“Do what I say, not what I do…” she yelled as her horse galloped off into the distance.
I didn’t have a hope in hell of stopping my horse from following and taking me along for the ride. All I could do was assume the jockey position and hope for the best.
I was eleven years old and on a riding holiday. The horses were, shall we say, less than well trained. The result was a holiday full of teeth rattling rides on ponies that jogged, never walked, and what could have been quite a nasty fall when my stirrup fell off mid gallop. Thank goodness for the heather that provided a nice soft landing!
Why am I telling you all of this?
Aside from the fact that I enjoy reminiscing, I also want to share my thoughts on making a career change and, in particular, to impart some wisdom from my own experience in the hope that you might indeed do as I say, not as I’ve done.
Define what you want from life
Just a small one to start with then.
For many people their career is not just a job, it’s something that brings meaning to their life and enables them to use and nurture their gifts (as well as earning a bit of money of course). For others it really is just a job. For others it’s something in between.
Chances are that the reason you’re changing careers is that something about your current one is out of alignment with your values.
Before you embark on a career change it’s crucial that you get clear on what you really value in life, how you want to live your life. Are you prepared to invest a lot of time and effort in cultivating a career or do you want to focus your energy on things outside of work? Do you want your career to be an integral part of your life and a reflection of who you are or something that gets you out of the house and gives your life some structure? Whatever it may be for you, figure it out before deciding on a new career path or you might just end up in the same situation a few years down the line.
Figure out what lights you up
“What would you do all day every day for free?”
I tell you, if one more coach asks me that question I will not be responsible for my actions!
My answer to this has always been “Nothing. I want to be paid thank you very much.”
If you’re practical and take things literally as I often do, a better way to frame this might be to ask what comes naturally to you, what are you so interested in that you spend your free time doing it and how could you combine those things to earn money?
I found it quite tough to own what I’m naturally gifted at (we’ll talk more about that later) so it took a while for me to realise that being able to interpret what others are saying and articulate it so that everyone can understand it is not a gift that everyone has, and that learning constantly and then sharing what I’ve learned isn’t something that floats everyone’s boat.
Don’t look too far. Your gifts are more than likely right under your nose and you will in some way be able to make money from them.
Get clear on what might get in your way
Most of us have some funky limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world. It’s vital that you get clear on what these are for you before you embark on your career change. If you don’t, these beliefs will put many a spanner in the works and make any transition far more stressful than it really needs to be. Trust me!
You might need to let go of the need to tick certain boxes, follow certain rules or care what others think of you.
Depending on what your chosen career path is you may need to shed the persona you’ve been hiding behind and evolve into the person you really are and need to be.
And, on that note, I’m going to say something that may go against what you often hear; wait until you’re ready.
I know what you’ll normally hear is that you should do things before you’re ready, so here’s what I mean.
Be ready to continuously evolve, be ready for your transition to be extremely uncomfortable and frustrating at times and be ready to carry on regardless until the point at which your true purpose and path become clear. Everything leading up to this point will have been in service of you becoming ready.
The relevance of this will depend on your chosen career of course and how far you’ve drifted away from living your truth. Personally, I believe the Universe led me down the path of coaching in order for me to evolve into the woman I needed to be to fulfil my true purpose, which is coaching but also working to change corporate culture and help organisations retain more women at the top. I would never have figured this out at the beginning of my journey, I had to wait until I was ready.
Give yourself permission
Don’t worry about what other people think of your idea or whether other people are already doing it. Nobody is doing it how you are.
It took me so long to realise that I didn’t have to be a certain type of person to be a coach and that I didn’t have to coach a certain way. Of course there are certain principles that I will always follow, but the reason people work with me is because they want what only I can offer them.
If you’re making a complete change that involves taking a few risks and doing things you’ve never done before the ego may well try and stop you by telling you you’re not cut out for this, or that “people like you” aren’t allowed to do whatever it is you’ve chosen to do. Ignore it and carry on regardless (this seems to be a common theme!)
Immerse yourself in your new world as soon as possible
Start as soon as you can. Start networking, start doing what it is you’ve chosen to do for free if possible while there’s less pressure on you to make it pay.
Immerse yourself in your new world. Start building a tribe of like minded people by joining groups online or in real life. You will need them to remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing and confirm that you aren’t crazy.
Figure out what you can do whilst in your current role. I coached a few people for free and also created and ran a positive psychology and life coaching based programme for the department I was working with. It was a great training ground for the corporate workshops I now offer.
Put your self care first
Although this is towards the bottom of this list, that doesn’t mean it isn’t vitally important.
If you’re in a toxic work environment, get out as soon as you can, even if it means going into a similar role somewhere else while you make your transition.
Safeguarding your energy is essential. And not just your physical energy. Your mental, emotional and spiritual energy are equally precious. Don’t waste a single ounce of it if you can possibly avoid it.
I spent far too long in a job that was draining my energy on all levels and spent two years putting myself back together as a result. I don’t want that for you.
Making a career transition is likely to take every ounce of strength you have so if you’re starting from a place of depletion it will take so much longer and be so much more difficult.
Put aside two years living expenses
I heard someone say this before I made my career change and thought it was ridiculous. Who on earth has two years living expenses saved up?
Just over two years into my career change with a business that is only just starting to take off due to unexpected health issues I have to say I now agree.
I also know, however, that if I’d waited until I’d saved two years living expenses before making a change I’d still be in corporate.
Do whatever you can to give yourself as much financial leeway as possible is all I can say, and make sure you know exactly what is going on with your finances on a weekly basis. I didn’t do this and it made things a whole lot more stressful, believe me.
Get a coach
OK, OK, of course I’m going to say this, but hear me out.
I worked with a coach who helped me figure out what I wanted to do, but after that I was kind of on my own, especially as most people around me thought I was bonkers to even consider leaving a six figure income.
Figuring out what I wanted to do was just the tip of the iceberg for me. What I really needed was someone to help me work through my limiting beliefs and the resistance I was experiencing to stepping into the new life I so desperately wanted to create.
Over the past few years I’ve worked with several different coaches and I can honestly say that I would not be where I am now had I tried to do this by myself.
So, whether you work with me (click here if you’d like to talk about how) or someone else, please, please don’t feel you need to do this alone.
As always, I hope my words will be of some use to you and, if nothing else, I hope my experiences will save you from making some of the mistakes I did.
Much love Xx