Playing Around with Career Changes: 4 Steps to Get Started
Updated: Jan 18
The first time I handed in my notice, I was in my early twenties and I still remember the feeling it left in the pit of my stomach. My body was tense, my mind was in overdrive but I was excited to learn and to grow. Leaving the comfort of my first job, I was lunching myself into the unknown and I was excited for the challenge!
Looking back, I know I made a rash decision and I'll be honest, I think the voice in my head was screaming it too but my ambition, restlessness and curiosity all won out. So I accepted a job, with a pay cut and reduced responsibilities because I believed in its potential. I really thought I was joining my next 'Deliveroo' so it was all worth it. Instead, it was a mere four months later that I found myself looking for another career change. It seems ridiculous to me now but I know that I pinned a lot onto the job description for that role and I read what I wanted to see instead of noticing the facts. My assumptions and hunger for a change got the better of me and so, in the process, I learned my first step:
1. Have you properly read and understood the job description? Dissect it, imagine it, discuss it and question it! If you can't imagine your working day then how do you know that you want this job? What makes you want the change, is it about the role or is it about something else?
Unfortunately, my impatience had got the better of me and I had launched myself into a role that wasn't a good fit for me or my skill set... or my ambitions. Of course, I did learn some things but my expectations had been so low, I was learning about things I was not interested in and I was surrounded by other people I didn't resonate with. It was far from the career change success I had imagined. This change also knocked my confidence in ways I hadn't expected and it took much longer than the time I was at the job to build it back up!
Thankfully, I soon found a job that was a much better fit where I felt able to learn new skills and where I could also use my old ones. This was just what I needed for my confidence and helped me find a balance at work that had been missing before. Hurrah!
As we lean the hard way, life and change isn't always something we can be in control of and so, as it does, the balance shifted, and almost two years later, I was looking again for another career change. By this point, I had been in three different industries, collecting new skills, a greater awareness and piecing it together as I went along but it didn't feel like a very coherent route. I often dreaded the 'what do you do' question as I just didn't feel very successful. Which leads us to point 2.
2. So you know you want development, learning or growth but know that isn't enough. What area or skill set are you wanting to expand upon? What would you like to respond to those probing job questions? What would make you proud to share? If you are building on skills you actively want, you'll be much more passionate about using them for future self employment or to discuss avidly at your next job interview.
And so the big bosses of job world had challenged me to finding a new career path yet again. It was different this time though, I wasn't afraid of change, I was afraid that I might not find something that ever felt like fulfilment. Scared I would rush into making a half-baked decision, I stopped, took a step back, cut loose, packed my bags and went travelling.
Even though I felt run down and unfortunately full of shingles, I knew I needed to asses what was going on as I was in a pattern that wasn't working for me. Whilst I was away, I found a coach and I sat on the beach reading things like ‘Flow’ and ‘I could do anything, if only I knew what it was’. Making a definitive decision to stop and think was helpful but it was slow and I realised that no one was just going to give me an answer.
Thankfully, there was a catalyst that made everything line up and it came from an innocent conversation over dinner with an old colleague. We had been talking about travel and I had become really absorbed in telling him everything I could about South America. Afterwards, he observed how he hadn't seen me speak about something quite so passionately before and suddenly, it clicked. I recognised that I needed more things in my life that I was passionate about and better yet, my work needed to revolve around them. The question I started asking myself wasn't 'what do I want to do?' It became, 'what can't I stop talking about?' Changing this question meant that I just needed to find the clues in my behaviour and actions instead of responding to the impossible! Looking back, it's pretty clear to me that I had figured out my work needed to align with my values, something coaches talk about a lot.
Put simply, my career needed to include things I care about.
3. What gets under your skin? What would you talk about for hours about or spend hours doing? What values show up for you in those topics? Challenge and play are top priorities for me and they've kept me going through the pandemic. These things have meant I feel comfortable being my own boss but also that I want to share joy with other people. This started working at a board game company and now, through setting up Game Plan.
Call it what you want but once I made this conscious decision, it gave me a clear idea of what I was looking for and as a result, relevant, exciting opportunities started to appear.
Even though it had taken years from my first resignation, I had finally worked out a career change that at last, fit my idea of what I wanted.
Changing career is a process. It is a labour of love that takes time and sometimes, experience. If we don't stop to consider what we're looking for, things can just happen to us.
If there's one thing you do today, I encourage you to take ten minutes to notice what you are tolerating, what you are missing and what you are desiring. Reflection (and not just doing!) is really useful when it comes to making bigger life decisions and it can support us in creating stability for our future selves. Which leads me to your bonus point:
4. Have you got a list of skills written down somewhere? In what ways are you reinforcing your self-belief each day? How are you investing in yourself at the moment? Our physical environments and even the smaller detail like clothes and social groups can really impact us - how do these things currently support the future you are looking for?
I thought changing carer would be a one-time thing but I was wrong and that's Ok. Each step, I took what I had learned from the change and the new job and I tried to make a more informed decision next time around. How can you start using the above questions to create a career change that makes sense to you?
Want to create a career change Game Plan? Get in touch with me to find out more!