Changing careers – why it’s different for everyone

A career that excites you

Have you been mulling over whether this is the right time to retrain? The New Year brings the opportunity to evaluate what we want to achieve and set in place goals to help us reach them. Friend of Supermums and business psychologist, Paula Gardner looks at the career change process, and why it’s so unique to each of us.

How you ‘do one thing’

There’s a really interesting phrase that goes “How you do one thing is how you do everything.”. While, I’m not 100% sure it can be applied to every situation, I think it’s a pretty helpful thing to remember when we look at ourselves. For me, the analogy of someone getting into a pool is really useful. Think back to when you get into a chilly swimming pool. Are you the person who jumps in and gets it over in one quick action, or are you, like me, the one inching her way in, slowly getting comfortable with the situation and moving on further when you’re ready?

Career change can be looked at in the same way. There are plenty of people who love to jump, sometimes even without checking the temperature. They are keen to get on with it and get those seconds of discomfort over and done with. There are the others who inch slowly towards their destination, perhaps playing around with a free course here and there to try out whether it’s right for them, chatting to someone who’s already doing the job they are thinking of, and taking steps towards their new career while they are already working doing something else.

Neither of these approaches is better than the other, but what’s helpful is to notice what’s right for you. If you’re a leaper, the idea of slowly inching your way to new career will trigger all those feelings of impatience. Likewise, someone who likes to do things in their own time is going to feel very anxious if they have to accelerate before they’re ready.

Investigating your possible self

There are times in our lives that bring big changes. Having a family is one of them, but illness, bereavement or splitting from a long term partner can have far reaching consequences. Your old life doesn’t seem to quite fit anymore and you’re trying to shoehorn your new life into an old structure. It doesn’t feel right, and quite often we look towards our career as one thing we can change for the better.

Of course, throwing everything in and starting anew is scary, but this type of career change is a bit of a myth. We very rarely wake up one day and say something like “I’m going to be a Salesforce Admin” out of the blue. In truth, we play around with the idea. We join the Supermums Facebook community to check out what other people are saying. We maybe try a few Trailheads to see how easy it is to do. Perhaps we sign up for the Supermums 5 Day Challenge to test drive it and see how it feels for us.  We start properly reading the adverts for the Salesforce jobs to not only really get an understanding of that the job involves, but see ourselves doing it.

In Working Identity, Organisational Behaviour specialist and author Herminia Ibarra talks about these as vital steps in the carer change process. We have to be able to imagine ourselves within that community and doing that job for it to really make sense to us and give us the information we need to make a decision. Joining Facebook communities and trying out the work itself is one way of getting that information. 

Making the decision

It’s important to remember that there are rarely decisions that are 100% right or wrong. All we can do is make the best decision we can with the information we have right now. If we don’t have enough information, then it’s useful to get more, whether that’s through reading, chatting to people or even shadowing someone. There is a danger in this, though, that we stay in the information gathering stage, never making a decision. To avoid this, it often helps if you give yourself a deadline; set time to make a decision either way,  or at least a decision about whether you will take the next step.

What’s also vital to remember, is that as humans, we are wired to value the things we have (potential loss), more than whatever it is we might gain, even if the things we already have might not be so great. Psychologist Daniel Kahneman is often quoted as saying, “For most people, the fear of losing $100 is more intense than the hope of gaining $150.” This is why it’s so important to have a vision, to stop that fear of change holding us back. We need to imagine the sunny future so clearly that we already have it – and that’s the life we fear to lose. 

Have you got your career vision for 2020? We can help make it a reality. If you are a ‘leaper’ and ready to get going now, waste no more time and download a pack to get a link to the application form.

Need more information? Not a problem. You can browse our blog, particularly our Case Studies to hear from those who have taken courses and are now in work. If you’d like to discuss it with a member of our team, book a call HERE.

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