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I feel like I am dying inside. I had a big dream to express my creativity through my marketing role, but I realised that marketing is not what I want to do. All I know is that I cannot do this job for much longer. And I also cannot quit my job. I am stuck. – shared Sandra at the beginning of our coaching session last week.
Do you know that feeling – when things don’t work in the way you want but you don’t have a solid plan to move forward?
When women share their deep desire to change career or reinvent themselves, our conversation does not start from breaking down that outcome into smaller goals. We move away from the traditional goal setting process to discuss the following career change approach:
1. Step out
When you feel unhappy, you may be tempted to make a big decision that sounds too scary. I encourage my clients to consider a “step out” strategy of small wins, resulting in incremental gains.
Don’t exhaust yourself with the attempt to find one magical answer that will bring a profound positive change. If you desperately seek that silver bullet, you may end up more stressed and paralysed. You will probably have to cycle several times through similar smaller steps before you get it right.
When you want to embark on a career change, a good idea might be to research the projects or steps that will give you a flavour of the new job. It is critical to step out – to act, instead of to sit and hide from yourself.
When clients are not ready to leap to something new, I encourage them to experiment with activities without making any major commitments. They still hold onto their existing jobs and identities, comparing and constructing their new experiences, until they narrow their options. This phase still requires a serious commitment to experimenting with different options but still without making a firm commitment to one.
3. Search for meaning
Allow yourself to be confused at first. Then focus your attention on testing and learning about all possible versions of yourself. We are not only reflecting on who we are; most importantly, we are testing whether we really want what we think we want.
If you conclude that this career idea was just an illusion, this is still a good outcome! Then use this insight to adjust your expectations and decide on your next move.
4. Focus on incremental shifts
Incorporate events and experiences you are going through into crafting your new leadership identity story. What you make of events is more important than the events themselves.
Life will send many surprised your way, so take advantage to revise or reconsider your story. Be open for your story to change along the way – focus and build on the incremental shifts instead of waiting for a life-changing moment to come to you.
5. Inform the next cycle
Let go of your need to know everything at the beginning of your career transition. Only through interaction and active engagement in the real world, you discover your true self. Seize unforeseen opportunities. Flirt with different versions of yourself. When you get stuck and feel confused with the insights, reflect on how and why you are changing.
Do not let unanswered questions demotivate you.
Move on, cycle through these phases again and again, until you find your authentic self and reach your career goals.
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