Do you agree that one of the best ways to start your new career discovery is to learn from others who have done so successfully?
Through my work as a Career & Business Coach I have worked with a variety of professionals who all have one thing in common: they want more than a job that just pays the bills.
In other words: they want to feel engaged and upbeat at work.
If you have been looking for a positive change in your career, I am excited to share the top 9 tips of successful career changers with you.
Follow these tips, and you will soon know what it feels like to experience meaningful and engaging work.
1. Explore with an open mind
When you’re starting out looking for more meaningful career options, don’t just think about and analyze options in your head.
Actions speak louder than words. Get active and actually start dabbling and experimenting with interests and hobbies. Often, it’s only by doing something that we know for sure whether we love doing it, or whether it’s just the idea of something that sounded great.
I have personally found this step difficult, as the outcome feels so uncertain – but I know that once you get going, you learn very quickly. It’s fun and you can start eliminating ideas that otherwise clog up your mind.
2. Pursue your interests and strengths rather than a passion
Beware of the word ‘passion’. It sounds attractive and almost magical, but it’s the minority of people I know who have discovered a new, meaningful career by following their passion.
Instead, think about what activities bring you joy. By doing which activities do you get lost in time and forget everything around you? When do you experience ‘flow’ in other words?
Also, are your clear on your strengths? This free test has been devised by one of the world’s leading scientists in Positive Psychology, and can help you identify and build on your strengths.
3. Don’t let the size of the challenge discourage you
There’s never a perfect time!
In the past, I put off making my next career move for 3 years, because I was waiting for the rest of my life to be in a ‘better place’. The problem is, that day probably never comes as it’s by doing stuff that things change.
So a big piece of advice I learned the hard way is to accept that you’ve got a big challenge ahead of you. No matter what’s standing in the way, you can overcome it.
Do you feel you don’t have the right skills yet? You can study or retrain.
Do you have a mortgage and bills to pay? You can stay in your current job while experimenting and dabbling in the evenings, on your commute and on weekends.
The question is: what can you start doing right now, alongside your current job, to learn and grow?
4. Networking is incredibly useful and not as scary as you think
One of the most useful things that accelerated my career journey, when I finally convinced myself it wasn’t as scary as I thought, was networking.
Think of networking simply as having insightful conversations with people who do interesting stuff.
By talking to other people who have experience in an industry you want to learn more about, you learn way more than you can ever find out from Google. Furthermore, you get a strong impression of what the people in this industry are like.
Can you imagine working with them? Did you finish the conversation on a high, or with an unsettling feeling? You have to trust your instinct on this one.
I’ve written an article about how to network best, check it out if you’re still hesitant and don’t know where to start.
5. Embrace your unique history and practise your story
Another misplaced thought that held me back for a while, was that I felt my experience and my CV didn’t demonstrate that I would do well in the new career I was interested in.
My first business was in luxury interior items, my second business was in health foods, and now I was interested in coaching and mentoring. Where was the red thread?
The truth is, the career landscape nowadays is so vast and complex, that it’s often the people with the most varied backgrounds and the best story that land the coolest jobs. But you have to put in the time to reflect on and rehearse your story.
Practise speaking with friends about your career history, where you’ve come from, where you want to go, and how it all connects. This builds confidence and credibility, which are paramount when you network and explore career opportunities.
Once you can proudly tell your story with confidence, others will believe you, and you have a good chance of outshining someone else who has a CV that ticks more boxes, but who has less enthusiasm, drive and credibility.
6. Use the momentum to re-think your life, not just your career
I’m a big believer in keeping the wider picture in mind when you plan your next career move. Don’t just think about how you want your new role to look like, but what do you want your life to look like?
Do you want to spend more time with your family? Or do you finally want the freedom and flexibility that comes with being an entrepreneur?
What about also becoming better at time management and being more productive – skills that will come in especially useful if you plan to juggle your current job with dabbling in new career related activities?
Use the momentum to have a complete look at your life and think about what you want more than anything else, as well as improving what skills will make the journey easier for you.
7. Slow and steady wins the race
Accept that you have to invest time and effort in finding your ideal next role. As I mentioned earlier, cliches like ‘just follow your passion’ are unrealistic and unhelpful.
It’s likely not going to be a linear path from where you are now, to finally being in a role where it feels right. Many people I know had to make a few changes before the dots finally connected, myself included.
What’s important is that you commit to taking one step in front of another, again and again.
There’s a lot of truth in the proverb ‘Slow and steady wins the race’.
Some steps get you far ahead, and some steps get you a tiny bit ahead, or they might also get you temporarily off path. You have to embrace the mistakes and blind alleys as well, they’re part of the course.
Bottomline – if you don’t expect shortcuts, and you’re willing to put in the effort and expect it to all take a bit longer than you originally thought, you’ll be fine.
Remember – just because something feels difficult and like you’re not getting anywhere, you are in fact learning. Progress is about consistently learning and not stopping.
8. Failure is your best friend
The point I just made about embracing and expecting failure is crucial. I know it’s easier said than done, but once you allow yourself to experience failure, you will notice how it subsequently builds your courage and confidence.
The more failures you experience, whether they’re job rejections or people who refuse to answer your emails, the less scared you will be next time round. Now that I’m running my third business, I still get rejections from potential clients, but they don’t impact me nearly as much as when I was running my first business.
There’s no way around it – in Denmark we say just ‘Bite the sour apple’, which means just go ahead and do it.
Once you do, your next challenge will be easier, and you’ll know that it’s true.
9. Trust your instincts
Discovering your ideal next career move requires you to be open-minded before you reject an opportunity. But whatever you do, trust your instinct and gut feeling when new information enters the picture.
A new type of role might sound good on paper, it might even objectively match everything you want in a role, but if you get a hunch something’s not right, you’re have to listen.
I strongly believe that although we can’t measure something like instinct or gut feeling, it’s really your experience, some of it you don’t even know you have, advising you in the background.
When you’re on the right path, you’ll quickly know it’s right.
Although everyone’s career discovery is unique, the above 9 tips embody common success patterns that will accelerate your journey and make you more likely to succeed.
As daunting as the process might seem, it’s actually quite fun and exhilarating once you get going and experience the small wins.
I want to emphasize two of the above tips as being in my mind the most vital ones:
Firstly, the tip about ‘slow and steady wins the race’, and the one about trusting your instinct. You can’t NOT succeed if you keep taking one step after the next, and by trusting your instinct you avoid huge missteps that could steer you off course.
Working with a coach can also make the journey quicker and more pain-free, so feel free to get in touch with me if you’d like to explore this option.