How to Make a Successful Career Change

I have been very privileged to coach many interesting people through important career transitions – mostly mid-career professionals, executives and working parents. These might be people who have achieved tremendously in a certain industry, and want to entirely rethink the direction of their professional life; or people who are looking for new opportunities after moving to a new country; or people who want to leave the corporate world and launch their own businesses; or even people who just want to leave their current job but don’t know exactly what they want to do next.

How prioritising mental preparation creates the foundation for a sustainable and fulfilling career change

In most cases, when we meet for the first time, most of my clients bring their CVs into the conversation. No matter where they come from, how experienced they are, or the type of career change they want to trigger, they all use this document as a badge of honour for what they have done so far, even if they want to embrace something completely different. In all these interactions my answer is the same: “Your CV might be great, but it’s not relevant for the work that we need to do – at least, not yet.” This often catches them by surprise because they see their employment history as an important anchor that should drive their conversation about a career change.

My intention is to shift their focus from what they have done and from the external world, to what they consider important, what they want to do and their inner world. I believe that every career change should start within. If you want to make a sustainable career change there are six steps that you should follow to lay the foundation for a meaningful and fulfilling change – and this should certainly come before updating your CV.

An ideal career transition should be sustainable and tie in with who you intrinsically are. Why? Because when what you do is closely related to who you are, that’s when you strike the lottery of career fulfilment. But the internal work is not an overnight process – it’s not easy, and requires planning, reflection and dedication. The deeper you go internally the more likely you are to make a successful career transformation that will bring you excellent results externally. That requires total focus and commitment, but the pay-off is hugely rewarding and completely transformational.

These are the six steps that will take you there:

#01 – Expect and manage the fear factor

According to John Fisher’s 2012 Process of Transition and Personal Transition Curve (which I recommend anyone going through a transition to explore), fear is the third factor you will experience during a transition, right after anxiety (questioning if you can handle the change) and happiness (seeing glimpses of change).

As exciting as the prospect of a career change might sound, the fact that you will most likely be trying something new, walking through unchartered territory and stepping outside your comfort zone, will mean that you may well be plagued by both real and imaginary fears. You will almost certainly question yourself and your ability to pursue your dream. Will I be able to do this? What if I fail? Maybe I don’t know enough about this? Perhaps it’s too hard and I shouldn’t bother trying?

The truth is, all of us as human beings face moments of self-doubt and fear. But we all have one important thing going for us, and that is a CHOICE!

You must be aware of your power to choose. The power to choose to ask empowering questions, rather than those that increase your fear. How can I make this transition a success? What are the first steps that I can take to get closer to my goal? Is there someone who has already done what I plan to do? What can I learn from that person? What other challenges have I managed to overcome and how? How can I tap into those resources in my current transition?

You yourself can initiate this transition from feeling disempowered to feeling empowered, by simply getting into the habit of asking yourself these types of questions whenever you experience any fear. These questions will begin to open new doors for you. They are empowering and will shift your perspective from a path of no or little hope to a path of endless possibilities.

#02 Create an inner allignment plan

A career change can be an opportunity for transformation and reinvention and an excellent opportunity to reconnect with yourself and to realign. Consider this period between deciding to change and starting to focus on a new job or venture – the transition period – like a pit stop in the race of life. During pit stops cars get quickly taken care of by expert mechanics: they get refuelled and cleaned, they have worn or damaged parts replaced with new ones, and they stay parked until they are ready to return to the race track.

A significant career change – despite the emotional turmoil, despite the moments of insecurity and stress – can be a great opportunity for a personal pit stop. What should you be focusing on during this time? My suggestion is to create an inner alignment action plan focused on three main areas: your body, your mind and your soul. Accept that because of the change you will be quite unsettled and often distressed (especially if you are someone who likes to be in control and appreciates routines), and knowing the next steps in this period of uncertainty can be challenging. Your inner alignment action plan is your transition anchor. You recognise that things will be complicated, uncomfortable and messy, and you will use the plan to stay grounded. The inner alignment action plan will help you stay in control, know what you are doing and why you are doing it, and stay focused on a positive outcome. How? In these three ways:

Take Care of Your Body: This one is very simple – embrace an exercise routine so that your body stays active, and this will support your mind. Exercising regularly, staying in contact with nature or simply committing to go for a solo phone-free walk every day will help you re-energise and stay focused. Plus, during a major transition, a lot of things are unclear. As creatures of habit, most of us like certainty and predictability. By adopting an exercise routine specifically for this period, you will give yourself this certainty and predictability – it should be an activity that you can control and that has positive outcomes.

Take Care of Your Mind: Create a transition journal – this will help you embrace the journey and stay focused on the destination. You can write about why you want to change, the job or career you aim to start working on, and the actions you are taking to get there. Write about the challenges and the opportunities, and end with a note of gratitude to yourself for all the efforts you are making every day. Why do you want this transition? Knowing the reason and reviewing it daily will sustain you throughout the journey. You should also focus your journaling on the things you like doing, and the things you dislike; the things that fuel you and the things that drain you; your hopes and dreams.

Take Care of Your Soul: Concentrate on what is around you. Get rid of daily distractions. Embrace moments alone and in nature. Try and stay quietly focused, alone in silence, looking around at beautiful things. The goal is to feel inner peace and to give your inner voice some attention – let this voice speak to you and guide you.

#03 – Your strenghts, your values, your joy

A career change gives us all an excellent opportunity to completely reinvent ourselves, to rewrite our life rules and to embrace a new path, to dream different and very big dreams, and to choose that spark inside that drives us and makes us very good at something. It’s not always easy to identify the best way forward, but there are effective methods of discovering this, which help us recalibrate, refocus and engage with our values.

Personal strengths assessment tests are a great way to help us reconnect with ourselves. By working through them we can tap into what comes naturally for us to do. There is an array of tests available to help us learn more about our strengths – examples include Strengthfinder 2.0, 16personalities, MBTI and Tony Robbins’ DISC assessments, though there are also many others.

Knowing your values is another important anchor in your transition, and there is also a wide selection of values tests that I would invite you to explore – examples include the Work Values

test, Your Core Values test or Values Profile assessment among many others. What are the things you stand for? What are the most important things in your in life?

Lastly, and as simple as it might sound, what are the things that give you joy? For example, if you are fuelled by people, and love to help others to improve their lives, is the career you’re pursuing allowing you to express that?

So why are these three steps so important? Because doing something that brings you inner joy, plays to your strengths and is aligned with your values is a simple recipe for career happiness.

#04 – Visualize and map your future

This step is often underestimated yet is tremendously powerful. Visualisation is the ability to project yourself into the future and imagine your ideal life – two years from now, five years from now, even ten years from now. When I suggest trying this to my clients in a coaching session, they often look at me in a puzzled way, because they don’t know where they will be next year(no one knows, for that matter), and find it very difficult to visualise their lives in the long term. However, even if it is hard at first, I recommend attempting to visualise how you would like to see yourself in the medium to long term, with a time frame that works for you and you feel comfortable with.

Why is visualisation important? Because it enables you to tie in the decisions you make today with a long-term vision you have for your future. For example, a very dear friend of mine who is an amazing photographer was struggling to decide on a few areas to focus on – individual portraits, family photography, children’s portraits, lifestyle images or bespoke products. She wanted to simplify her professional offering but couldn’t decide how.

I asked her what she would be focusing on in an ideal world if everything went according to plan and she was the best photographer in the world. Guess what? She immediately had a crystal- clear vision of the three main areas she wanted to focus on.

Projecting into the future and visualising can give you clarity in the present. If there were no restrictions and an employment fairy dropped from the sky to give you your dream job, what would that be? Let’s expand on this. Where do you want to live five years from now? What do you want to be doing? Where are you working? Where do you live? What do you look like? For this exercise, I suggest you sit or lie down in a nice, comfortable place that is conducive for reflective daydreaming. Put some meditation music on, close your eyes and just imagine your ideal life … where do you go? If you aren’t used to this, the first time might seem strange. But with practice, your images and desires will become clearer, and you will start having glimpses of your desired future. Do this as often as necessary to get a crystal-clear image of your dreams.

Once you have a clear vision of what your ideal future looks like, it’s time to map it out. Write it down so that you are clear about your goal, then start sketching out some ideas for action. So imagine, for example, that five years from now you want to be managing your own organic shop. What needs to happen one year before that? Maybe find a space for the shop. And two years before? You might need to have a good network of organic suppliers and clear distribution agreements. And before that? You get the idea. Mapping means planning the steps that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be.

The ideal path you aim to pursue might require you to grow as a human being and expand your skill set. One of my clients who switched from the corporate world realised that in her future vision she saw herself helping others through coaching.

So she had to bridge the gap between her current self and her future self, and for her, that meant enrolling on a course to gain a coaching certification. Put simply, bridging the gap means that you are upgrading yourself. What should you be learning in order to reach that goal of yours? Read books, watch videos, develop your skills. You have visualised and mapped out your future, so now you need to assess what kind of resources you need to reach that. Bridging the gap is about finding out who you need to become and how you need to grow in order to achieve your ideal future.

#06 – Find a goal achievement partner

I always recommend working through a career transition with a synergy partner or a goal achievement partner. This can be a family member or a friend who can support you unconditionally. The ideal partner shouldn’t judge and should be encouraging. He or she should challenge you in an empowering and kind way and should allow you to question things. Fundamentally, this person should be there for you with open arms when things go badly and cheer you on when you are pursuing your goals in full swing. This person should be able to tell you hard truths in a kind way.

I can assure you of one thing: if you take the time to focus on these six steps to guide your career transition, you will become extremely aligned with yourself, and more aware and connected with the deeper part of yourself that drives you. You will become so clear-sighted and so motivated that when you meet people, you will be able to share your story in a powerful and engaging way.

Only now, after doing all this mental preparation, should you start thinking about updating your CV and your LinkedIn profile. If you work on yourself first, people will be much more engaged and fuelled by what you are trying to do, and will be more likely to support your endeavour. Your CV becomes secondary and YOU become centre stage.

Are you considering a career change? Have you switched jobs recently? Have you used any of these strategic steps? Have you experienced any doubts or fears? If so, we would love to hear from you– let us know your thoughts and what have you learned so far. Or, if you are happy in your own career but know someone who might be considering changing their career, and you would like to encourage and inspire them, please share this article with them. Thank you!

Julieta Timane

Daring to Change Your Career – Daring to Ask Powerful Questions

“The quality of your life will be determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself.” Tony Robbins

Questions are extremely important. As a coach I see daily how a powerful question can help someone become thoughtful and intrigued, then pause and reflect, then discover a different perspective, articulate thoughts or simply consider the question, trying to figure out how to answer it. Sometimes you can answer a question immediately, but often the questions that I’ve seen make the most difference are the ones that make people stop in their tracks, lean back in their chairs and go deep into their thoughts, into themselves. In our daily lives we often have habits, do the same things and follow set patterns. A powerful question enables us go on a different mental path, into a maze of reflection or new thoughts and ideas that can lead to something new and exciting.

That is why it is so important to ask powerful questions – and the best ones are open-ended questions: What, How, Where, When, Why, Who? By avoiding questions that you can simply answer with yes or no, you are allowing yourself to expand your awareness and gain new perspectives. When you are planning or going through a career transition, asking powerful questions is a must that can help you to confidently navigate the challenges that come with every career change. So what are some of the questions you should be asking yourself when you are planning a career change?

1. How can I honour my journey in the world?
2. How can I make a positive impact in the world?
3. How can I make sure I’m having fun in the process of the transition?
4. How can I make sure that I celebrate small achievements?
5. How can I stay grounded when things don’t go my way?
6. How do I want to be remembered?
7. How often will I dedicate time to focus on my career transition?
8. How will I celebrate my career transition?
9. What am I doing – even if I’m not paid for it – that gives me tremendous satisfaction?
10. What are my most important values?
11. What are the things that I really love about my current job?
12. What will be the biggest challenges in my career transition, and what steps will I take to overcome them?
13. What is the most dissatisfying thing about my current role?
14. What is the next action that I will take to move forward during my transition?
15. What will I tell myself when I feel fear and doubt?
16. What is the value of what I want to do?
17. When am I at my best at work?
18. When was the last time I changed jobs – what worked at the time that can sustain me now?
19. When will I know that I’ve made it?
20. When will I know when to regroup and change direction or take different actions?
21. Where – if there were no restrictions – would I like to be in my career in a few years’ time?
22. Who are the naysayers and how will I avoid them or ignore their comments?
23. Who are the people that are doing what I want to do, and how can I learn from them?
24. Who can be my goal achievement/accountability partner?
25. Who can give me honest feedback when I’m feeling stuck?
26. Who will I become by achieving this career transition?
27. Who will I invite to my new job celebration?
28. Why do I want to change my career or find a new job?
29. Why does this change matter so much to me?
30. Why am I pursuing this change now?
31. Why shouldn’t I give up on my dreams?

By answering these questions you will understand the deep-rooted reasons that you want to follow a certain path, embrace a certain job or pursue a certain venture. Knowing these reasons will either deter you and make you realize that this might not be an ideal path for you, which will then take you into further refection, or it will inspire you and drive you to follow through with your transition with even more commitment.

In either case, my suggestion is to continue to ask yourself these and even more questions. Embrace the habit of continually asking questions so that the answers help you gain awareness and start doing a job that is in true alignment with who you are.

Julieta Timane

Have you changed careers recently? Have you already asked yourself some of the questions above? What was the most relevant question for you?

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Daring to Change Your Career, Daring to Face Your Fears

“Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change.” – Jim Rohn

Are you doing a job you love? If you aren’t, I know exactly why!

It’s not because you aren’t worthy of your dream job. It’s not because you will fail at it. It’s not because you aren’t skilled – because you can learn new skills. Could it be because you haven’t stopped and made a plan to pursue it? Maybe. Or perhaps because you have been procrastinating and leaving your plan for tomorrow? Or is it because you think that it will not be possible to earn enough money exploring your passion? These are also valid possibilities. Nonetheless, the number one reason stopping everyone in the world from pursuing their dreams is …

F E A R! Fear! In all forms and shapes. It could be fear of failure, fear of success, fear of loss, fear of embarrassment, fear of the unknown, fear of struggle, fear of regret, fear of change, fear of starting something new, fear of disappointment, fear of not being good enough, fear of not being deserving, fear of being unworthy of success. The list goes on and on and on … Read the list and make an honest assessment. What is the biggest fear that is stopping you from pursuing the career of your dreams?

And most importantly, how can you tackle this fear? Here’s a simple list with a few options.

#01 MAKE A LIST OF YOUR FEARS and all the challenges that you will face when you embrace a change – going for a new job, venturing into that business, starting to plan – and make a list of actions you can take to tackle each fear and potential challenge you envision.

#02 CHANGE THE STORY YOU TELL YOURSELF about fears embrace it. Create a positive mantra to counter the fears you are experiencing, such as: “This job is outside my comfort zone but it will allow me to grow tremendously and achieve my dreams.”

#03 MAKE A LIST OF POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS and repeat them, embrace them. Feel the positive emotions.

#04 SHARE YOUR FEARS with a supporting friend or family member, and ask them to be your fear accountability partner to support you and encourage you when you feel overwhelmed.

#05 WORK WITH EXPERTS to support you during your transition journey. Formal or informal professional mentors or coaches can really make you feel empowered.

#06 IDENTIFY THE GAP YOUR FEAR IS POINTING TO. Fear often points to a lack of confidence that is triggered because we need certain skills or to improve in a certain area. Do you need to study more? Do you need to speak to someone to balance that gap? Take action.

#07 WORK WITH A PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST. If none of the above work for you, and you feel paralysed for a long time without seeing the results you know you are capable of achieving, consider working with a professional therapist to work on your subconscious fears. The fears you are not fully aware of yet may be the reason for that lack of action in the direction of your dreams. Working with a professional therapist – like an hypnotherapist or healer, to name just two – can get down to the root cause of these issues and trigger immediate results.

#08 DO A SIMPLE VISUALIZATION EXERCISE. What will happen two years from now if you don’t take any action? What about five years from now? Or ten years from now? Embrace the emotions you feel. Will you be able to forgive yourself for not taking action when you had the chance?

How have I discovered all this advice? Because during my personal journey from employee to entrepreneur, career and transition coach and speaker, I often found that I was unconsciously sabotaging myself because of my own fears. From where I am now, these early fears seem quite ridiculous. But at the time, in order to make the huge meaningful change I wanted, I knew I had to find the courage to face these fears. Take action. Experiment with all – yes, ALL – of the above.

Whatever fear you are experiencing, know that you are a deserving human being. So face your fears and take action towards Daring to Change Your Career. Your dreams await you.

Julieta Timane