How often have we all heard these words….Make a fresh start. It is a sentence often used without much consideration to its true meaning. Do we even realise the momentous meaning of these very big words. A fresh start is a Herculean effort which often takes every ounce of self-control and confidence we have. A fresh start usually feels more wrong than right at the beginning and our reality and instincts clash on a daily basis.
So let’s say you’ve taken a good hard look at your career and decided it isn’t for you. To make matters worse, you are doing extremely well. This realised itself in my life when I moved on from my Banking career. I had taken great pains to prepare for a lifetime of success in Banking and in less than 10 years, on the day I was promoted, I was over it. The desire to be a writer grew every day until it was much bigger than my own self. It was like a big shadow that followed me everywhere and to every triumph of mine it whispered “But this is not who you are”. If you are about to diagnose imposter syndrome, don’t worry I’ve done it myself and it even followed me to my writing career. However, I am a much more satisfied imposter now.
How does one make a success of a new start then…….
Accept what is
This may seem obvious but isn’t so much for your brain. When you have trained your brain to care for a certain career, to seek lessons to help you advance along it and centre your personal care to those needs, to find that that routine need no longer exist, can throw your mind into a state of confusion. The first thing to do in this case is to take a few days to acknowledge to yourself that you are moving on. If this is the stage at which you are trying to decide about moving on, then you need at least 2-3 weeks of rest and contemplation. “Go back to the drawing board” as they say and journal on a daily basis about the pros and cons of where you are, the pros and cons of the new career you are trying to consider and consider how strong the desire to make the move is. It is perfectly normal to feel like you do not know what you are doing but as long as you take the time to accept every step in your new life, you will be ok.
Don’t Plan it All
This is contrary to what most career advice centres around but in my experience over-planning is a sign of an anxious mind. Planning projects at work is very different from life. One can plan some contingency in projects and ensure that the team sticks to it. Real life needs space for some planning, re-planning, bouts of inspiration and new ideas. Whilst in the throes of a change of career, it is best not to be too committed to a new idea. A new idea needs time and space to breathe and grow and setting things in stone will stunt creativity. This is the stage at which you need all the creative power you can muster so let go of the reigns a little. Make a rough list of things you need to look into and take each point one day at a time. Allow the idea to grow and evolve.
Wait Before Allowing Disappointment
Even after you have taken the time to allow your mind and habits to catch up with your new career, one part of you will be on a constant lookout for signs that you did not make the right decision. The best thing to do whilst embarking on a new career is to spare yourself the questioning. Leave that for later. For now, take a few months or even a year to just allow your new life to develop. Your first career did not happen overnight and your new one will require just as much time and effort to mature. Often when we embark on a change of career we are as riddled with doubts as those around us and the combination does not make for an easy change. Change of careers often come in our 30s and 40s and we have been conditioned to think that they are a bad idea. However, there is no questioning our own instinct. Once you have decided to embark on a new career with conviction, stick with it. Become a toxic optimist for a while if you have to but do not allow disappointment and doubts to creep in until you have given your new career a fair chance.
Be Careful Who You Surround Yourself With
Who you surround yourself with determines the quality of your life, chances of success and your happiness quotient. If this sounds like an exaggeration, believe me it is not. At the best of times it matters who has your ear, so periods of big changes most definitely require that we surround ourselves with only the best. The right friends will always encourage you, root for your success and have confidence in your ability. This does not mean that they will not tell you that you may be making a questionable decision, this only means that they will have enough confidence in your ability as an adult to steer your life. The right friends will ask questions when they think you may be going off-course and when some decision of yours may bother them they will say just that. A friend who respects you will not make sweeping declarations about your decisions and project their fears on you. Pick your company wisely.
Celebrate the little wins
A career change is a massive change in your life, sometimes even bigger than personal life changes. This is because we expect our personal life to evolve but we only ever expect our professional lives to move vertically. We hardly ever expect it to move sideways and then yo-yo between up and down before settling. However, a career reality for most people is a wiggly pattern rather than a linear one. Embrace that and recognise that in a period when everything feels uncertain every small win should be celebrated. Recognise that you have shown immense courage in embracing what feels right for you rather than what feels safe. That decision alone bears celebrating. Add to that small steps taken in the right direction, and you have the perfect occasion to celebrate your new life.
In conclusion, a new career is an extremely brave move and reserved only for the most confident amongst us. Do not let anyone or anything keep you from exploring your full potential. Whether you embrace the advice above or not, you should just know that by doing something most people don’t do you have achieved new heights in courage.
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