It’s a familiar feeling… Monday morning… One day, one day I’ll make a career change for the better. For most of course, that day never comes unless you look for some executive career advice.
It has been a historic challenge for many people to know how to change their career.
Most career coaching clients that we work with are looking to move to a similar (or better!) executive role, similar sector, and are just not gaining traction; i.e. they are not getting enough job interviews, or not getting across the finishing line at interview. For any circumstance, executive career coaching or outplacement is the right choice for you.
Sometimes though you might feel like you’ve had enough of the executive rat race, and want a complete change of career. This is entirely possible but requires planning, commitment, investment in time and in yourself, and sometimes the necessary bank balance in order to bridge the gap from one well paid career to perhaps a much lower paid one.
Exploration is a key first step, and cannot be overlooked or rushed. There may be ‘options within options’ to be discussed and filtered. Imagine that you had the desire to leave your corporate role and work with animals in some way (don’t laugh, it happens!), but that was all you knew?
Where do you start?
How do you know that you really want to pursue that particular career option?
Have you mapped out all the implications; personal, financial, time to make the transition?
Let’s run with the corporate role to working with animals example above; there’s a big difference between donating £10 a month to an animal charity and relocating your life to a remote island to care for and monitor an endangered species.
|Charity Donation||*||*||*||*||*||*||Relocate to Island|
Note the above continuum with the charity donation idea to the extreme left, and the relocation idea to the extreme right. With me so far?
There will be many options in between that (indicated as *), and the trick to making a satisfactory career change is to choose the option that is right for you, and fully explore each idea. Therefore, there could be half a dozen or more career change options along that continuum.
If you have two or three potential career change ideas, then you need this plan of attack for each one. I have described the importance of exploration in the career change process in around 400 words up to this point, but in reality this process could take many weeks to plan everything properly.
Can you begin to see how planning a career change is a serious piece of change management, and is one of the most important life changing steps you might take, ever.
Whenever we have delivered 1:1 career change programs, the exploration side has taken up the vast majority of sessions by far. If I am over emphasising the need for exploration, I make no apology for this.
Most executives that we work with nowadays as career coaching clients, would find it a challenge to take this approach, requiring as it does reflective skills, patience, and the realisation that the journey to that final career change choice, whatever it might be, could involve some deep soul searching and discomfort along the way.
We know we have changed lives for many people, but I’d say the very best results come with people who are open minded, and fully engage in the process.
I’ll touch on one or two further areas in a bit more detail; being a pragmatist, I realise that leaving a six figure career behind for something that might pay much less requires planning.
This is where you can do some ‘bridge the gap’ planning; taking savings, potential income (yourself and any supporting partner) what you need to do is create a clear financial plan about how you will conduct that career change over a period of months (one client decided that they needed/wanted to create a £50k savings buffer, as spending money to get through a 12-month period of transition).
Try it on for size; if your career change idea is based on something you haven’t spent much time doing, then make sure you take opportunities to get stuck in.
Take a long holiday, sabbatical, whatever you want to call it, in order to immerse yourself as far as possible in your potential new career, which avoids you having to make any further commitment if you establish in the end that your career change idea wasn’t such a good idea after all.
At the very least I hope you will spend time talking to as many people as possible who are currently working in your aspirational career.
Here are some other ‘food for thought ideas’ to get you started towards a career change:
- What are your top five values? List them, explain them, then prioritise them 1-5
- Write a ‘mission statement’ about why you want to undertake this career change, and keep it with you
- What will your life look like after you have achieved the change? Write your aspirations down and keep it with you. Some people prefer to clip pictures or images which inspire them
If after reading this article, you’re determined to explore a career change, but you think you might need some support in getting started, we can help you to reach your goals. It costs nothing to have an exploratory chat, but we do ask that you’re at the very least open to the idea of working with us. If you have any questions feel free to ask or leave a comment below.