…. and how to get started
Career change coach Becky Kilsby gives us her thoughts on why now is the perfect time to rethink your career.
How can a global pandemic be the right time to think about a career change?
In this period of uncertainty and volatility, perhaps holding on to the job you’ve got right now is the best possible future you can see.
But try taking a longer view. In five years’ time, how will you look back on 2020? Will you be proud of the choices you made – or regret the choices you avoided?
For many, the very uncertainty brought about by Covid-19 has prodded them to think again about their career direction. When you don’t feel safe, it certainly concentrates the mind! The question then is ‘What else can I do?’ And finding answers to that question aren’t always easy.
Or has the pandemic actually allowed you to think more about what or who really matter to you – and to make positive choices to protect these values, people, or a way of life you hold most dear?
This reminder of our own mortality has also encouraged others to be brave – to make choices based on hope rather than fear. To make real changes on their own terms.
So where do you stand?
Are you wondering whether to take voluntary redundancy, or fearing your job might be axed once the furlough scheme comes to an end? Perhaps you’re being forced to face the potential demise of your business, or have already lost your job. These are such challenging times. But it is always possible to rebuild and to open a completely new door.
Whatever your situation, give yourself the chance now to pause and take stock. Where are you heading, and is this the very best you can do?
These 10 questions will help you open up new possibilities, so why not make yourself a coffee, sit down and get ready to rethink your career.
The Big Questions
1. What matters most to you?
I’m talking about you as a person, not you as an employee or business-owner. When you have clarity about your highest values and choose to honour them in your decisions and actions, that’s you at your most authentic. You’re being true to yourself.
This is what one of my former clients called ‘aligning who I am with what I do.’
If you’re finding your values being compromised, or unfulfilled in your current working life, then it may well be time to explore what work could feel more aligned.
If you value AUTONOMY and are micro-managed, that’s a trigger.
If FAMILY is your top priority and you are asked to stay away from home more often, that’s another.
If you love COLLABORATION but have to work alone, that’s a clear mismatch.
Very often, we can identify our values by noticing when they are compromised.
2. What gives you a sense of purpose?
What difference do you make in your career? When your name comes up in conversation what will you be remembered for? These can be vital clues to where a more meaningful future might lie.
If your career feels out of sync with what matters most to you and the kind of work you will feel proudest of, this question needs answering. It’s one aspect of finding the WHY that drives us individually.
One career changer started working with me when he realised he couldn’t explain what he did at work in any meaningful way to his young children. He wanted to experience a sense of pride at the end of the day and to know that he had left the world a better place.
Think about the things you are proudest of in your life and your work. How could these be expressed in a new career?
3. Where can you use your favourite skills?
We all have far more skills than we would readily claim, but which of these do you really enjoy using? When you can combine well-developed skills with a sense of pleasure and pride, that’s a great recipe for fulfilment and impact.
I wonder how much you are able to use your favourite skills in your current career – and where else they could make a greater impact? What are today’s problems they could help solve?
4. What energises and motivates you?
Think about times when you’re so absorbed in your career and work that you lose all track of time.
Do these activities also energise you?
You may end up with two list here, but this is great insight, because who doesn’t want to be energized and motivated at work? It’s certainly more rewarding than feeling drained and bored.
5. When you’re 95, what will you feel most proud of?
This may well be the biggest question of all. It could take you way beyond your career to other areas of your life involving family or community projects. But asking this question gives you another clue to what might be missing or denied in your current work.
Now might be the time to make a bold choice.
6. Go deeper
Instead of allowing yourself to stagnate, job-hop or panic pivot, slow down and go deeper with these 3 nudges:
Who are you?
It’s time to finally understand what your strengths are as well as what motivates you. Add this information to your answers to the values and purpose prompts. Now you’re building a clearer picture.
What does success mean to you?
This is such an individual measure, so give yourself some time to reflect. Try answering this question in as many different ways that are completely true for you:
I will feel successful when I ……
If you’d like to identify your personal measures of success, you can download a free guide here.
Until you can answer this question for yourself, you could well be heading in completely the wrong direction. In reality you’re likely to be sleep-walking or actively steering towards some else’s idea of success – a parent, a teacher or a mentor who influenced previous choices.
One life – but several versions of you
The clock is certainly ticking. We’ve all been reminded of our mortality in recent weeks and you’re not the same person you were at 18, at 30, at 45, at 60.
It’s never too late to design a working life that suits you head and heart. As writer and researcher Brené Brown reminds us:
“There are penalties to leaving big pieces of your life unlived. You’re half way to dead. Get a move on.”
7. Ditch the ‘shoulds’
As soon as your eyes are open to what (or who) has guided your career choices to this point, you can start to make new choices;
But being honest with yourself can also be difficult. Perhaps you’ve invested in a great deal of training and have developed valuable experience, been promoted and achieved a certain lifestyle. It may look like success. But if this work is no longer fulfilling you or meeting your new criteria of success, you won’t be acting authentically, nor will it feel like success.
The easiest way to know if you’re expressing your true needs and desires is to be on the lookout for the word ‘should’. This word can point to someone else’s view of the world. When you can ditch the ‘shoulds’ and other people’s measures of success, you are charting a new authentic course.
8. Be daring & nourish your dreams
Despite the disruption, uncertainty and anxiety that Covid has brought in its wake, what have you actually enjoyed about life during lockdown?
When you picture your ideal life today, does it look slightly different than before the pandemic?
Sometimes we need an external nudge to start understanding our vision of an ideal life. When you know what you value, what you’d like to achieve and how you’d love to live, it’s much easier to build a route to your new world.
Give yourself a free rein to dream big. Be creative. Ignore the gremlins that point out the pitfalls even before the picture has shivered into focus.
And when you have that vision, capture it, create a vision board, a poster, a narrative to bring it to your attention every single day. When you lose focus, this will ground you to what matters most to you.
9. Don’t compare
My vision isn’t better than yours. It’s mine and it works to guide me towards a rich and fulfilling life. Yours can do the same for you.
But we all at some point fall into the trap of comparing our progress with other people we know. Remember that an external view of another life is just that – a surface impression, not the messy, lived reality of that life.
So as much as you can, be comfortable in your own skin, understand what matters to you and keep those comparison demons at bay.
10. Taking the unique YOU to the world
There is only one you.
If you’ve followed some of the ideas above, you’ll be starting to understand exactly what makes you unique and where your talents, values, experience and motivations could make a real difference.
So how can you present these to potential employers or clients?
Whether it’s in a redesigned CV, a tailored application, a revamped LinkedIn profile, website or marketing copy that shows the real you, you are now using your true voice to engage the world.
By focusing on strengths, achievements, values, purpose, or the many other aspects that make you who you are, you have the clarity to demonstrate your relevance and how well you fit future opportunities.
Final word: Belief in your future
When you do the kind of inner work I’ve suggested in this article you’ve taken an enormous step towards the life you really want. Until then, there’s a very real danger that you’re living the life you never remotely intended.
If you decide to use this time to open up new career possibilities, remember you don’t have to go it alone. If I can help, just drop me a message and we’ll start unlocking the work life you’ve secretly been longing for. And if this article has sparked a hope, the germ of an idea, or a call to action, I couldn’t be happier. The world is waiting for you!