenges that arrive are healthy and often bring out the best in us. It is known that we live our best and happiest lives when we are embodying our true authentic selves and do not try to be like everyone else. To achieve this, it’s vital to recognize your uniqueness – there is nobody on the planet who has the same cultural, ethnic, educational, social, and life experience mix as you!

Understanding our uniqueness, controlling our egos, living in the present, and treating ourselves with self-compassion enable the self-reflection needed to make changes to the path we are currently on. These tools allow us to plan significant life changes, career changes and to take a divergent path.

Top 10 Tips for Life and Career Change

1. Our identities are not set in stone

Our future self which includes our future life and future work is up to us to determine. We can start planningand implementing small changes rightaway.

2. As change is constant, we mustprepare ourselves with tools and skills needed for the future.

Preparing ourselves for the future in which we will be living longer and engaging in jobs or careers that do not even exist yet.

3. Take small, calculated steps to make the change.

Career change doesn’t have to be a big dramatic shift. Small, calculated steps in new directions including experimenting in different areas are some of the best ways to start.

4. Change can be difficult – be prepared

Help and advice can be required to overcome some of the typical barriers introduced to us by our friends or family, social norms, and our finances.

5. Upgrade your social network

Talking to people that you already know and those you don’t know about your plans and projects can really help clarify what you want, where you want to get to, and how you will get there.

6. Know your reasons why

Make sure that you are changing for the right reasons. The grass is not always greener on the other side.

7. Is career change right for you?

Career change is not for everyone, the timing might not be right for you at the moment. However, if you are under 50 years old there is a significant chance that you will find yourself in a new or transitional career within the next 30 years.

8. Career change takes time

Career transition can take around 12-18 months. Take small steps consistently over time to build up your momentum.

9. Embrace the excitement and the uncertainty

Career and life change bring with it excitement and uncertainty. Learn to embrace the unknown and ensure that you make realistic goals.

10. Help somebody else

Find somebody who is also going through a change process and help them. It’s a fact that giving advice helps the advice-giver deal with the same issue. Giving advice to others helps you clarify what you want and what you need.

Why Should I Think About Career Change?

It could be argued that career change is a vital skill. As technology continues to evolve at such a rapid rate, our future will involve significant job automation, job change, and job creation. Many of us will need to learn new skills, techniques, and tools. Much of the work required in the future will be with careers and jobs that currently don’t exist right now, and the definition of the traditional work model will be very different from what it is now. As our life expectancy continues to increase, we will need to work for more years before we retire. Working from home is now normal and we are continually dependent on new technology in many different facets of our lives and careers. As technology brings about new opportunities, it also causes disruption to many sectors and has forced companies into restructuring. We are now increasingly working in an economy with more opportunities for freelance, gig, and portfolio careers. Changes due to COVID-19 and the variants of the virus combined with the push for sustainability have made a massive impact on the structures of work and the economy. If we don’t show the flexibility or understanding to be able to or think about work change, we may be hindering our future selves and our future lives. Professor Herminia Ibarra (London BusinessSchool), states that because we are living longer, the same work will no longer be challenging enough to keep us engaged so we may curiously and creatively want to try different types of work. We may have to reinvent ourselves several times over which is possible as our lives and our identities are not set in stone. Who we are today is different from who we were 1 year ago and who we will become in 1 year is also different from who we will become in 5 years’ time.

What is a Career and Meaningful Work?

A Career for many of us means financial rewards, passion, fulfillment, interest, social, identity, and much more. However, the emergence of the pandemic has created a space for many of us to ask ourselves some big questions and reminded us of our mortality. One of the simplest and most powerful questions to ask yourself is this – does the deal of giving up a set amount of time in return for a set amount of money still work for you now as it has done in the past? Over multiple lockdown periods, we have been less distracted with holidays and socializing which may have given us the time to self-reflect on work, life and meaning. A recent survey shows we seem to be shifting to want and to obtain more meaningful work. Meaningful work is very different for each of us and usually determined by our values and aspirations and elicited by guided self-reflection or introspection.

What is Career Change?

Career change or professional reinvention is generally not a quick simple shift, it’s more of a lengthy transition. There are elements of identity, security, psychological and social needs tied up within the context of our careers, which means that the transition can be both complex and challenging. The transition can be described as moving away from something that you are very familiar with but not actually leaving it and at the same time moving towards something else but not quite knowing what it is you are moving towards. It is a messy and non-linear process and it’s not something you can simply plan and then execute as it doesn’t usually follow a set plan. The best description of a career change is ‘an iterative process of experimenting and learning where small steps are taken towards an unspecified and moving target, which changes shape and size the closer you get towards it. Understandably, this process can take time. The career change process usually kicks off after we have been on the well-defined path of school-university-career, and we get to a stage where we want to take another path. As unique individuals, with unique backgrounds, we won’t necessarily be following in the footsteps of someone who has done the exact same career change before so we will need to create our own personalized new path that guides our own personal career change.

Initial Thoughts About Career Change:

Career coach, Kate Richardson, recommends that there must be an initial urgency or desire for change. The trigger could be a feeling of being pulled towards something or pushed away from something else. Once you know you want to change, overcoming the initial inertia is really challenging, and knowing where to start is difficult. A career change can be catalyzed by the feeling that you only have one life, so you should use it wisely and do something you that feel passionate or excited about with your life. This often means that sacrifices need to be made if your career change involves re-education and the possibility of a reduced income for a certain time period. You may need to look at your finances – can you put a price on your happiness and growth at work?

Barriers to Career Change:

Friends, family, and co-workers may tell you that you shouldn’t leave your current job and financial security and that change is too risky(note that many of them will also be jealous of your decision!). However, career change done well involves a slow transition using side jobs, small projects, small steps, and making a final change only when there is adequate income to cover financial needs. Questions to think about such as, how much money do you need to live with your current lifestyle? what things are non-essential (that you could forgo for a while)? Discussions need to be had around finance to see what is possible and re-evaluations of our priorities as we may realize that we could make small changes to our lifestyle to reduce our monthly expenses. Social norms and culture also play a part in how we feel about changing careers. For example, in the United States, it is seen as normal to change and re-invent oneself, however, in countries such as Japan and France and in some specific conservative cultures, it may be considered less socially acceptable to make significant career changes.

What Will Happen When You Decide to Transition Your Career?

Once you decide to make the transition and start thinking about other possibilities, you will have a list of possible future selves in your head that don’t exist yet until you start exploring your possibilities. You will then transition into a period of ‘fertile emptiness’, and you will feel that your life journey lacks clear direction – you will be in-between the old and ‘new’ you. You may lose some of your work-related identity and it may be hard also for the people around you who will try to help you to become more stable. However, it is vital that you continue to express your ideas and possible future-selves. The key thing here is not to quickly pick a career simply to get out of this uncomfortable phase, instead, use this phase to explore and understand what you want and what makes sense. This middle phase challenging, but with the right support and guidance and after experimenting with many options you will be able to make the transition that is right for you.

What Can Help with This Transition?

It can really help to first determine your personal values which will then inform what is important to you at work. If you struggle to determine your values, a technique of reflecting back on your life at key moments where you felt strong, proud, satisfied, embarrassed, or envious can help elicit your values. Knowing your strengths can also help with the transition. Your strengths are those things are that you are naturally drawn to that give you energy and allow you to perform at your best. To determine your strengths, self-reflection into our early lives as kids where we naturally used our strengths can be a good start. Guidance using online tools such as strength-finder’ to help elicit your values and strengths is useful.

How to Start Career Change Using 3 Practical Steps:

STEP 1 - USE SMALL PROJECTS TO TEST POSSIBLE FUTURE-SELVES

  • Do different things, take advantage of new projects within your company
  • Work with friends on other projects
  • Start a side project(s)
  • Take advisory work or start freelance work
  • Volunteering in organizations to get started on using new skills will help build momentum.
  • Take a short course in a new field
  • Give a class or presentation in your current or new field

STEP 2 - NETWORK

Free yourself from your usual everyday discussions by adding new connections, re-activate ties with people you know but don’t usually talk to and to people you have lost contact with. Coach Tony Robbins often says that you are the product of the 5 people you spend the most time with and a direct reflection of your peer group. Changing what you talk about and who you talk to, even when you think that it won’t lead to a possible new job or career, activates the thinking process and helps you clarify your thoughts within the transformation process.

STEP 3 – REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION

Make sense of the experiences that you are going through by self-reflection and use this to feed a thought process that helps you understand what to do next. Our identity is often rooted in our work so careful self-reflection on what we are now doing helps the transition. If we are forced to reflect and importantly tell others about what we are going through it significantly clarifies our mind and helps us get to where we want to go.

What is the Best Age to Change Your Career?

The concept of the ‘100-year life’ is now being talked about as normal by Prof Andrew Scott(London School of Economics) and others. It doesn’t make sense to study when we are young and then get into a job for the rest of our lives. Multiple skillsets, as well as the ability to take a break and go in and out of careers, will set us up well for the future. As we live longer, the separate ideas of work, time, money, and life will change and become more fluid. Work-life balance describes what you want to do in your life vs what you do to earn the means to live your life. As we continue to live longer, work is increasingly becoming more complex and is more intertwined within our lives, our work will take a different and perhaps more significant place in our lives.

Career change is not for everyone, the timing might not be right for you at the moment. However, if you are under 50 years old there is a significant chance that you will find yourself in a new or transitional career within the next 30 years.

Tips from People Who Have Already Made a Career Change

  • Work is a huge part of your identity, especially if you have built up many years of expertise and networks in a certain area. A big change is very scary so small steps and experimentation in a direction to help determine what you want to do is the way forward.
  • When you are working on your new business or new venture you will feel lucky to be alive and in a flow, state where time will melt away. You should get that deep satisfaction and feel connected to your job.
  • During the pandemic, many of us have re-evaluated our choices, values, and relationships. This means we may have new opinions on money and life balance. A career change also requires a belief and overcoming fear– don’t let fear dictate what you want to do.
  • A sudden career change can be daunting and difficult especially if you have a family to support, so small steps can be a much easier and safer way forward.
  • Speak to new people in different industries outside of your usual network who are doing what you aspire to do.
  • Start experimenting on new things – a short online course, start working on a side project, put your hand up at work to lead a new project in an area that you wouldn’t usually work in.
  • People can sometimes rush into starting a new degree or course when thinking about a career change. This costs time and money and may not be the right way forward. Instead, start with a free online course (Coursera), listen to TED talks, use the LinkedIn learning platform before spending significant time and money on a lengthy course or degree.
  • You need to become resilient and understand that rejections will come. It’s difficult especially if you put your heart and soul into an application and then get knocked back. The more rejections you get, the closer you are to your goal. Persistence is key and doesn’t quit your day job straight away!
  • You will feel so much happier and have so much more energy once you have found your purpose. WhenSunday comes, you will feel excited about the week ahead!

About the Author

Claire Denut-Samuels is passionate about motivation and personal growth,  a positive and caring Executive Coach who helps leaders and teams think differently and take action.
She has 17 years of international experience in management and leadership, and a strong track record in engaging teams and customers to achieve their goals.

Valentin Berard

COO at GrabJobs. Valentin leads strategic and operational activities regionally. Background in Business Development and Recruitment. Passionate about social innovation, he constantly strives to find solutions to real-world problems through harnessing smart technology. Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeberard/