“I am just a big, huge ball of ‘I don’t know what to do’.” This is how a client perfectly articulated how many of us feel when we’re trapped between the excitement of considering a new job and the paralysis of overthinking every single risk.
One of the most common questions I hear as a coach is, “Should I change careers?” To help find clarity, I’d first seek out what’s holding you back. Is it the fear of not being successful in the new job or worrying that your current career success was a fluke and not replicable? Or, are you trying to escape a poor environment, but nervous that the new company isn’t any better? If the new role is a level up, are you hesitating because of self-doubt and fear of failure?
After making several career changes, I can attest that at some point, all of the above were deeply true for me, too. Here are three unique ways to bring clarity to your next best career step.
Check in with your body.
When you’re talking to the recruiter, at the job site, interacting with people from the new company, reading the job requirements, notice how your body responds. Does it get that “scare-cited” feeling – a bit scared but mostly excited? Or, do you feel tense and shut down? Contrast that to the energy and feelings do you get at your current workplace.
Someone I worked with took a job that looked ideal on paper, although intuitively they felt hesitant. In the weeks before they started the job, they would get indigestion every time they thought about the job, so bad in fact, that it required a doctor’s visit. This person chalked it up to stress and nervousness. What’s not surprising today is this individual now knows that they should have been listening to their body telling them this was not the right choice because they’re searching for a new opportunity. Don’t ignore your body. It may be wiser than your mind.
Define Your Ideal Work Day
Beginning from the minute you wake up, imagine the following: What’s your commute like? When you get to work, what sort of activities are you doing? How many meetings are you sitting in? What types of conversations are you having? What kinds of decisions are you making? Who are you interacting with and what are you talking about? Are you managing a team? What sort of projects are you involved in and at what level of decision making? Describe the environment and amenities.
When you get clear about exactly how you want to using your time and talents and what brings you alive, you can ask very clear questions of the recruiter to make sure that you’re taking the job for the reality of what it is and not the story that you’re believing about the job.
Above all else, have the courage to pass on opportunities you’re tempted to pursue because of perks of status, title, or money. A great question to ask, “When the emotional high of the promotion, raise, or status fades, will I be left with work I love?”
Ask For What Your Worth
After you detail your career ideal day, you may (surprise!) discover you already have most of what you want in your current role. Some clients have an “A-ha” moment when they realize they have much of what they want, and they simply need to create or ask for what’s missing. Ask for a raise. Document your successes and ask for the project promotion or alternate work schedule. You CAN fall in love with your job all over again if you’re willing to advocate for yourself.
If you determine that a new career is right for you, be clear to recruiters or hiring managers about what you’re looking for. Being honest and intentional is the best way to ensure that the hiring decision is beneficial for everyone involved.
Switching careers may feel too big for you right now, set a goal for yourself starting with a target date that you could see yourself doing something different. Baby step that backward that allows you to focus on a small step you can take every week.
And above all else, taking the time to know yourself is richer than knowing your next step.
Knowing yourself > knowing your next step.Kelli Thompson