Career change survival guide
A couple of weeks ago we had a long weekend here in Ontario with Family Day falling on Monday. My husband, Justin, and I took it as an opportunity for a quick weekend getaway, heading up to cottage country to spend some time in winter wonderland!
During our weekend we did two grueling snow shoe hikes in snow that went up to our thighs (thank goodness for those snow shoes!) going up and down “mountains” for some spectacular views. At the top of one of climbs Justin turned back to me and said ‘you should write about this, about overcoming obstacles’. And from that point on, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels of our journey in the woods to the journey to a career change.
During our hikes, there were many times when it just seemed so easy and so much fun. I was on top of the world, taking in the beautiful scenery, enjoying the time with Justin and feeling like nothing was going to stop me, that I “got this”. And then that would change. Maybe it was a steep hill to climb up or down, or just fatigue setting in. But no matter what it came. The hard times. When it was harder to move forward.
That’s life though isn’t it? A series of highs and lows. So why wouldn’t be a career change be the same thing? I know that isn’t something we want to hear and sometimes the message out there is that a career change is so easy, just sell your transferable skills and of course it will happen for you!
But it doesn’t work like that. It takes a lot of hard work. A LOT. Which means that you need to be persistent. It also means that you will need to be resilient because you will face more rejection than a normal job search.
And it isn’t like a hike. Where you are descending a steep hill only to fall. Or even a normal job search where nothing seems to be going right. But when you are hiking or in a normal job search you can’t give up, it isn’t an option. You have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off again and keep at it.
But a career change is different. Chances are you are in a job right now. You may hate your job but you are in one nonetheless, so quitting is an option.
Which is why it is so common to give up. I know because I gave up. I’m coming up on 10 years from being laid off from my first job, the job that when I left I said I was going to go into career coaching. But didn’t. Because it was too hard. When I did get my first job in career coaching I left to go back to recruiting. Because that opportunity wasn’t right for me. But instead of finding one that worked, I gave up. And it took 4 more years before I finally said enough was enough. Before I realized how to make this career dream work for me. Before I committed and went all in. All in on the highs. All in on the lows.
What was different this time, is that I prepared myself for the lows. So that when I failed or was facing something that seemed impossible, I had a survival guide to help me through it.
In my survival guide, I focused on some key areas that I knew had tripped me up in the past or had a feeling could trip me up in the future. Today, I want to share this guide with you so that you are equipped to survive the lows of the career change journey, so that you won’t give up on your dreams.
SURVIVAL TIP ONE: GAIN CLARITY
One of the things that held me back in the past was that I just wasn’t positive what I wanted, career coaching had always been an interest but was it the one? At one point in my career change (about 6 years ago), I had a list of 20 career options! So it was so hard to commit to a career change when I wasn’t too sure what that career change was exactly. But once I went through some self-reflection work I finally gained that clarity allowing me to finally commit to it.
SURVIVAL TIP TWO: FIND MY MOTIVATION
I knew that there would be times when my motivation just wasn’t there. Where I struggled to show up. So I would refer back to my goals – why I was doing this. I would visit my Pinterest page for motivation and inspiration. I would cut myself some slack, if I needed a day to take care of me than I would take that day!
SURVIVAL TIP THREE: BUILD SUPPORT
I tend to be a lone wolf. I like to do things myself and then say “voila” and present it to the world, I don’t tend to invite people in while I’m trying to accomplish something. I knew that had been a problem in the past so I was determined to not be like that this time. It started small, just letting my husband in on the idea and then slowly telling family, friends and then putting it out there on a more public scale. This was SO HARD for me, but it helped me with accountability.
I also built a support system around me with a Business Coach and mentors (other career coaches) so that I could learn all the ins and outs of starting this business and how to be the best career coach. When I had a question I knew I could count on them to help me out.
SURVIVAL TIP FOUR: PREPARE FOR FEAR
I knew that fear was inevitable. In the past fear would tell me I wasn’t good enough, or had me doubting my abilities or terrify me about the prospect of failure. And I would listen and quit. But not this time. I prepared myself to acknowledge fear but also to ignore it!
SURVIVAL TIP FIVE: CARVE OUT TIME
Time was definitely a factor. Now my career change wasn’t completely typical since I started my own business but I didn’t quit my job and launch into it. No, I had to juggle the starting my new business with my recruitment job. And I was still concerned about the same things in my Job Search Roadmap, marketing, networking, selling myself. So I had to be creative with my time management. There were many early mornings or late nights, and busy lunch breaks. And while I was committed, I was also forgiving of myself for those weeks or months (I didn’t write a single article in November or December of 2017!) when I just didn’t have as much time as I wanted to devote to the job search.
A career change is more than possible. When you are ready to put in the work and to commit to getting through those lows then it isn’t a matter of if but a matter of when.
If you are going through a change and want to add to your support system, reach out and schedule a Discover Your Career Strategy call. I look forward to helping you survive the lows of the career change journey.
Sara Curto helps people find a career they love by teaching them a new way to job search.
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