Often when thinking about making a career change, we can get caught up in the myth that it has to be something drastic or that we have to have it all planned out step-by-step in order to succeed. In reality, however you define it, any career transition is unique person by person and a one-of-a-kind experience. My transition is different from anyone else’s because my journey is only mine. Same with yours.
So, if you’re considering making a move, it needs to be based on what feels right to you and for your specific situation, not based on what anyone thinks you “should” do or how. Not much of a plan in place yet? OK. What do you need to give you some level of confidence that you can be successful? Looking for a more incremental change? Great! That doesn’t mean you’re not fulfilling your goals.
Part of the beauty of not having everything all figured out is being able to adapt as circumstances change, just as many are doing here during the pandemic. It doesn’t mean you’re aimless – it’s good to have a vision to rally around – just that you’re able to flex as situations change. There’s no right or wrong way to make a career transition, even though it is a process and you can definitely take steps to help it go smoothly.
What can often support you as you contemplate making a career transition is to identify the needs you have that aren’t being met in your current situation or that you want to ensure get met during the next phase of your life. Getting clear on your needs then helps you get clear on how you’ll satisfy them as part of your vision and a dynamic, changeable plan. Here are a few to consider:
Certainty: As the old adage goes, nothing in life is certain. That said, what can you do, create, or build to have the level of stability you want in your life? Even when craziness and chaos swirls around us, we can always find something that gives us a foundation of support.
Variety: In addition to being the “spice of life,” what can give you energy and a spark when you need it so you don’t get bored, complacent, or lose interest in things? Routines are great and can keep us grounded, yet that doesn’t mean we have to languish in stagnation.
Connection: How will you connect with people and have solid relationships in your life that provide you with the care, love, and support we all need and a sense of belonging? Much has been said about the importance of friends at work and otherwise for our mental health.
Meaning: What can you do that is not only fulfilling for you, but also allows you to feel like what you’re doing matters and gives you a sense of significance? Sometimes, it’s about leaving a tangible legacy. Other times, it’s about the impact we have on other people to carry forward. There’s no right answer.
Growth: How will what you do next enable your growth as a person, however you define what that growth means to you? Regardless of our age, we can all continue to grow as people and have goals that give us a sense of purpose.
Giving: What do you envision as to how you’ll give to your community or support other people? Whether in the workplace or outside of it, the act of giving what we can of ourselves is great for our overall health and well-being.
Imagine you have a book of blank pages in front of you, tantalizing you to write your future. What would you say if you didn’t allow stories or limiting beliefs of how you “should” approach your next career transition creep in and affect your path?
You may not have it all figured out yet (most of us don’t and probably never will) and that’s OK. Keep in mind that starting from a place of needs is good enough. Your next career transition gets to look exactly as it is that’s right for you, no matter your start or end point.