The courage to change career shows up when we choose to begin, do the work and realign.
Start your 2021 more focused on your career aspirations and grounded in your values around your professional self. Here are some of my top-performing posts that connected on a human to human head and heart level to help people move forward in 2020.
Take what works, leave what doesn’t.1. YOU DON’T HAVE TO HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS BUT WHAT’S NOT NEGOTIABLE IS THAT YOU HAVE THE RIGHT QUESTIONS:
Being curious will allow us to discover what is possible for us to explore in our career. The value of asking ourselves the right questions is key to cultivating curiosity.
Here are some questions to help you discover your ability to cultivate curiosity.
1. Am I comfortable entering a conversation, not knowing how it will turn out?
2. Can I suspend judgement and scepticism?
3. Do I expect to be surprised when I speak with others?
4. Can I suspend my need to fix things?
5. Am I genuinely interested in what others have to say?
6. Am I prepared to admit I don’t understand something or someone?
7. Do I ask questions without having the right answer in mind?
8. Do I get energy from finding out what works for me and others?
9. Am I self-motivated to dig deeper when I want to learn more?
10. Do I enjoy learning things about people I didn’t know before?
11. Am I comfortable following someone else’s lead in a conversation?
12. Do I believe people are interesting and complex?
If you have answered no to 4 or more, perhaps you may need to cultivate more curiosity in your life and work.
“The power to question is the basis of all human progress.”
2. ARE YOU EXPERIENCING A CAREER CHANGING HANGOVER?
I spent many years experiencing sobering stagnancy in my career.
Here is what that can feel like:
You wake up every morning numb.
You are unfit to get behind the wheel of your car as you spent the previous night tossing and turning with career fear.
You are void of feeling.
You ache for impact.
The present paralyzes you.
Toxins from filling voids in your career with bad habits to bandaid your dissatisfaction begins to poison your perception.
The light doesn’t come on.
The darkness causes you to stumble.
You don’t know what direction to go in.
The brain fog fuels your frustration.
Your head hurts.
You feel lost.
You want to get a sober view of your life and career.
Like a hangover you want the self-inflicted suffering to end.
What would that look like for you?
What would you have to do?
“Pain is inevitable. It is actually a great opportunity for growth, but when we blame or fail to take responsibility for our suffering, the pain becomes stagnant, and stagnant pain can have a compounding effect if left unchecked.”
3. THERE ARE LOTS OF THINGS A JOB CAN’T GIVE YOU
11. Sense of humour
14. Inner peace
Write down everything your role cannot take away from you as a whole person. What can you give yourself that your role or title cannot give you?
What do you need to feel whole again?
“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”
4. IF YOU STOOD ON THE EDGE OF YOUR EMOTIONS, WHAT WOULD THEY TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR CAREER?
Do you look fine from the outside but are delicate on the inside?
Do you perform well to portray an image of success but inside feel like a failure?
Do you love your work or is your work killing your love of everything else, including yourself?
Is your organization’s culture cheerleading you to a breakdown or burnout?
Do you look happy or sad?
Tough questions = deep work.
Deep work = addressing pain.
Addressed pain = clarity.
“Emotions can get in the way or get you on the way.”
5. WHEN HAVE YOU ALLOWED THE OUTER CRITIC TO BECOME YOUR INNER CRITIC?
Without a doubt, this is one of the most significant blocks I witness in clients who want to pursue change.
Clients regularly make statements like this in my work:
“ I realised I had a perfectionist for a father. Nothing I could say or do was ever good enough.”
Much of it stems from childhood, and some people will carry it into the present day and allow it to continue to block their perspective. It can become ingrained in their psyche and be difficult to remove this barrier to purposeful progression in an individuals career.
But with the right questions and approach, many professionals can begin to do the work to eliminate any fear-based blocks that this outlook can cause by working on honouring the strength and light inside them and letting go of the darkness that distraction causes them.
Here are some of the coaching questions I use as a professional coach to reframe someone else’s vision for you to your value-driven vision for you chosen by you:
Identify the triggers that lower your confidence and work on a reverse strategy.
1. What do I feel?
2. What do I say to myself?
3. How do I behave?
Change your outlook and enable more perspective and confidence by asking yourself:
1. How would I be without this thought?
2. What would it look like for me?
3. What would I think instead?
4. What would I do instead?
“Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality.”
6. COURAGEOUS CAREER CHANGES BEGIN BY GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF BACKWARDS
Here is a hindsight self-coaching conversation to have with yourself that will bring foresight for 2021.
1.Who are you, and what got you to where you are now?
2. Create a list of all your roles, positions and jobs held.
3. Which brought you joy, energy and a sense of persistence?
4. Which brought you boredom, disengagement and a sense of feeling disconnected?
5. What thoughts or ideas have repeated over and over in your head about your past and present career?
6. How have your interests and skills evolved?
7. What might you want to seek out in the future?
8. What will you want to avoid in the future?
7. TITLES BELONG ON BOOKS, NOT PEOPLE
“Know thyself and all will be revealed.”
― Pamela Theresa Loertscher
I’ve learned a job title doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as the depth, impact and experience my work brings to me at a whole-person level now. My previous titles lacked richness and a holistic view of me as a human and professional.
I heard someone state titles belong on books, not people.
This perspective is quite liberating in many ways.
When chasing a title, are we limiting the depth of our experience and measure of success?
There’s never enough promotions to go around for everyone. Sometimes the competitive nature of the challenge to achieve it invites the chase but for the wrong reasons.
Reasons that are devoid of values bar corporate career ladders. Competition is healthy in context but not at the sacrifice of impact and fulfilment.
From my work, I can say that is what causes a lack of motivation and boredom in most mid to late-career professionals. It’s better to know what you want to do instead of what title you want to chase.
Focus on what you want to experience, know and need to find fulfilment and impact. Creating the space to discover this pays off in the long term. Titles sometimes service short term bandaids. One’s that can blindsight us from true measures of value-aligned success.
“People don’t follow titles, they follow courage.”
8. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE OPPORTUNITY
I was recently thinking about my definition of opportunity. I also realize how much self-awareness is needed to identify in one’s head and heart if such “opportunity” benefits my life and career.
And if I don’t know how to recognize it for sure, it will pass me by. Shakespeares “know thyself” phrase is very apt here.
I sat with this further and realized that I recognize “opportunity” in my body. If it’s trying to tell me something, it’s usually not lying. If an opportunity shows up and I want to do some about it or allow it to help me transition into something else a feeling stays in my body. And it doesn’t go away until I do something about it.
I listen to my body. It doesn’t lie.
I jump into my gut instinct and try.
It doesn’t always work out, but if I keep an open mind, an outcome or result is usually closer than I think.
How do you recognize an opportunity?
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes — then learn how to do it later.”
9. WHAT DOES THE BIGGER PICTURE LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
Here is a simple self-coaching conversation to have with yourself in your own time.
The most significant change I have made in my career to date is____
I predict that my next significant move will be____
I can imagine a time when____
It may not go to plan if____
I could change my direction with the obsolescence of____
I was most affected when____
It made a difference when____
To pursue my career goal, I am going to need to____
Now consider your responses.
What do they mean for what you are doing now?
What would like to be doing in your future career?
10. MY BIGGEST HEADACHE I HAD WHEN MAKING A CAREER CHANGE
If You Want Something You Never Had, You Have To Do Something You’ve Never Done.
Asking for too many opinions.
Some people you know have no idea how to achieve the vision you have for your future career or business.
I encourage people to be very selective about where they seek their perspective in a career change process.
Being selective, of course, doesn’t stop people from giving advice. A lack of knowledge seems to push people to provide you with advice even more. I have done this myself. The truth is that’s the ego, and most would choose to feel important than admit they don’t know the answer.
So what is my advice (oh, the irony)
Pick one of each you trust? Mentor/Coach/Colleague/Family member/Friend. It’s not that I know everything already I need all the wisdom and knowledge I can get I don’t need knowledge obesity which can lead to decision making paralysis. Too much information leaves us unable to process anything, and instead, we become overwhelmed.
So I choose my sources with caution and keep my personal and professional circles small. It made my career change eventually a lot easier and decision making entirely aligned with who I am and my vision for my business.
11. THE PANDEMIC IS A REMINDER, WE ALWAYS NEED TO BE READY TO CHANGE CAREER
“The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion.”- Arnold H. Glasow
Most change comes from pain. When you’re not feeling pain, it’s hard to take action. And then you’re not ready for the worst thing that can happen. You can’t predict a global pandemic that can lead to excessive redundancies or a career crisis.
But you can predict how you will react if something happens. Many jobs now are one zoom or phone call away from becoming obsolete. I suggest you begin working on a career disaster recovery plan or plan B right away even if you think your job is stable at present.
When you’re ready with a career crisis plan, you’re least likely to need one. When you feel willing, ready and able to take on the unexpected, you will feel in control. You’ve gained the power to progress with perspective. You will walk and talk differently. You won’t lose as much sleep over rumours about takeovers, new managers or world events.
“I’m standing in my power. I’m in control” will be your new mantra.
12. IT’S STRANGE WHEN SOMEONE ASKS YOU TO REFLECT UPON A DECISION YOU MADE WHICH ALTERED THE COURSE OF YOUR LIFE AND CAREER
“In general, things either work out or they don’t, and if they don’t, you figure out something else, a plan B. There’s nothing wrong with plan B.”
― Dick Van Dyke
Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability. I made a transparent career transition from broker to business owner via redundancy. The urge to return to my former profession was strong at the time, but I made a decision.
A decision that altered my life and career forever.
I burned that bridge and was open and honest with myself about what I wanted and needed in my career. I communicated my needs to myself and others in a way that helped me progress. I found people to hold me accountable. I then had to keep building and burning bridges and crossing them to get here now. There is very little I would change. I’m now so far over the bridge that builds the resilience to keep going in business; it would seem much longer to turn back than to keep going.
So keep building and burning bridges, keep going and keep growing.
Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge.
13. IF SOMEONE ASKS YOU WHAT YOU DO, TELL THEM YOU’RE “IT. “
“It” being whatever that is you are working on to create and become in time. A coach, writer, artist, designer, dog walker, whatever “it” is for you. I am a coach and a writer. I am becoming an artist and art therapist who will incorporate psychology into my career coaching practice. My “it” will not be career coaching as anyone knows it.
“It” will be non-traditional, extremely challenging creative and create change. I’m not worried about my level of success of my “it”. Nor should you. If you’re doing “it” regularly and working towards doing what you need to make “it” happen, you’re “it”.
You can’t become “it” overnight and you shouldn’t, but you can feel “it”. Creating and crafting the skills and stories is all the success you get at first, so you might as well own “it.” Don’t worry about anyone else’s opinions. The truth is nobody will care about yours or what you are doing unless it aligns with their own. You’re “it” Enjoy and embrace the energy “it” gives you.
14. OUR LIVES AND CAREERS ARE A SERIES OF TRANSITIONAL SHIFTS
“To bring anything into your life, imagine that it’s already there.” Richard Bach
A transition no matter of what kind in our lives and work will begin with intention. Intention informs inspiration. A realigned successful transitional shift comes down to one fundamental thing a choice.
Choice in the present moment to create opportunity in the future focus.
Here are some questions to ask yourself about your intentions to create transitions in your life and career in your own time.
What is your intention?
What do you want to do with this information?
How does that inspire you?
Do you have a sincere interest in your intention and how it transitions into your realigned measure of success?
Once you choose to take ownership of your intention, you can create reinvention.
Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.
15. DO YOU FIND IT CHALLENGING TO FIND THE WORDS TO DESCRIBE THE EMOTIONS ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CAREER?
In the early days of my career change when I couldn’t find the words to describe my emotions about my former career and redundancy, I’d run emotional experiments.
Emotional wheels helped me to begin when I could not find the words. You can download one here via The Gottman Institute.
Some of the questions I’d then ask myself to surface my emotions were as follows:
Where am I right now in my life and work?
What do I feel?
What hurts the most?
How can I slow down to see what is missing?
Can I do it?
Will I do it?
What do I need to do it?
How will I do it differently in align with my whole self?
I was looking for data to measure whether I would enjoy the process of doing new these things to facilitate my career transition. Think of it this way. You are looking for some signal, some more information to keep you feeling your way to the answer. You are spinning the emotional wheel, so the wheels keep turning in your favour.
16. LIFE CAN BE BRUTAL AT TIMES
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
― Oscar Wilde
It takes things away at random. Then it makes you fight to get them back so that you remember and reaffirm the value of each one. I remind myself that losing my job in 2015, even though it sucked was the ultimate version of my career reinvention.
As I grow older, my transitions from one stage of my life to the next have become less hurried. Rather than full-on restarts, change now looks like layers. Layers that I add on in a slow and controlled manner and then peel away. This reality grounds me in the fact that anything worth having takes time but is possible.
It is also a reminder of what’s fragile and what’s robust. We, as humans are resilient if we reinforce our belief in ourselves. Each new week and month, I start repeatedly, and I peel away more layers to reveal something new and shed what no longer serves me anymore.
What layers do you need to add or shed to reveal a reinvention for you?
17. WHAT WOULD YOU ROLE HAVE TO HAVE FOR YOU TO FIND IT FULFILLING?
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. — Lao Tzu
Many people find it hard to create a clear vision of what a fulfilling career would be for them because they haven’t yet clarified their non-negotiable values.
Once you get clear about your values, you’ll know what a role will need to have for you to thrive and enjoy it. Your non-negotiable values help you identify your work boundaries and what you will and will not tolerate at work.
A role that is out of alignment with your values will never be fulfilling. There will always be a disconnect, and that disconnect can cause deeper voids in your whole self.
The disconnect is quite simply because your career is void of values.
And if you don’t fill them with what matters most, you could lose a piece of yourself as I did in my former career.
The good news is you have a choice as I did to jump into those voids and find out what is important to you and why that matters because of what it gives you.
What is most important to you?
18. INTERNAL BARRIERS TO CAREER SUCCESS
“Core values serve as a lighthouse when the fog of life seems to leave you wandering in circles; when you encounter that moment where every decision is a tough one and no choice seems to clearly be the better choice.”
― J Loren Norris
1. A when/ then outlook
When x happens then, I will be happy. I call that wishful thinking.
What if I can’t do this and am not good enough?
What will others think of me?
They have it better than me.
I have limited resources.
It will be too much pressure and responsibility.
I should have been better at x or done y.
You will often hear people speak about golden handcuffs. There is no such thing as golden handcuffs.
It is a figment of our imagination we create to validate our excuses to remain stuck. I turned everything into a handcuff to remain chained to a desk rusting away.
My employer did not keep me there.
I chose to stay there.
If we want to leave but have some of the internal barriers above, we will turn everything into a golden handcuff scenario to validate our decision to stay.
I used my health, age, kid, parents, all as golden handcuffs alongside the stability and security of a career I fell into by circumstance, not a choice.
My ingrained behaviours were the cause of me making them the reasons for my decision not to leave. I let my ignorance overrule my intuition.
I made myself a prisoner by choice.
They always say, we’ll just do another year. It’s called the golden handcuffs.
19. BRACE YOURSELF FOR CAREER CHAOS
In between personal and professional goals, there is a thing that you have to enjoy called life.
If you cannot find some satisfaction level between your life and career, you can be miserable, and regression and conflict will show up.
A healthy personal and professional life involves joy.
Build a lifestyle that includes a value-driven vision embracing why that balance is essential.
Not a goal or metric that means nothing but misery.
If there is no joy in some days, are you living the life you envision?
Are you inspired?
If you are not inspired, and killing yourself in the process to prove something to anyone other than yourself, you are missing out on what joy it is all about.
We are preparing to brace ourselves for the influx of new year, new you, new career, goal setting posts and book recommendations over the coming few weeks.
Sometimes it does nothing but antagonise people and initiates stealing their joy out of a fear of failure or inadequacy.
So brace yourself for life and career chaos.
But acknowledge that change can and will happen for you when you are ready.
And not because society or anyone else tells you that you have to start goal setting now or on January 1st 2021.
Do it when you are ready.
When you feel joy, do so, you will know.
“If you walk in joy, happiness is close behind.”
20. PEOPLE WHO ARE GOOD AT INTERVIEWS OR MAKING TRANSITIONS ARE USUALLY GOOD AT LIFE
― Todd Stocker
That is where we have to start.
Working on what having a good life means for us.
What does it give us, and why is it important?
Being good to ourselves is value-driven behaviour.
It starts with understanding why we deserve to live a good life and not deny it out of shame or excessive humility.
Then we can begin to understand how to bring the good forward in us in an interview setting.
How can you get to at a point in your life where you know what you are good at, and can communicate it to a total stranger in a way that makes you seem like the sort of person you would want around.
Get good at being good to yourself in your life and work without feeling guilt or shame.
Respect your whole self.
Respect your right to feel good.
The good life consists in deriving happiness by using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of living. The meaningful life adds one more component: using these same strengths to forward knowledge, power or goodness.
21. THE COURAGE TO BE HAPPY
I persistently decided not to change anything in my former career for years.
I justified that it was the “practical” option and therefore, much more comfortable to leave things as they were. I told myself I knew no better; therefore, I could be no better or do no better.
The thing is like all my clients; I didn’t lack competence I just lacked courage.
The courage to be happy.
The word “happy” derives from the verb to happen.
In other words, we can’t control everything that happens in our lives.
But happiness itself is to be found simply from observing what happens.
So if we don’t dare to be happy, we will never know what can happen.
If one cannot be happy at the prospect of stepping outside of their usual “practical” self to make a significant change for their better self, they are not likely to find happiness anywhere. If you are brave enough to explore this, what happens is happiness or learning.
Do you have the courage to be happy and see what happens?
How did I start?
I stopped looking for excuses not to change and started looking for opportunities to grow.
Because when we grow, we open ourselves up to a whole new level of wholeness and discovery.
One that enables us to explore if we should pursue something different or not.
Many of our fears are tissue paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us through them. Brendan Francis
May this article bring you the second chance to realign and define who you are and what you want in your life and career when you are ready be that 2021 or 2025.
Originally published on www.paulineharley.com on 18/01/2021.