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Career change

Google search 'career change in'... and a few options will appear on google automated responses. In your 20s, in yours 30s, in your 40s, in your 50s...

'Career changes' are all the rage and more common than ever. Until the 80s, an employee was respected for their longevity within a company, as this was deemed to be a sign of loyalty on one hand, and a sign you hadn't been fired on the other, therefore you must be good at what you do. Even until recently, ten years ago say, if you kept moving companies, employers would frown and ask: 'why do you keep moving jobs?' But nowadays the very opposite is happening- you go for a job interview after working in the same company for more than four years, and the panel will frown and think you are not a risk taker. Values have shifted, and employees are also constantly on the move, searching a better deal, but fundamentally seeking purpose. It's the aquarian age, and the question around career is no longer: "what do I want to do", but "why do I want to do this?".

So, I have compiled a list of thoughts around career moves, mostly thinking about those who are trying to shift from one job to another, shifting not only the company they work for, or the role they are in, but the field of work they are pursuing. It is becoming more and more common to go freelance and the new entrepreneur values autonomy and creativity over supervision (even as mentorship) and productivity; the emphasis is now on process (focusing on within) versus outcome ( focuses on output). So, here are a few thoughts, guidelines and tips, if you are in the process of considering or are already making a career change:

1. Act your way into a new way of thinking- instead of spending copious amounts of time in introspection, imagining what it would be like, act as if you were already in your new career, try it out.

2. Stop trying to find your one true self- there's never been a better time to be a multi-hyphenate (a person with different jobs)... There are many selves within you, so test the different selves, experience your different passions, and try out what your new career could feel like. If you can, go part-time or make agreements for flexible work- more and more companies are offering these, don't make an immediate assumption your boss won't attend to your request, ask.

3. Allow a transition period- don't expect a career change overnight. Allow things to slowly go, and hold on to new experiences as you let go of aspects of your old ways of making income. If you're creating a new business, don't expect return overnight, it's important to keep other sources of income as you invest on a new start up.

4. Focus on small wins- success happens in incremental gains. So you're trying to become an actor? Maybe being part of a workshop is success already, perhaps being part of that film as an extra is a small win, even if you didn't get paid. Expecting a radical change will only make you negative about your new career. Really celebrate your small steps on a weekly basis.

5. Experiment- always try out your new career by trialing a parallel path. You want to become a film director? Could you join a class, or do it as a hobby first? Extracurricular activities are wonderful ways to try things out. In any case, attending adult learning classes will unleash your creative self which is also fundamental to any new start up business- so take your hobbies very seriously, diarise and invest in them, as you do in a gym membership. It does pay out.

6. Find people who are already who you want to become- this probably means you need to get out of your comfort zone, leave your usual circles, and really try going to places you don't often go, to meet those who are already doing what you would like to do. Don't be afraid to start a conversation, everyone likes to be praised for what they do, and to feel like they can inspire someone else. People are more likely to welcome a chat from you, if you approach them with curiosity and truly listen to their advice, without preconceived ideas. Mentorship schemes are more common than ever, so look out for these.

7. Find meaning in the change- if you change careers once, you will probably do it again at a later stage in life. Most often once you have your new job, and you have been at it for a while, you will start seeking a new one. Once you loose the flow, and you find the level of challenge is too low for your level of confidence, you will get bored. So enjoy the transition period, as this is the most exciting time, when you are dipping out of your comfort zone, stretching your levels of confidence and being truly challenged. Practise telling your story- retell your narrative and recreate your self by telling the story of your work identity in a different way, and believing it.

8. STEP BACK. I can't emphasise enough the importance of stepping back and reflecting during a career change. It is that dichotomy of holding on and letting go, but also the importance that things usually happen when you least expect and when you let go of truly desiring them. So don't obsess about your new thing. Visualise it, then let go of this mental energy, focus on the action, and take time to be still and reflect- gain perspective. Then, go at it, again.

9. Seize opportunities- fluctuation is inevitable during career changes. There will be days in which you will feel this new thing is right for you and days you will sabotage yourself and feel like a total con. Transition and change is effected through bursts, there will be times where lots happen, and times where no progress is felt. This is the moment you need to stop doubting yourself, and keep at it, without feeling you should have stayed in the comfort zone. At the end of the day, remember why you wanted to change careers in the first place- and go back to your motivation every time you feel less resilient.

Be a chameleon!

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