Changing careers can be overwhelming, exciting, scary, and very rewarding. Change isn’t easy because most people like what they are familiar with. People lean towards a certain sense of safety and predictability when the situation is new. When we are given the choice between bad, but familiar, and uncertainty, our natural human tendency is bad, but familiar. Why? Because it feels safe. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want to move beyond what you know, it’s good to recognize and deal with these emotions and fears so you can find the courage to deal with uncertainty.
What strategies do you need to make these changes? Many times a career change happens when ones’ values begin to change. And throughout our lives we find ourselves in different life situations that can determine and shift our priorities. There are 3 small, concrete “baby steps” you can take to identify where you are headed next to curb the natural fears that arise with change:
Baby Step #1: Do you want a new field, new job function, or job growth?
Do you want to change direction completely or just find a different company with the same job function? Statistics show these days that a recent grad will change their careers about 6 times before they retire. Wow. Gone are the days where you stay with a company for 30 years. Loyalty with this generation doesn’t exist as it has before.
Baby Step #2: What are your values now?
Create a values list (this isn’t permanent). What is most important to you right now in your ideal work situation? Location? Flexibility? Advancement? Salary? This isn’t a graded assignment, meaning there is no ‘right’ answer. Priorities change and sometimes, location is more important than salary. And sometimes salary is the highest priority. All is okay, but it matters to get these things straight so you can find the career that can meet as many of those priorities as possible.
Baby Step #3: Share what you wrote down.
This might be the biggest of the baby steps. Sometimes family members and the people closest to you might not be the best to turn to when you are thinking of big changes that may affect them. That’s okay. Parents have good intentions, but may lecture first (because they want the best for you!). However, this stage may require a Career Coach who has an objective view and can help you practice communicating these changes slowly with people who love you. It’s also a safe environment to play and not have all the answers yet. Keep in mind, that this step is crucial for a new direction. It’s important to get your dreams out. By telling someone else, it becomes more of a reality.
Changing careers is a journey. I believe it takes courage. There is a lot of opportunity for personal and professional growth with a career change. Plus, it’s a skill this generation and job market is going to rely on more and more.