I know you’ve been there too. It feels like pushing a giant boulder up a hill. You keep pushing even though you feel burdened and trapped. You can’t see any option but to keep going. If you stop you’ll just get flattened by that damned boulder. You can’t even complain because you have no one to blame but yourself.
After months, even years of this, you wake up and see clearly for the first time, that freedom is just one decision away. It’s been there all along. You couldn’t see it before because you were too busy doing what you felt you should, ought, must do.
Like those times when you:
Let someone else dictate your schedule or agenda without question or pushback.
Stopped yourself from pressing publish or send because you were too afraid of what your peers and colleagues might think.
Followed someone else’s advice because you didn’t trust yourself enough to forge your own path.
We humans are hardwired to please and I believe unfailingly in generosity, collaboration and taking the opinions of others on board, but there’s something I’ve learned the deep dark hard way.
If you don’t honour your desires, then you’re in no position to serve others.
To be really useful, you must give from a full cup.
I’m not talking about getting enough rest or ‘me’ time, although that’s important too. I’m talking about saying yes to the projects that are calling out to you, honouring the commitments you make to yourself (yes including a new career), and most of all, allowing more joy into your tightly scheduled work life.
The rewards for following the call of your heart are great even when decisions feel tough in the moment.
Because no one ever achieved their dreams by pleasing others or avoiding letting them down at all costs.
The good news is you won’t be doing any of this alone.
When you honour your desires you get to co-create with the universe, God, spirit, source – whatever name resonates – in all that you do.
This amazing power source is always available to you.
The question is: are you going to work with it, or keep pushing it away like that annoying boulder?
You may already know this if you’ve read my story, but I had many jobs before becoming a career coach, including journalist, copywriter and executive assistant to name a few. I once lasted two long hours in an outbound call centre. There were jobs that I enjoyed, and many that I put up with purely for the dollars. Looking back now I believe I learned important lessons from every single one of those experiences. That said, there are few things more depleting to body and soul than showing up for a job you hate every day.
Quitting your job may not be an option when you have nothing lined up. You have a mortgage to pay and small humans to feed. Besides, how are you going to explain the gap on your resume?
While it’s true that you have to be practical about your financial situation, you don’t have to let fear paralyse you into staying where you are. There’s a danger in staying put when you are miserable, especially if you’re not feeling valued at your company. It’s important to build your confidence at this point rather than see it slip away day by day.
Based on my experiences and those of my clients, I’ve discovered a number of ways you can transition into another career without staying stuck in a soul-sucking job. Here are a few that might help:
1) Take a career break
Taking a career break doesn’t have to mean going without income. Depending on your financial commitments you could get yourself an easy 9 to 5 gig to get you through the transition, whether it’s working in office support or at the local gym. You don’t have to put this on your resume because career breaks are acceptable and being in transition with your career is as good a reason as any to take one. Choose a low-stress job that doesn’t require the long hours you’re putting in right now, and you will have more time and energy to focus on what’s important. You can also use this time to study, volunteer and develop new skills, build your network and find a coach or mentor to help you create your future plan.
2) Move sideways
It’s a fact that women tend to underestimate our skills and abilities which means you might not realise how possible a sideways move is for you. Moving sideways into a new career means finding that sweet spot where your current skills meet your future career goals. To figure this out you’ll need to do an audit of your skills and brainstorm ways they could be applied in a meaningful way to make progress towards your goal.
For example, when I moved into career development I leveraged my existing communications background to get work as a resume writer. You will probably discover that you have more options than you think. Brainstorm ideas with a friend or colleague and write a list. Remember it doesn’t have to be the perfect fit, but it does need to be a step in the right direction and something you will enjoy doing while you learn the ropes in your chosen industry.
3) Work on your passion project
Super keen to open a café but stuck in a corporate career? Why not host a gourmet event for friends and family in your backyard and get them to try your menu. Or a pop-up café at your local community centre. Not only will you gain valuable feedback on your ideas, you will feel more motivated to continue doing the work you love. When you work on a project you enjoy it will energise every area of our life. Suddenly your Monday to Friday job doesn’t seem so gruelling because you’re making progress on your escape strategy.
4) Ask for what you want
Depending on your employer, you might be able to negotiate your hours and create space to work on your desired career change. Is it possible to work from home one day a week? Or switch to a 9 day fortnight and salary sacrifice? Think of all the things you could do to give yourself some space. Sometimes we don’t realise what is available for us because we don’t ask for what we want. We have conversations in our heads with our managers without telling them (I’ve done this too), and imagine that we will get a no. Keep an open mind and go talk to your boss.
5) Dial up your networking
I know I sound like a broken record on this, but opportunities to have what you want are all around you. I have found this to be so true in my own career. We just need to open our eyes to what’s out there. Who do you know who can give you advice on your new industry or profession?
Can you find a mentor through one of the many mentoring groups online? Or join a professional association to access their programs and attend events. If you don’t have time to attend events, start networking within your current organisation. A lot of people miss out on networking at work by eating at their desks. Go for lunch with your colleagues.
Ask people for advice on your skills and how they could be valuable in your new career. Take ideas on board and evaluate them to see which options might work for you. Your network is your most valuable source of advice and support as well as opportunities.
Finally, here’s a bonus tip. Stop working so hard in your current role. Yes you heard me right! You know you want to leave this job so try and let go of the reins a little, especially if you have a tendency to be a perfectionist. Don’t exhaust yourself because It will only make everything you need to do seem even harder.
I hope this has given you some ideas if you feel like you have no way out of your current job. Let me know in the comments if this resonated.
Are you having trouble transitioning into a new career? Not sure which career might be right for you? You can book a Discovery Call with me to chat through your options. Go here to book an appointment.
This post was first published on the Firebrand Talent blog.
When I was 17, I decided I wanted to work in the travel industry. It was my final year at school and I had no clue what I wanted to do, but jetting off somewhere exotic sounded like a cool way to live while I figured it out.
Unfortunately my last year in school coincided with the worst recession in Irish history. Determined to find a job in spite of this, I went with the only strategy I knew at the time, a mass mail out. I wrote letters to every travel agent in the phone book (this was pre-internet so I’m talking over 100 handwritten letters!). While I got plenty of nice letters back, sadly for me, there were no job offers.
It’s frustrating when you put a lot of effort into getting a job or progressing your career only to get rejected, or worse still ignored altogether.
Often though, as I have discovered, it means you weren’t necessarily giving yourself the best shot in the first place.
If I had tried a different approach back then, like offering to help out at my local travel agents, I might have fulfilled my travel plans.
HERE ARE 3 WAYS TO CREATE MORE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES REGARDLESS OF YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES:
1. Make a list of your barriers
If you’ve been trying to make changes with your career, what is standing in your way? Is it your lack of experience? An unsupportive boss? There might be some less obvious ones too.
Maybe you want to work in a more dynamic environment but you hold yourself back in case you don’t meet the high performance standards, for example.
Write a list of everything you perceive as a barrier, whether you’re dealing with difficult work colleagues or a highly competitive environment.
When you’ve written your list it’s time to get honest with yourself.
How many of these things are really an issue?
My point is that sometimes we get stuck blaming others, or ourselves, instead of focusing on what we can actually do to help our situation.
So suspend your disbelief for a moment and pretend none of those barriers exist.
Write a list of the actions you would take if you had no impediments. Take action on three of them right away and diarise three more for tomorrow. Fast action gets fast results.
2. Ask better questions
Have you ever noticed that when things aren’t going your way, you tend to ask yourself really negative questions?
Why am I always screwing up? Why can’t I do better at interviews?
The trouble with negative questions is that they contain assumptions and those assumptions are usually not even close to the truth.
The other problem is that when you ask yourself a negative question, your brain goes looking for answers to support that assumption, which doesn’t help your confidence.
In his book, The Power of Asking Questions: The Book of Afformations, Noah St John says that when you ask better questions, your mind automatically begins to focus on what you have instead of what you lack.
So instead of asking: Why can’t I get a job? Or: Why is there never enough money in my bank account?
Turn those questions into positives like:
Why am I so good at my job? Or: Why am I so awesome with money?
Your brain will search for a positive answer. When you change your subconscious assumptions about your career, you will change your results.
St John argues that when you switch your focus in this way, you will naturally see opportunities for yourself where you previously only saw barriers.
3. Face your fears
For years I dreaded public speaking. If I had to introduce myself, even to small groups, my heart would pound, my hands would shake and I would rush through my speech just to get the discomfort over with as quickly as possible.
When I started running workshops and training events, I knew this approach wasn’t going to help! So I made a decision that I would face my fear and look for opportunities to present to groups. As soon as I did that, invitations to present and speak started pouring in. I don’t believe this was a coincidence! I won’t pretend I know how it works, but when you make a commitment like this, you will start seeing opportunities to make it happen. Often they just land in your lap without you having to do much at all.
In my experience, facing your fears is one of the fastest ways to create more opportunities in your life, so think about where your fear might be holding you back.
Remember if you have a fear of public speaking like me, you don’t have to go all out and speak in front of big crowds right away. Take baby steps, start with small events and work your way up.
What do you do to create more career opportunities in your career? Please share in the comments below.
For years, I drew courage from the question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” I even own the paperweight. When I was getting ready to speak at TED this year, I pushed that question out of my head to make room for a new question: “What’s worth doing even if you fail?” ~ Brene Brown
I lay awake staring at the ceiling as anxiety sat like a weight on my chest.
I’d just started a new career, money was tight and doubt was having a field day inside my brain as it often does in the wee hours.
Suddenly I sat up and made a vow to myself that I would pursue my goal no matter what. It was a balls to the wall, no going back kind of moment, my way of putting all those niggling doubts to rest for good.
When you go through any kind of career transition, success is not a given. There will be days when you will feel unstoppable and others when you feel like a complete amateur. The same is true of anything you do in life (I am thinking of parenting as I write this).
So there’s little point in asking: What if this doesn’t work out? You might as well give up right now.
A better question to ask is: Are you willing to devote yourself to the work and keep showing up even when it feels hard? On days when there are no accolades, no wins, no one to reassure you: You’re doing a great job, keep going!
In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, she tells the story of how she took vows to be a writer when she was only sixteen.
“I retreated to my bedroom one night and turned off all the lights. I lit a candle, got down on my honest to God knees and swore my fidelity to writing for the rest of my natural life.”
What struck me about Elizabeth’s story was that she didn’t promise to be a great or successful writer. She didn’t even ask writing to take care of her financially.
She simply vowed that she would write forever regardless of the outcome.
Elizabeth was 16. I was 43. Some people are in their seventies and beyond when they are inspired to devote their lives to a purpose. It’s not transactional. It’s showing up and doing the work no matter what. That’s devotion.
What’s worth doing even if you fail?
You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously ~ Sophia Bush
Feeling swamped by the number of items on your to-do list? Afraid you may have finally bitten off more than you can chew?
Your schedule can get out of control when you’re trying to tackle a change of job or career. Being reminded that you have the same amount of hours in the day as Beyonce isn’t always that helpful (I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have to worry about what to cook for dinner after a hard day at the studios).
When you’re overwhelmed it can be paralysing. Everything feels waaay too hard. You’ll be relieved to know there are ways to deal with that crushing feeling of overwhelm, without retreating to the safety of the couch and Netflix. I know because I went looking for ideas when I faced the same issues in my business.
I have asked the advice of coaches, scoured Facebook masterminds and listened to podcasts with my ears pricked for ideas. What I discovered is that although there’s no one easy answer, there are practical strategies that can empower you and ease the stress so that you can finally take action on those goals (and feel a whole lot better too).
The Magic Number
It seems that three is the magic number. Whether it’s the number of agenda items in your presentation, the points you include in an email or the amount of major projects on your to-do list, aim for no more than three. You can use this rule of thumb in your daily work life – three major tasks a day is more than enough in my experience. You can also use this when it comes to your career planning. Which three things are going to fast track your goals? You need to be ruthless about your priorities. What needs to come off your plate so that you can do what’s most important right now?
The Power of 15 Minutes
I may not be the first to discover the power of 15 minutes, but it has helped me to make major shifts. When I’m short on time and I need to make headway I give myself 15 minutes to complete a certain task. Sometimes I take a little longer but that’s okay, the point is I have tricked my mind into action. I’ve also found that I can get a lot done in 15 minutes, especially when I let go of the need to make everything perfect:
In 15 minutes you can:
- Invite a contact out for coffee and croissants to ask their advice about your next move
- Research your dream company – what are their biggest challenges right now?
- Write an attention grabbing LinkedIn bio
- Search for your dream job on LinkedIn. Tip: lots of folks post openings in their update feed these days
- Research job ads to see what skills and attributes employers are listing
- Do the VIA character assessment to see what your top strengths are
- Complete two exercises from my 10 Step Career Discovery System to find your ideal career
- Call someone who has the job you want and ask about their experience
- Write a blog post about a key event in your industry and post it on LinkedIn
- Tap on it and clear those feelings of overwhelm
My point is that we have a tendency to make things much harder in our minds than they are in reality. If we think about what we need to accomplish as one long uphill battle then it will be hard to do even one thing, when doing that one thing could make all the difference.
Like the one phone call that landed my ideal job
The newsletter that resulted in 2 new clients signing up for my services
The LinkedIn profile update that led to a speaking opportunity
Approaching my to-do list in this way has helped me to achieve more consistency with my newsletter, (kinda) get control of my inbox, become more active on social media, do more marketing, in short, it’s helped me to get shit done.
As you and I know, everything takes twice as long as you think it will, particularly if you’re doing it for the first time (like say creating an online course, running a workshop or doing your first Facebook Live – it’s happening this Friday!!!).
But you’d be surprised by what you can achieve in just 15 minutes a day.
Try it and let me know how you go?
PS: If you’re struggling to make headway with your career plans, I’d like to invite you to have a free Discovery Call with me to discuss your challenges. You can go here to book a spot.
The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go. ~ Shannon L Alder
Have you been working hard to take your career in a new direction with little to show for it? Feeling frustrated and stuck?
This part of changing your career really sucks, but it’s also completely normal. I see it come up over and over again with my clients. All of them are smart accomplished women who’ve had successful careers. They go and get new qualifications and update their skills, but then it’s like: Now what?
When you’ve been goal driven all your life it can be confronting to find yourself at an impasse but it honestly happens to everyone. Not having a clue what to do next is completely normal when you’re going through change and you’re in that state of flux. Not only that, it’s actually a key part of the change process (if you want to know more about the science behind this look up the Change Curve).
Knowing this fact alone can be a massive relief if you’ve been struggling.
If you think about it, no life change follows a linear path, whether you want a healthier lifestyle, a higher income or a more successful career. The way forward is not going to suddenly become clear as if by magic.
You can’t feel clear and certain about where you’re going AND open yourself up to new possibilities at the same time. If you create hard and fast plans too early you might miss amazing opportunities by becoming too focused on what you ‘should’ be doing.
I know this isn’t an easy shift particularly given we live in such a goal-oriented culture and it can feel unnatural and even a little irresponsible to have no direction and be ok with that, at least for now. Don’t get me wrong I love goals but you can’t force them when you don’t know which direction you’re travelling in.
My advice? Get comfortable with flying blind for a little while and stop fighting it.
You won’t always be in this confused place but there’s a good reason why you’re here right now. It also helps is to remember that before you can have what you want (i.e. a more fulfilling career), there’s always something you need to let go of (usually some form of fear or self-doubt).
What can you let go of that’s going to free up space for you to move forwards?
It could be projects and people but more than likely it will be old ways of thinking that don’t serve you anymore.
Maybe you’re resistant to networking outside of your current industry, because it’s way out of your comfort zone and you’re not sure how you will be perceived.
Or you want to take on a leadership role but you’re worried about the long hours or the extra responsibility. Or you are harbouring major resentment towards your industry or boss.
If you’ve got thoughts like this running around in your head they’re going to block you from seeing future possibilities. You have to actually make space for those ideas.
During this time your best friend is going to be faith – faith in yourself, faith in the higher order of things, faith in your inner guidance and a deep knowing that the way forward will be revealed in its own good time.
Remember you won’t stay stuck forever.
It’s very rare that we see our whole career path laid out in front of us in all its amazing glory. More often than not, we’re lucky if we can see the next step, with the occasional glimpse of what lies ahead.
How do you deal with confusion and lack of clarity in your career?