Photo by Michal Parzuchowski
Through my own two major career changes, and after coaching many people through successful job and career change, I’ve found six useful strategies for navigating this challenging life passage with self-compassion and patience. Both of these support a successful outcome.
I will cover the first 3 of these strategies in this post, and the last 3 in next month’s post.
First of all, know up front that few people feel skilled at figuring out a career or job change. Most people find the task daunting. If you are someone who is used to feeling on top of your game, be willing to be out of your comfort zone on this one – chances are, this is not your game. And if you are usually a not-too-confident person, know that in this context, you are not alone in feeling unsure of yourself.
These are the first three strategies:
- Know this: IT’S NOT A LINEAR PROCESS.
- Network, Network, Network!
- Be Generous With Self-Acknowledgement and Self-Care.
Now let’s look at each of these in more detail.
- Know this: IT’S NOT A LINEAR PROCESS!
You will experience less frustration and waste less time if you accept this and don’t expect your left-brain (your analytic, linear, spreadsheet mind) to figure out the whole thing in advance. You can’t just think your way to a solution. Allow for surprises, serendipitous connections, and intuitive hits. Learn to tolerate the state of not-knowing.
Be very clear on your intention, stay in action, and listen to the feedback. By “listen to the feedback,” I mean observe your results. Notice what’s working and what isn’t. Keep doing what’s working. Stop doing what’s not working — but get some help with it. Try to figure out WHY it’s not working, and fix it if it’s fixable. Some things are not fixable — let them go. And continue with the activities that produce some movement.
Did you ever play the board game Clue? Remember the secret passage from the Kitchen to the Ballroom? In a career process, you never know when or where you’ll find a secret passage!
- Network, Network, Network!
Let everyone know what you are up to, and let them know how they can help you. I mean everyone. Not just your closest friends and your siblings, everyone! That means the people you run into, your neighbors, your hairdresser, your colleagues, your doctor, dentist, accountant, attorney, the folks who service your car, and so forth.
Have you ever been able to be helpful to someone who wanted to make a connection of some sort? Have you, for example, ever been able to give someone the name of a great house painter (electrician, accountant, chiropractor) when they asked? It’s an easy and delightful thing to do for another person. Let the people in your life have that opportunity with you. Let them know how they can help you. Is there a company or an industry you wish you knew somebody in so you could talk to them? Ask around.
During my own career exploration that eventually led me to coaching, there was a point at which I wanted to deliver some corporate training on issues pertaining to personal and organizational change. Although I knocked directly on corporate doors, my breakthrough opportunity came from a student in one of the music classes I was teaching at the time. She asked me to do training for her multiple staffs on “Managing Change.” She knew of my interest because I had told the class what I was up to.
Of course, if your exploration needs to be confidential, you’ll need to be discrete in the way that you do it. Do your networking quietly, but do your networking.
- Be Generous With Self-Acknowledgement and Self-Care
Two kinds of self-acknowledgement are required during a career or job change process.
First, you must regularly acknowledge yourself for the hard work you are doing. There’s a 4-part cycle that your work is part of:
1. Set a goal.
2. Do the work.
3. Meet the goal.
4. Acknowledge and celebrate. This fourth part is equivalent to a paycheck and a boss saying to you, “Good job. I appreciate the work you’re doing!” Your self-acknowledgement can be simple and sweet. Keep it private — from you to you.
The second kind of self-acknowledgement involves getting very clear on as many of your skills and gifts as you can and taking full ownership of them. You really need to be in full command of what it is you have to offer “out there” in the marketplace. Many people have a hard time owning and claiming their expertise, but it’s essential that you know who you are and what you have to offer – not inflated, not deflated, but accurate.
In addition, extreme self-care is called for, above and beyond the usual level. Career change and job search are hard work, which can be very depleting. You need to keep yourself nourished. Do more of the things that fuel you. Be sure that there are no places where energy is leaking – you need all your energy for this work.
In summary, job and career changes are challenging life events. Take very good care of yourself during this process – don’t take yourself for granted. Let others contribute to your quest in a variety of ways. And whenever possible, enjoy the sheer adventure of it.
If you’re considering hiring a coach to help you with challenges like these, contact me for an initial consultation at no charge.
In next month’s blog post, I’ll discuss the last three of the six strategies.