Hal had been working in the same field for upwards of 15 years. He’d seen steady progress in achievement, job titles, recognition and, yes, salary.
All this came to an end during the pandemic. Hal hadn’t been out of work for a long time, but he was confident he could move quickly. He had strong skills in engineering and had worked for a financial organization. He had strong leadership and interpersonal skills. He could write and speak at a level that was well above average.
Hal hadn’t realized his success would make it harder to change careers. Potential employers believed he would come with high expectations.
Friends tried to be optimistic. “It’s an opportunity to start over,” they said. “Maybe go out on your own. Or take a. year off.”
Hal was faced with many tough decisions. He was beginning to realize how a career affects everything: where you live, how you relate to your family, and how healthy you are. Clients tell me they never feel they have enough information. A crystal ball wouldn’t hurt either.
There are no simple answers. Here are ten tips I share with my clients who want to make solid, strong decisions when their world is spinning.
1. Make career decisions based on who you are now — not the person you were ten years ago (or even ten days ago).
Maybe you spent a life as the quintessential urban resident and now you realize you really want to plant a garden. You enjoyed twenty years of law or medicine or sales, and now you find yourself writing poetry and making time to help a third-grader learn to read. Your old career will not fit anymore.
2. Be willing to walk away if you’re not ready to sign on the dotted line.
You always have choices. If you’re supposed to have that house or that job, it will almost always be there tomorrow.
3.Share your plans with friends, family, and colleagues.
Pay attention to their reactions. But even more importantly, notice how you feel when you share. Are you proud and excited? A little uncomfortable?
4. If you keep going back and forth, you probably need more information.
Talk to people who have first-hand experience. Book and Internet knowledge will be outdated by the time you read it.
5. Create a worst-case scenario for the option that is most tempting.
Now compare to the worst-case scenario for what you feel you really should do.
6. Recognize your financial comfort zone.
Some people sleep soundly when they don’t know where they will get the next mortgage payment. Others toss and turn when their checking account falls below ten thousand dollars.
7. Resist pressure to make speedy decisions.
During a time of transition, fast decisions can actually slow you down.
8. Keep tuned to your own intuition.
Insist on quiet time before making big decisions. Meditate, write in a journal, and/or enjoy your own company in the outdoors. If you feel uncertain or intimidated, go away until you feel stronger.
9. Take small steps if at all possible.
I use the metaphor of dipping a toe into the water. Warm? Start wading. Do you find yourself waving good-by to the people left behind? Are your toes curling happily into the wet sand? Or are you finding sharp rocks, icy water, and harsh tides? Do you feel ready to take off and swim to the other side of the world? You can still turn back, but do you want to?
10. Give yourself time.
Nearly every client who has made a major life change has called me to say, “Ouch. I think I made a really bad mistake.”
Six months or a year later, they are thrilled with their new careers — or they realize what they need to do instead.
Choose your next career without tests or crystal balls. Click here for my kindle ebook.
If you’d like my support in helping you through your next career change, check out the Career Strategy Session. My clients find it’s extremely productive – and saves a lot of agony when making decisions.