Category Archives for "Career change"

Do more of what makes you happy
Sep 12

What does success mean to YOU?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

What does success mean to you?

I often explore this question with people who are contemplating career change.

It’s important to distinguish between what really matters to you, and what society tells us is important.  But it’s not always easy to differentiate between our own definition of success, and that of others, such as family or wider society.

Success and status

We’ve evolved to be social animals and status is an important motivator for many people. At times in human history, failure or a loss of status in society could be a matter of life and death. And it can feel like that sometimes. Especially if we pin too much of our identity and self-worth to the concept of success and status.

Yes, externally validated success can give you a sense of power and self worth. You may enjoy recognition and respect from others. But what if it’s far more important to feel successful in your own estimation?

What do you value?

One key to being able to work out what really matters to you is thinking about your values. What do you truly value? What’s important to you?

For example, I’ve worked with clients who were successful in career terms. But they were unhappy about not having enough time and energy for their family.  If you feel you’re not being able to live out your values, then it may be time to re-evaluate your priorities.

When it comes to feeling a sense of power or empowerment, this can be an inside job. You can shift your mindset, and choose not to see yourself as powerless or a failure. This is true, even if your career isn’t yet where you’d like it to be. Choose to empower yourself.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

When it comes to respect, choosing to respect yourself and others, makes you less dependent on others people’s validation. And you are more likely to see that respect echoed back to you in the way people treat you.

Money and success

Financial success may be partly linked to status. It’s not just about status, of course. It’s miserable and stressful to not have enough money. And it’s vital to think clearly about your financial situation. Work out how much income you need to live a comfortable life, and to invest for the future. However if you want money in order to give you status or to feel successful, this can be a trap. How often have you seen people caught on a treadmill of having to earn even more money, to buy more things, to display more status.

So it’s helpful to take a step back and ask yourself: how much money do you actually need to be happy and feel financially secure?

This may mean increasing your income. Or it may mean cutting expenditure. The FIRE movement, for example, practices a radical reduction in spending, so that you can save enough money to give you freedom. FIRE stands for: financial independence retire early, and there are plenty of blogs online with advice on this.

Pride in achievement

None of this is intended to take away from justified pride in your achievements and celebrating success.  Instead, it’s about being clear abut what you truly want to aim for in your life and work.

For me success at work is about enjoying what I do. It’s about feeling I’m learning and growing as a person. It’s knowing that my work has a positive effect on others.

And it’s also about allowing myself plenty of time to rest, to read and to dance (my personal passion). By allowing time for relaxation, I replenish my energy for work. This enables me to show up with enthusiasm and energy, and do the best job I can.

What does success mean to you?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Image of letter T
May 18

Are you a T shaped person?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change

Are you a T shaped person? And what does that mean?

You’re probably familiar with the career terms generalist and specialist.

A generalist has a breadth of knowledge and skills within their professional field.   A human resources generalist may understand employment contracts, recruitment processes, grievance procedures etc. A generalist marketing executive will have a grasp of marketing strategy, customer segmentation, campaigns etc.

A specialist has a narrower focus but a greater depth of knowledge. For example, an HR specialist might have a deep expertise in all aspects of employment law and contracts. A marketing specialist might have deep understanding about the use of content marketing for generating leads.

Career paths for generalists and specialists

There are jobs out there for both generalists, and specialists. And one career path may appeal to you more than more than another.

A small company might only have one person working in human resources, or one member of staff responsible for marketing. They may be looking for a generalist who can carry out all the necessary functions to a good standard.

A larger company may employ a team of people, most of whom are specialists.

T-Shaped people

But it is possible to combine being both a generalist and a specialist.

A T-shaped person has a breadth in their field, in common with generalists. The is the horizontal bar in the T.  But they also have one area where they really dig down and specialise in. This is the vertical bar in the T.

Having an area of specialism can be a good thing for your career. Specialists can often charge more for their services. And they can stand out more in a crowded field of job candidates. Yet having a breadth of competencies may open up roles that might otherwise not be open to you.  And importantly it can offer you variety within a job.

How to become T-shaped

What can you do if you’re a generalist, and you’d like to become a T-shaped?

One approach could be to start with your current knowledge. Where in your professional field do you have the most experience and know-how.  Can you deepen this into a real specialist expertise?

Or you could start with the aspect that interests you most. What area of your work would you love to learn more about what books and articles? What do you tend to read, even when you don’t have. What courses do you sign up to, and are happy to spend money to attend?

The interest based approach is the one I most recommend. If you choose an area of specialism that fascinates and intrigues you, then you’re unlikely to get bored. You can go deeper and deeper into that area, and still retain a good general knowledge of your field.

And what if you’re already a specialist but are starting to feel rather constrained and boxed in. You may not need a complete career change. Perhaps you just need to broaden out a bit. Look for projects that take you out of the core area and expand your knowledge and experience.

So would you like to become a T shaped person? And if so, what steps do you need to take?

If you’d like help with thinking through career change in changing times, please feel free to contact me for a chat about professional support.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Changing landscape
Mar 25

Adapting in times of change

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change

We know that we are living through a time of change. The UK has just entered the Covid-19 lockdown. In this blog, I would like to share some ideas with you about change in general rather than career change in particular.

The future is always uncertain

The future is inherently uncertain. This is always true, but generally small incremental shifts happen day to day. So we don’t notice them until much later. We can look back fifteen years, before the era of smartphones, and see a different world. But from one day to the next our lives didn’t seem so different.

The new normal

The current situation won’t last forever.  However, I feel that some things will forever be different when we go back to “normal”. It will be a new normal. My sincere hope is that we can bring valuable learning from this period of reflection, into the future. We know from scientists that were on an unsustainable path environmentally for example. We may find that we need or want to travel less in the future than in the past. And perhaps there’ll be a greater appreciation that the most valuable work in our society is providing food and of course healthcare. Some of these valuable jobs are those not traditionally accorded high status, from delivery drivers to supermarket staff.

No-one can truly predict the future, because it emerges out of the present. This means that times of great change hold great risk, but they can also foster creativity and potential. A small shift in the trajectory of our future can make a massive impact over time.

Change v. Transition

In William Bridges’ book Managing Transitions, he talks about the difference between change and transition. Transition is the process we go through as humans, in adapting to change.

“Change is situational: the new site, the new boss, the new team…. Transition is the psychological process people through to come to terms with the new situation. Change is external, transition is internal”   (Bridges 1995)

In a typical change context, the end and beginning tend to look quite clear. You are promoted from team member to manager. The end of one role and the beginning of your new one is the change. The transition is the process you go through to start to really feel you fit the new role.  Bridges calls this in-between phase of transition, the neutral zone. Endings-Neutral Zone-BeginningsPart of adjusting to change involves acknowledging endings. This may involve grieving for what has gone, celebrating what has been achieved, marking an end.  And then recognising and accepting the mixed emotions of the neutral zone. Then be open to recognising the beginning, when it arrives. Psychologically this may not immediately follow the ending. And of course these stages may not be as linear as the diagram shows.

During in these Covid-19 times the situational context is also in rapid transition. And aside from our personal and collective transitions, there isn’t yet a clearcut ending or beginning. It may have started for you with a news story in a far off country. Or a realisation that lockdown measures were affecting Europe. A few days ago  I was adjusting to moving my coaching and training work online. Then I was adjusting to the idea of home schooling. Then to the lockdown and rule that we should only go out once a day.

In the neutral zone

So we now find ourselves in an extended and ever shifting “neutral zone” with all the feelings that can include. There may be uncertainty, grief, fear and anxiety for sure. But also reflection, innovation, new perspectives, even new hope.

I see people reaching out to offer help in the community, bringing out the most generous and altruistic side of human nature.  And also of course I see people judging others, displaying greedy or fearful behaviour, and sadly a few incidences of racial prejudice.  This is because we are human beings and we have have light and dark in ourselves. I recognise in myself that this time has made me aware of some of my less admirable characteristics, as well as my positive traits.

For those of you in lockdown, I’ll be sharing ideas over the next few weeks which are more specifically related to your working life. How can you can use this time to reflect in a positive, creative and constructive way for a return to a “new normal”?  How can you maintain a positive focus?

What matters to you?

To get started, perhaps the most fundamental question to think about is what principles are really important to you, your values. Even in the most inauspicious situations, we can always choose to try and live by our values, to show kindness for example, when part of us would rather shrink back. And showing kindness to ourselves as well when we fail (as we most likely will) to meet our values as fully as we’d like to.

You may find it valuable to spend some time writing down your thoughts. You can use a question as a prompt such as “what matters to me?” and write down what comes up. Don’t censor or edit as you write, just let your thoughts flow.

Need some help?

If you would value some help in thinking through the changes in your work life, my supportive career transition coaching  is now available via Zoom, Skype or phone.

 

 

Unhappy at work
May 01

How to make a career decision when you’re unhappy at work

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

If you feel unhappy at work, it may be a sign that it’s time to move on. But feeling unhappy at work can make it difficult to assess your best next steps. You may feel more driven by moving away from your current situation than by what comes next. You may not yet have a clear vision of where you want to go.

So before you make a move, it’s worth asking yourself what you really want. Is it a new career in a different field of work, or a similar job, but in a different company or sector?

What is the cause of your unhappiness?

Allow yourself some time to consider the root cause of your dissatisfaction. It may be that you don’t feel at home in your organisation; perhaps the company culture or purpose of the business doesn’t feel like a good fit.

Or it may be about the way you’re being managed – a common reason for unhappiness. This tends to happen when you’re either micro managed or not given enough support and direction. Either situation can lead to you to doubt yourself; it can knock your confidence and sense of self.  You may find that you would thrive in a similar role under a different manager.

Signs that you might be in the wrong job are when the elements making you unhappy are more about the culture, environment or management than the work itself.  Do you feel that you’re not getting enough positive feedback?  Are you not allowed to get on with tasks that you are perfectly capable of doing? Do you find you have little in common with your colleagues?

It’s also worth thinking back to what attracted you to your job in the first place.  What were you hoping for, were the job to have worked out?

Are you on the wrong career path?

Signs that you are on the wrong career path might include a lack of enthusiasm for learning more about your field of work.  The skills you enjoy using may not be a good fit for the job, and you may not be playing to your talents and strengths. You might feel a lack of satisfaction. You might not want to tell people what you do for a living.

Or it may be that the career you’ve chosen doesn’t fit with your other priorities. For example if you value family time and weekends with your children, you might need to rule out a career that always involves weekend working.

Recognise what makes a good fit

Ultimately finding the right job or career involves a range of factors. It’s partly about recognising your strengths, and being honest about your weaker areas. And it’s also about tapping into what interests you. Do you want to learn and progress in your current field, or do your interests lie elsewhere? What will give you a sense of purpose at work?

And it’s recognising the type of company culture that would be a good fit. Do you like a structured environment, or a more relaxed flexible ethos?  Do you enjoy a team environment, or is it more important to you to have autonomy in your work, and perhaps the opportunity to do some work from home? Do you like to be office or site based, or to be out in the field?

Some lucky people have known what they want to do from an early age. But for most of us, finding the right career involves a certain amount of trial and error.

And sometimes the only way we can gain an understanding of what we want, is to have an experience of what doesn’t work for us.  Accepting that you’re in the wrong job or career can be positive step, if you then use this knowledge to reflect on what you’re really suited to.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Apr 17

Can you afford to change career?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

If you’re thinking of making a major career change, chances are you’re considering the impact on your finances. This was certainly the case for me when I decided to work for myself back in 2003.

I’m not a financial risk taker. But this didn’t stop me from making the calculated decision to take the plunge and start my own business, at a certain point in my life.

The reality is that a career change may result in a financial hit in the short term, although this is not inevitable. And there is evidence that people are more successful when they do a job that plays to their strengths. So if you’re not in the right role or field of work, making a change may increase your long-term earning potential. Or you may think a lower income is a price worth paying to work in a sector that feels more worthwhile, or a role that offers you more freedom.

I believe there are two key questions you need to ask yourself. The first one is focused on the short term, the second on the longer term.

Q1. What do I need to earn?

This is really about clarifying the minimum income you need to pay for essentials. If your career change involves re-training, or starting again at a lower level in a new field or industry, then you may need to accept a temporary drop in income. If you are not as clear as you could be on your current financial situation, take time to audit all your monthly and annual expenditure.

This process is likely to uncover areas where you could cut your costs. For example are you paying too much for household expenses? And if you stopped commuting, how would this affect your outgoings?

For help with assessing and reviewing your budgets, it’s worth looking at the Moneysavingexpert.com website.  A good starting point is the Do a Money Makeover page which includes links to a downloadable budget planner and lots of advice on reducing your expenditure. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/money-help#personal

Q2. What do I want to earn?

This is a question as it’s about your future ambitions and lifestyle.

I’m a believer in the maxim “do what you love and the money will follow”, as long as you temper this with a pinch of realism. If you love your job you are more likely to be good at it, and to progress up the career ladder, and the same goes for running a business. But if a certain level of income is important to you, then this will affect your career choices. Starting your own business or company can offer a high degree of freedom, and the potential to generate wealth, if you can come up with a commercially viable idea and are prepared to do the work and take the risk. But the reality is the majority of small enterprises bring in a more modest income. Many people are happy if they can establish a sustainable lifestyle business.

Taking a leapWe all have different attitudes to risk. Speaking personally, I stayed in employment longer that I might have done because I wanted to achieve a certain level of financial stability before working for myself. This was the right decision for me, especially as I was single at time so had no-one to fall back on. But others might have chosen to take the leap sooner.

When you start on the process of thinking about your longer-term financial goals and security, it’s worth getting some advice from a qualified independent financial adviser. A good adviser will listen to what is important to you and make recommendations accordingly. The moneysavingexpert website outlines things to consider before seeking advice.

And if you would like some help with thinking through a career change decision, consider working with a career coach. Taking some time to reflect on your choices can help you work out what is right for you. It can allow you a confidential space to “try out” your ideas for different career choices in a neutral, non-judgemental environment.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Dream job
Mar 28

Is finding your dream job realistic?

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Motivation

Is there a job that you would love to do? Or a business you would love to start? But you don’t yet have the experience, and are not even sure if achieving your dream job is realistic.

Let’s face it, most employers are risk averse. They want to be certain that you are up to the job. And the easiest way for them to be sure, is to hire some who has actually done it before.

Even if you dream of running your own business, you will soon run up against reality. If you don’t offer a product or service people want AND find a way to tell them about it through your marketing, then you don’t have a business.

So how do you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you want to be?

3 steps to bridge the gap

There is a 3 step process that can help you navigate through change.

A. Have a vision of where you want to go.

B. Get crystal clear about the reality of where are you right now.

C. Work out the steps needed to get from A to B and turn these into an actionable plan

Start with a big dream

I’m a big fan of realism when it comes to reviewing your career options, but only at the right point. The right point is after you have identified your absolute ideal job. So start off by dreaming big!

What do you love doing so much you would do it for nothing? What difference do you want to make in the world through your work? What would you do if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

Then get real

But after forming the big dream you must ask some reality-checking questions about it. Do you know exactly what this work involves on a day to day basis? Try and speak with people who are actually doing this type of work to get a sense of what is truly involved.

A reality check of your perfect job or business may throw up compromises and barriers. For example more status and money may mean working longer hours. You may need to gain new qualifications or experience. Your may need to make sacrifices to reach a higher level.  Is this what you really want?  Or you might identify fears of not being good enough – can I really make it? Isn’t it safer just to dream?

Or it might reveal that even if there is a long way to go and sacrifices to make along the way, you are absolutely committed and willing to do what it takes.

The reality check means you are starting to turn your dream from what may be pure fantasy into a vision of something you might actually end up doing. You may find yourself making changes to your original dream job at this point. To start with a big ambition and adjust it after a reality check is far more powerful than to limit your thinking initially with too much “realism”.

Make it happen

Once you’ve identified a job, career or business idea that resonates and feels right, then you can start to work out how to make it happen.

And this is where it’s important to come back to the present and focus in detail on where you are now. This includes digging down into all your strengths and transferable skills. And be honest and specific about any gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.

Then you can start to formulate an actionable plan.  If there’s a big gap between what you want and you can’t see the end point, then set a mid point. Identify something that would give you a lot of what you want and then work towards that.

The truth is that successful career change can involve a fair amount of good fortune and serendipity as well as careful planning. But the great thing about planning is that it is within your control and something that you can do NOW to take you a step closer to achieving your dreams.

Like some help?

A career coach can help speed up the process of career change. Contact me now for your FREE 30 minute career consultation. REQUEST YOUR CONSULTATION HERE.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Career Options
Jan 24

How to make great career choices

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change

At this time of year, we tend to focus on our goals and future direction. We may feel motivated to make choices about where to go next in our careers and working lives.

Do you want to stay with your existing company or look for another employer? Is it time for a complete change of career, or to make the leap into self-employment?

Maybe you want to downshift to experience the lifestyle you really want, or aim for a promotion with more responsibility and financial rewards.

When you can’t make a decision

The range of choices available to us means that we can get stuck between different options. Sometimes we don’t know what would be the best step and it is easier not to make a change at all.

If you find yourself in this position, there are various methods that you can use to help you make great career choices. Here are some approaches that I have used successfully at various times in my life.

Advantages and Drawbacks

This is where you write down the pros and cons of each choice. This is simple but can be very effective. A good method is is to set up a page with three columns headed Advantages/Drawbacks/Interesting. Then brainstorm every aspect of your choice. The interesting column allows you to capture thoughts that arise during your brainstorm that are not either a pro or a con.

Do this for each of your choices, and see if clarity emerges as you look at your lists. It is important to write everything down in this exercise, as this gets the thoughts out of your head and onto paper, where you can assess them more rationally. Sometimes a small risk can feel out of proportion when it’s just a worry whirling around your head.

Weighing up choices

The second method is more intuitive, but can be effective when you are deciding between two options. Sit down and get relaxed. Hold your hands out in front of you, palms up and imagine that you are holding one choice in each hand.

Smiling Woman with Palms Up

Feel you choices as if there are things that you are weighing them up, one in each hand. Does one choice feel heavier and the other choice lighter? This can be a way of tapping into your intuition and generally the lighter choice is better.

Another way of tapping into your intuition is to ask yourself a question about the choice just before you go to sleep. Trust that your subconscious will work on the answer while you sleep, and the answer will be clear to you when you awaken.

Possible futures

This is a great method if you are someone who finds it easy to visualise. In this method you mentally project yourself into the future, and imagine how it would feel to inhabit two or more possible futures.

This exercise works well if you stand in a room or outside someone quiet, and imagine your future self standing several paces in front of where you are now. For each choice, see your future self in a different spot in front of you.

Then taking each option in turn, walk to the spot you have imagined for your future self and look back at yourself. What is your life like now? What does it feel like to have taken this option? Then walk back to your present self and take some notes.

Choosing a career path

Have a bit of a shake out, and then repeat the exercise by walk to the other future you, and imagine what that would be like. Make the picture as vivid as you can. Then walk back to the present and make notes.

Committing to a decision

Once you have a made a choice, then it is much more likely to be successful for you if you commit fully to it. I love the late Susan Jeffers’ “no lose decision making” model from her book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. Jeffers explains how we waste valuable energy in fearing that we’ve made the “wrong decision.” Instead of spending time thinking about how other options for our lives could have worked out, we can instead see each choice as a positive path towards “goodies” in our lives and always be focusing forwards. This doesn’t mean that we don’t continually review, adapt and adjust our path in life and work. But’s so much more productive to make a clear decision and then stay focused on moving forward, rather than pondering on what might have been.

What choices will you make this year about your life?

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Woman with cluttered brain
Nov 30

Clear mental clutter to gain career clarity

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Career development , Creativity , Motivation

Many of us tackle some clutter clearing from time to time, and often this is about getting rid of unwanted physical “stuff”.

But what about mental clutter? This could include outdated assumptions or ideas that could that be getting in the way of making beneficial changes or stepping up a level in our career or business.

I’ve just been inspired to do a late autumn clutter clear in my office. Getting rid of redundant papers, sorting out my files and disposing of some old boxes (including baby slings last used in 2009!).

Clearing outdated physical clutter set me thinking about the internal clutter we also hang onto for too long. Are any of these things clogging up your mental shelf space?

Redundant qualifications

It can be hard to let go of hard-won qualifications. If you took a law degree for example, does that mean you always need to work in the legal field? Of course not, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of a past achievement in order to follow a career path that is right for us now.

Self-judgements

It’s so tempting to judge ourselves against our peers or even some external imagined standards. We may metaphorically beat ourselves up for not reaching a certain level in our career by a certain age. Or compare ourselves against other people. But everyone’s life path is different, and some of the most interesting and accomplished people didn’t find their vocation until quite late. The bestselling writer Mary Wesley published her first adult novel at the age of 71.

Too many ideas

Ideas flowing Making a clear decision about a career, or a business niche, can be scary, because it means letting go of all the other ideas of things we “could” do. It means closing down possibilities, at least for now. In career or business planning, there is a time for generating lots of ideas and possibilities, and this can be valuable. But to make things happen you have to take action. And to take action means making a decision. And making a positive decision to follow one path means letting go of another direction, at least for a while.

I say for a while, because it is perfectly possible to build a successful portfolio career with different strands and income streams. But there is a danger in trying to do everything all at once, and power in making a decision and staying focused on one thing for a while, to give it a chance.

Perfectionism

Perfectionism can hold you back. Trying something new involves risk, whether that’s going for a promotion or starting a business. You will make mistakes, and that can be painful. If perfectionism is one of your traits, take some time to work out what it’s costing you. Wanting to do a great job, and putting in the graft is well worth it. But expecting perfect results when you do something for the fist time can set yourself up for disappointment and a sense of failure.

In his book The Chimp Paradox, Dr Steve Peters suggests that if you set your bar for success as “doing your best”, then this is always achievable. You may not do something brilliantly first time, but you can always gain satisfaction if you know that you gave it your best shot and did the best you could at the time.

Outdated dreams and visions

Creating a vision of where you want to go to in business or life is valuable and important. It can give you a sense of direction, a compass to navigate the choices and opportunities that come your way. But we change and what matters to us can change. If you made a decision some time ago to follow a certain direction, it may be time to check in and make some adjustments. And be mindful of differentiating between a setback along the way, and a true change of heart.

Find a listening ear

If your mind feels cluttered with ideas, concerns or judgements, then it can be invaluable to speak to someone. A chat with a friend can help clear the mental cobwebs. And do think seriously about working with a coach too. A few sessions with a good coach can help to shift outdated thinking, and clear space for fresh new ideas to come in.

And if you would like some help, email me to request a free telephone consultation.

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Book
Oct 19

How to turn your career vision into reality

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , Motivation , Small Business

A first step in making a career change is to work out where you want to get to.  This is true whether you want to land your dream job, or want to start or grow your own business. But this may not be enough, on it’s own.

Create a vision of your future

Creating a vision is an important step towards your ideal future. It’s worth taking time to work out what you really really want. Sometimes that clarity can be enough to set you on the path to success.

But sometimes, identifying an ambitious goal can spark a sense of overwhelm. The gap between where you want to be and where you are now seems huge. How will you bridge the chasm?

Assess your current reality

The answer is to start with an objective assessment of where you are now. A vision of a desired future is an important element to achieving goals and can provide the pull to get you going. But it’s not enough on its own. You have to find the motivation to take action.

In her book “Rethinking Positive Thinking”, psychologist Garbriele Oettingen shares her research that indicates positive visualisation on it’s own can actually reduce your chances of success. You may feel so psychologically buoyed up by your happy thoughts that you lack the sense of urgency or internal motivation needed to actually do the work needed.

She suggests that once you have identified your end goal, you then actually face up to and imagine the reality of the obstacles or the internal stuggle that you will face along the way. Research shows that “mental contrasting” between your goal and the current situations will make it more likely that you will achieve what you want.

Creative tension leads to action

In “The Path of Least Resistance”, Robert Fritz differentiates between people who just dream about or imagine their desired future, and the creators who take action to turn their vision into reality. The gap between the vision of your dream job and the reality of what you have now provides the structural tension needed to take action.

Writing a bookSo you need to be clear about where you are now, and what are the steps you need to take right now to move towards your goal. It doesn’t matter how small your first step is – the important thing is that you take it. And you need to be aware of what might get in the way, for example fear of rejection or the distractions of social media. Then make a plan for how you will move past this obstacle if it comes up. And then you take action. And then you take a next step. Build in some time for reflection, learning and planning after each step.

For example, if you want to write a book, it’s one thing to imagine your successful book launch, and all the wonderful ideas that you will be sharing. But you also need to consider what might get in the way of you sitting down day after day to get your words on paper. And then identify some specific strategies to help you overcome the resistance, moments of self-doubt and procrastination that hit almost every successful author along the way

Small steps up a mountain

Climbing a mountainAnother example, if you’re considering self-employment after 30 years in corporate life, there may seem as though there’s a mountain to climb in terms of learning. But there are plenty of people who were in this position a few years ago. So a small step could just be to have a conversation with one or two of them.

You could book into a small business networking meeting, chat to a few people and find out what they do. Or if you feel nervous at the thought, overcome this by taking an even smaller step. You could contact the leader of a local networking group leader for a chat. They will soon let you know if pre-start ups are welcome at their events, and how to make the most of your visit.

Look back and celebrate

A final thought. It can be helpful to look back on goals you have achieved, and celebrate the steps you took that led you to where you are now. Remind yourself that goals are great, but action is awesome. You can do this!

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

Planning a holiday - job search
Aug 01

How planning a holiday can help your job search

By Felicity Dwyer | Career change , freelance

I’m writing this during the summer holiday season, and wondering what the experience of planning a holiday can teach you about searching for a new job or career?

Know yourself

Choosing the right holiday requires a realistic understanding of what you need and want. A lively resort, or a hike in the hills? Would relaxing on a cruise ship be your idea of heaven, or would you be ready to jump overboard after 24 hours?

Similarly, we all feel happier in different workplaces. For example, an exciting fast paced career or a professional field such as law might seem aspirational, but you might in reality be happier in a hands-on caring role. Or you may believe in the ethos of public service, but in reality feel frustrated and feel hemmed in the bureaucracy of local government, yet find you thrive in a start up.

The key to happiness at work is to identify what really matters to you, not what you or others think you SHOULD want.

Accept your life stage

Seaside holidayThere may have been a time when you yearned for adventure, but now you’re better off with the kids on a sandy shore with a bucket and space.

A demanding job that suited you in your 20s may not be such a good fit now. Sometimes family or caring commitments require a re-evaluation of your career ambitions.  And you can do this in a way that sets you up to re-build your career later on. A typical working lifetime is around 45 years. Rather than try to do everything it once, it’s fine to scale back and step up at different life stages.

Research for job search

Chances are that you do a fair amount of research before choosing a holiday. Perhaps you look at options online, read reviews, talk to friends, ask for recommendations… Sometimes it might seem that we do more research for a holiday than for choosing a career!

A serious job or career search requires plenty of research. Google is a good starting point, but don’t underestimate the value of talking to people. And don’t just rely on people in your social circle – reach out to people in fields that attract you. Ask for introductions, see if people will be willing to give you some advice. Find out what your dream job is really like.

Use imagination

Beach sceneWhen you’re looking at holiday options, you may find yourself imagining what it will be like. You see yourself getting up to breakfast on the terrace, going for a daily swim, relaxing over supper in a taverna…

When you’re thinking about career change, try imagining yourself in a series of different jobs or fields of work. What will your daily routine look like: what will you be doing, who will you be seeing, how will you be feeling

Consider the positive aspects, and also make sure your vision isn’t too rose tinted. It’s important that you include elements such as your daily commute. See yourself doing the duller parts of each role as well as the more interesting aspects. Do the positives outweigh the downsides?

Package or go-it-alone?

Do you prefer to book a package holiday – letting someone else sort out the practicalities and logistics? Or do you prefer to arrange your own holiday, booking the travel, accommodation and any transfers yourself?

In career terms, employment is more like a package deal. Your employer supplies the job description, the parameters of the role and usually the accommodation, such as an office or workshop. You provide your skills and energy in exchange for a salary and benefits.

This contrasts with self employment, which can be more like a go-it-along trip. You have more freedom to create your own freelance career or establish a business. But there is a lot more for you to organise, before you even start work. You need to ensure there is a market for your services or products, and be willing to get involved in marketing, selling and managing your enterprise.

Ask an expert

Many of us arrange our holidays online, which is analogous to using job boards or looking at job ads. But sometimes it’s easier and more effective to book via a travel agent. A good agent will listen to your requirements and recommend suitable holidays using their specialist knowledge.

Similarly, if you know the type of work you are seeking, a good recruitment consultant can help match you to a job or company where you are well suited.

And if you’re not yet sure what kind of job you want to go for, a career coach can help you work this out, with impartial expert support.

Wishing you happy holidays!

Career Change Toolkit Report

Career Change Toolkit


Contemplating career change or job search can feel daunting. Download this free toolkit full of resources and tips to help you feel more confident about your next steps.

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