My mentor suggested that I write a post about the things I wish I had known earlier about career transition. I liked the idea and, based on my personal journey as well as my experience as a coach, I started with a half dozen points aimed at helping professionals get on the fast lane. I ended up with twice as many points, and the kind of long article I, myself, have a hard time digesting. Hence the decision to stick to 10 essential points, dispatched in 2 posts. This is Part I, I hope you enjoy the read. Part II is available here.
10 Things I Wish I Had Known Earlier About Career Transitioning.
1. You are not alone
Studies show that an increasing number of experienced professionals are undertaking a career change, and even more are considering it. Three-fifths of UK workers (60%) intend to make changes to their careers as a result of the Covid outbreak, an increase of seven percentage points since July 2020 (53%).*
So why does it feel weird and lonely? It is because nothing prepared you to handle one or several career changes in your life. Society tends to assign you a role, tied to a life cycle: In your junior years, you prove your competence. As you are getting experienced, you excel in your field. And then, what? You retire. While there is nothing wrong with linear career paths, it does not work for everyone. Probably not for you, if you are reading these lines.
2. Your skills are transferable – All of them
My clients who crave a new career are taken aback by the thought that their expertise might be lost when they change jobs. It is natural to take pride in those skills you have mastered over time. The good news is, you take everything with you on the journey. Those skills will manifest in creative ways, coming in handy to serve your goals while you are expanding in your new project. Interestingly, ancient or dormant skills will show up and prove valuable to handle new situations. Your brain creates new circuits while tapping into resources you did not remember you had. And this is particularly refreshing.
3. It is OK to be lost in transition
Describing career transitions as uncomfortable is an understatement. More accurately: Everything which made you feel grounded in social status is gone. Welcome to unchartered territories, where nobody is waiting for you with your name on a sign. No driver, no limousine. It requires courage to leave the familiar in order to become a new version of yourself. Uncomfortable, scared, and excited all together, highs and lows are in order. But, as Maya Angelou said: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” The butterfly is you.
4. Money and time are no excuses
“I will do a job I really love when I have enough time, or money” (or both).
Does that sound familiar? Of course, these two factors are critical components of a decision, and critical metrics to monitor all along the way. Controlling your time and financial resources through a career transition will be essential to succeed. Be aware that the conservative, risk-averse part of you will always show up with these massive excuses that are the lack of (or the fear of lack of) time and or money. Or both. It is your call to let these fears be the master of you.
5. Nature is in constant change and so are you
“Nothing is absolute, everything changes, everything moves, everything evolves, everything flies and goes away”.
These lines written by the fascinating artist Frida Kahlo can be interpreted as words of regret and melancholy. Or, from another perspective, as the constant evolution of all things that allow rebirth, re-invention, possibilities, relief, reboot, rejuvenation, and creation. When looking back at your career, you may take pride in what you have achieved, and, simultaneously, realize that this pattern is no longer fulfilling you. You can cherish your past achievements and look forward to what you are going to do next. This is not a lack of consistency in your choices. It is about the inherent nature of all of us, to thrive in movement or shrink in stagnation.
*Aviva “How do we live” Report, 2021