I don’t know about you, but for many years I thought that was an elusive or unattainable goal.
It really felt like this is the path – you go to school, pick a career, and then that’s it. That’s the box you’re in and only the incredibly lucky, well-connected, or brilliantly persistent could ever change that.
In the ’90s there were lots of books being written on career change, and I was miserable in my poorly chosen field of retail management (more on how I fell into that hole in another article). I was DYING to figure a way out, but I already felt trapped in my 20s.
It didn’t help that I already had a difficult marriage, a baby, and bills coming out of my ears. Also, remote work was not a thing, and I was tied to a geographic location where there were few opportunities.
But boy did I read all the books anyway! I was determined to figure it out, and I did. It just took a really long time, a move, and then a divorce. A master’s degree, many years of single motherhood, some risky career choices, a new marriage, and finally, quitting the corporate world to start a business.
My story is long, and I promise I will share it in pieces because even though I am not a great example, I am a phenomenal cautionary tale.
However, here is the good news for you – NOW – at this time.
The world of work has been turned upside down, shaken up like me dancing to 80’s hair bands, thrown around like my dog’s chew toy, and spit out like a fire-hot chicken wing.
How is this good?
Well, you want career change, right?
And the container you are attempting to execute that plan in has changed.
Remote work, a renewed commitment to DEI and mental health, a rejection of toxic bosses and culture, and people quitting jobs like dogs seeing squirrels – frantically, frequently, and freely.
Add to that mix a candidate’s market where employers are fighting hard to attract, secure, and retain the best talent, and you are suddenly one powerful career-changing chick!
So, on a practical note what can you do to take full advantage of this time to shine and write your own ticket to your ideal work?
1) Don’t be afraid to name what you really want – identify your passions and do not decide something will not work before you create and work the plan – remember the rules are out the window in this exercise!
2) NETWORK LIKE A MADWOMAN! People on LinkedIn and other online spaces are much more amenable to conversations with strangers than they ever have been – the Covid pandemic and remote work have caused many people to seek connection – use that very real need in our society to expand your world and learn more about what others do and get inspired!
3) Unless your current company makes you want to run out of the building like your hair is on fire, explore internal career change – what skills do you have that you can further develop to move into another area of work in your org and fill a real business need?
4) Do you need more education or certifications? Maybe…but maybe not. I am a HUGE fan of education, but it isn’t always needed to make a change and can be used as an excuse to stay stuck.
5) Do some volunteer/pro bono work in the new area you think you’d like to explore. It’s a no-stress way of learning more and making connections – also in 2022 many companies consider volunteer work as valuable experience – another workplace mindset shift.
6) Keep your circle positive – don’t tell people about your plans and goals if you know they won’t support you, or they are likely to project their own fears and limiting beliefs onto you. You don’t need anyone’s toxic energy in your shiny new career space.
7) Read the books! The classics from the ’90s were written by Barbara Sher, Marsha Sinetar, and Richard Bolles. Plus, the modern classics on change and personal development written by thought leaders like Brene Brown, Marie Forleo, Sheryl Sandberg, Bill Burnett, and Jenny Blake.
8) And finally, consider working with a professional. A career coach can help you to maximize this exciting time and provide the guidance, clarity, and ongoing support you need to make the change, and love your new work!