In January 2008, I knew that I needed a change. At 41 years old, I no longer felt fulfilled in my career, but I didn’t know how to pivot to the next chapter. I was aware that I needed to advance, but fear and complacency kept me in my position until I was part of a major layoff in May of that same year. I was forced to face everything that prevented me from moving forward and feeling a sense of purpose. So I merged my skills with my passion and started my fitness company in November 2008.
I followed my instinct and intuition ‒ my motto throughout my journey was “Leap and the net will appear.” I encountered a major life event that compelled me to self-actualize, and many of us have experienced similar feelings these past couple of years as the world shifted during the pandemic.
Stressful work environments, lockdowns, isolation, loss of loved ones, burnout, and the restructuring of values have prompted many people to switch careers in pursuit of purpose and flexibility. People are resigning in droves; in August 2021 alone, 4.3 million people quit their jobs in the United States. Globally, a survey showed that nearly 40% of people were considering changing their jobs.
As we move ahead, it's an exciting time to review career goals and start the forward momentum of envisioning, manifesting, and creating the career that you desire.
When Do You Know It’s Time for a Career Change?
I’ve had many discussions with friends and clients regarding changing careers, and their reasons vary. Many of them struggle with the following:
No work-life balance
The pandemic forced many people to slow down and reevaluate their values, leading to the realization that their values differed from those of the organizations they worked for. When looking for a new career, quality of life is a critical component, as it relates to mental and emotional well-being. If your job takes over most of your time and becomes your number one stressor, it’s a sure sign that change is needed.
Feeling unfulfilled regardless of financial gain
High-paying jobs offer financial security but don’t always guarantee personal fulfillment. For some, no amount of money is worth being unhappy in a career that no longer feeds your soul or brings you joy. The negativity of the work environment can lead to toxic interactions in your personal life.
No longer challenged by or enthusiastic about the work
In my final year in the fashion industry, I fell out of love with my role because I wasn’t being challenged. I felt I’d gone as far as I could in that position. I could either play it safe and continue collecting a great salary or take a leap of faith and step out of my comfort zone. Work shouldn’t be your whole life, but when you start dreading going to work, it’s time to reevaluate your goals and aspirations.
Toxic and stressful work environment
Stress and burnout can affect anyone in any industry, but it’s more common in some jobs than others. Burn out doesn’t happen right away, though: In the beginning, the fast pace of the business may fuel and energize you. Over time, if you’re in “fight or flight” mode for most of your day, you’ll start to feel the negative effects on your physical and mental health. It then becomes difficult to keep up with demands, leading to burn out and signaling that a shift is needed.
It's important to stay updated on changes in your field so that you’re aware of where the market is headed. Your specific expertise may be becoming a thing of the past; if so, updating your credentials and experience becomes critical. There’s the added risk of financial plateaus – if you’re not developing new skills, there may be a cap on how much you can earn. If that’s not in alignment with your financial goals for your future, it’s time to reexamine your objectives and develop a plan.
Reasons for Resisting Change
We can be our worst critics, and negative self-talk can be paralyzing when it's time to embark on a new endeavor. We question our ability to succeed and quickly forget past accomplishments. Our insecurities build roadblocks between where we are and where we aspire to be.
These are examples of roadblocks that come up, along with negative statements that may accompany them:
- Releasing the past and starting over ‒ “I’ve put years of challenging work into this career. I can’t fathom starting over.”
- Fear of the unknown – “If this new career doesn’t work, what will I do?”
- Fear of success – “If this is really successful, am I sure that I can handle everything?”
- Lack of self-confidence – “I don’t have what it takes to start over. I’m not built for this.”
- Perfectionism – “Everything has to be perfect before I make a move ‒ there’s no room for mistakes or revisions.”
- Feeling overwhelmed and anxious – “This is too stressful. I’m not ready for change. I’ll just stay where I am.”
- Imposter syndrome – “I don’t deserve a fresh start. I’m not as smart or talented as everyone thinks.”
- Caring what others think – “What if friends and family don’t agree with my decision? I don’t know if I can manage that.”
- Self-sabotage – “I know I need a change, but I never follow through on anything. Why would this be any different?”
How to Make a Career Change
Now that you’ve identified why you need a change and what could potentially stand in your way, let’s go over the steps you can take to address those roadblocks and initiate positive change.
List the things you’re most passionate about.
Start a journal dedicated to your self-improvement and career goals. Your first exercise is to make a list of things you’re passionate about. This can include organizations, charities, sports, hobbies – whatever brings you bliss.
The second exercise for your journal will be to highlight your expertise and unique qualities. Pinpoint those skills that are transferable and can be adapted to any line of work.
Combine your experience with your passion.
Find a comfortable, quiet place with no distractions and visualize what mixing your skill set and purpose would look and feel like. This exercise initiates a growth mindset that allows you to think outside the box, with an emphasis on using your gifts and passion to blaze the trail for this new chapter in your life.
Determine whether you need additional education or resources.
Once you research your new career, you may realize that additional education is needed, like a new degree or certificate. This will determine a reasonable time frame within which you could start your new profession.
Identify a mentor or support system.
When launching a new career, finding a support system or a mentor is vital. A network of like-minded people will help keep you empowered on your journey. You can also identify industry experts and motivational speakers who have podcasts, books, and YouTube channels. Keep in mind that not everyone in your life will support your decision, so positive influences are needed.
Take a microscope to your finances.
Look at ways to minimize spending and improve your financial wellness. In scenarios where you need to take a pay cut, knowing your monthly expenses plus how much you have in your savings will be deciding factors in your readiness to take that leap of faith.
Refresh your résumé.
When switching from one career to another, organize your résumé in a way that highlights your skills, experience, and dedication. The résumés that best highlight transferrable skills are skills-based, functional, or a combination of the two. If reviewing your résumé yourself feels overwhelming, research résumé writers and hire the one who best serves your needs for the industry you choose.
Set up a game plan with SMART goals.
Organize your goals and the action steps needed to accomplish them. Utilize the SMART goals method to keep yourself on track, pragmatic, and accountable.
How a Health Coach Can Help
Personal growth is an ongoing process. Hiring a coach to support you through various stages of transition offers a nonjudgmental space to work through the pros and cons of change while keeping you accountable to your action plan.
Career is an aspect of primary food, IIN’s unique core concept that refers to all the areas of life found off your plate that impact your health. A Health Coach will check in to see how you’re managing your employment metamorphosis while balancing other aspects of wellness.