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How to Fail at Career Change #3

This is a three part series on the common errors that you could succumb to when changing career. Avoiding these will make your transition quicker and more fulfilling. Part 3.

1. Think that it should be quick

If you want to make a change, it can be frustrating when things happen slowly. You may think that the process ought to be quick. You might want to rush in. You may think that you know what you want: you like cooking, so you'll be a chef; you enjoy organising, so you'll do a project management course. By thinking in this way you are ignoring what these jobs fully entail and are reducing them to their most superficial elements.

Instead: Recognise that there are several steps to career change, and that jobs have aspects to them that are both positive and negative. Career change is a huge life decision, and should be treated with care and respect. If you are doing it right (in a way that will stick and bring greater job satisfaction) the stages should look roughly as follows:

· Pre-contemplation knowing deep down that you want to make a change, but you haven’t allowed yourself to think about it yet.

· Contemplation deciding it’s something you want to do.

· Serious examination daydreaming, researching, speaking to a coach, taking stock.

· Experimentation trying out some of your ideas, work-shadowing, interviewing people already doing roles like the ones that you are considering, volunteering.

· Revise doing a reality check based on your research and experiments.

· Plan deciding on a plan of action with logical steps that will take you to where you want to be.

Be prepared for some hard work. Recognise that it may take some time and that you may have to do it alongside your job. It will be worth it.

2. Believe that it will be easy

See above. There’ll be a lot of work involved. Sometimes you will feel discouraged and will want to give up.

Instead: Stay curious and interested in the process of career change, and it will be fun and interesting. Learn to sit with discomfort and tolerate uncertainty. Get other people on board with the excitement so that they can pick you up when it gets tough.

3. Get easily disheartened

In any process of change there are times when you just want to return to the status quo where it’s safe an comfortable. Change brings up feelings of fear and self-doubt, and sometimes when it’s hard-work, or it’s taking a lot of time, you will succumb to being discouraged.

Instead: Get a coach to help you appreciate the progress you are making, or have a good friend act as a cheer-leader or keep a journal so that you can revisit what you’ve done and what you have learned; remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and what you have enjoyed along the way.

4. Decide on a new career without experiencing it first

This one should be obvious.

There are few huge life decisions that you would make blind. Would you buy a house without looking at it first? That would be madness. First, you would want to know what the area was like, if the house had any flaws, if the proportion of the rooms was to your liking, whether there were good schools or transport links nearby… it wouldn't make sense to rush in to an investment like that.

Since you will be spending a large proportion of your time and effort on your new profession, you should give it the same care and attention that you would any other life-changing decision.

Instead: Do your due diligence, ask a variety of people in the career you fancy what they think of it, try it out for yourself, read blogs and listen to podcasts to get a feel for whether this is a path that is right for you. And be prepared to walk away if it turns out that it isn’t right for you.

5. Be inflexible

The whole point of your research and experimentation is to ensure that you don’t end up right back where you started. Frustrated, tired, bored or angry in your job.

If you discover that you don't like the career path you thought you would enjoy, you may worry about changing direction.

Perhaps you are embarrassed in case people think that you can't make a decision. Maybe you feel financial or time pressures and want to move things along. All of these are understandable. But being inflexible and sticking with tan idea you decided on at the beginning, despite the results of your research, is going to bring you misery.

Instead: Recognise that you have done good research and that you can trust your own intuition. If there are too many aspects of a career that don’t fit with what you value and what you want, it is easier to make tweaks to your plans now than it would be once you have embarked on a new job or business.

Trust your own judgements and don’t think that because you have started on one path that you can’t change course.


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