Q. “I need a career change, but I’m hesitating to sign up for more career coaching. I’ve already been to two coaches. One coach said, “Just take action and get motivated.” Another administered tests confirming what I already knew.”
Sadly, when it comes to careers, everyone’s an expert.
My good friend “Ryan” (who’s had one career since graduating from college forty-three years ago): “If you’re not happy, you should just talk to your supervisor.”
My client “Samantha’s” spouse: “Just do something – anything! You’ve been talking about this for 3 months.”
My former neighbor, wagging her finger at me: “What’s the big deal? It’s just a job. Tell your clients they’ll be fine if they just change their attitude.”
Reality #1: Career change takes time — two to four years.
What do you do in the meantime? You choose a perch job or a bridge job.
Perch job: Think of birds taking a migration break, bouncing on the high wire. You’re not committed to this job and you probably wouldn’t want to stay forever. But you can stop long enough to pay the bills while you search for your next major move.
Bridge job: Your job that gets you closer to a new goal. Maybe you can test your next life. Perch jobs can become bridge jobs and vice versa.
Reality #2: Career change is more like a game of “hot and cold” than a straight line.
Remember the children’s game: “You’re getting hot…no – you’re moving away – getting colder…”
That’s how career change really works, based on published research as well as my own experience.
Let’s get real. If your career advisor had a test that could figure out “the perfect career for me,” he wouldn’t be sitting in a stuffy little office discussing your options. He’d be sipping iced drinks on a beach in the Bahamas and taking day trips on the family yacht.
Reality #3: Career change is more about action than introspection.
You can’t play “hot and cold” unless you’re moving around. Internet searches tend to yield outdated and biased information. Make connections. Talk to people…and then more people.
But don’t confuse focused activity with mindless running in circles. When I work one-to-one with clients, we customize plans. On your own, start with professional groups (not service groups like Rotary), your alumni office, and adult ed classes.
Reality #4: Sometimes the grass really is greener. Many people get richer and happier after they change careers, businesses and/or residences.
Reality #5: Talking to your supervisor (or your colleagues, business associates and customers) is a really, really bad idea. Share your feelings and your vision only with a trusted, confidential source who is completely unconnected to your professional life.
Remember “Ryan” — one career for almost forty years? He is a really good friend but we don’t talk about careers. When someone just doesn’t get it, I recommend changing the subject to dogs, cats, basketball, and the magnificent fall weather. Your friendship and your career change will both benefit.
Executive X says
Thanks for the article, Cathy. I really like the career change comparison to the game “you’re getting hot/you’re getting cold” versus just running in a straight line.
When you start waking up early in the morning to pursue your passion and you find yourself sharing your excitement with others you know you’re getting hot!