The decision to change careers can be a time of conflicting and intense emotions. On one hand, you are excited about the chance to start anew, to learn about a different industry, to work on projects that might fit your skill sets and passions better. On the other hand, there are so many unknowns. Will you get on with your new boss and colleagues? What if the new position demands more of your time and energy than you are accustomed to, or requires you to take on responsibilities you don’t feel qualified for? What if moving turns out to be a mistake?
Here are five ways to prepare yourself emotionally and mentally as you ease into your new career:
- Accept the uncertainty and not knowing.
Uncertainty is part of life and a necessary part of your growth. It’s time to get comfortable with it and to surrender the need to control everything, to have all the answers beforehand, to cover every eventuality and plug every loophole. The need for certainty stems from the need to protect yourself and is rooted in fear, which is fine if there is something that needs protecting, but a hindrance when what you need most to grow as an individual is to trust and have faith that you can handle whatever comes up.
- Expect criticism and doubts, especially if you are doing what seems unconventional.
Before getting defensive, consider this. Some people mean well but express themselves poorly, unintentionally triggering a negative response in you. Some people will be genuinely puzzled by your decision. Some may even be envious that you had the courage to do what they didn’t dare. The best response is to acknowledge their right to express their comments, but not to let them determine how you feel about yourself and your choices. They don’t need to understand you or ‘get’ you, and you don’t need their permission to live your life in the way that is right for you. You have come much further than they could ever know, and you have so much potential in you and so much still to offer the world. So say thank you internally, let them go – and focus on your own path.
- Surround yourself with positive and empowering people and resources.
They could be friends and mentors who share your vision and values, and are cheering your progress. They could be motivational books and audio programs, a collection of favourite inspirational quotes, and affirmations of what you believe and what you want to achieve, that you look at daily and repeat aloud to yourself. It could be a vision board with beautiful inspiring images of what you want to achieve, things and people who inspire you, and what you are passionate about in all the different aspects of your life. These relationships and resources help you keep your emotional energy level high, which is what you need most on days when nothing goes well and you wonder “Why am I doing this to myself?”. The career change journey, like any major life transition, is not meant to be undertaken alone. Reach out for support when you need it, and remember that you will have good days – and days when you want to crawl back into your comfort zone and stay there.
- Keep yourself fit and healthy.
Your physical health affects your energy, moods and emotions, and you want them at optimal levels so they can support your career transition and new career goals. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, the “happy hormones” that make you feel good. Tony Robbins is often quoted as saying that ‘motion creates emotion’, which is why he goes through the ritual of trampoline jumping before going on stage for his live events. Motion and the positive emotions and momentum it generates is what keeps you moving towards your aspirations and goals – it is the antidote to inertia, analysis paralysis and procrastination.
- Practise gratitude.
Make it a habit to write down three or more things you are grateful for every day. Notice how you feel as you go back and read what you have written, especially on days when things are not going to plan and you are feeling discouraged. The Law of Attraction states that what you focus on, you attract more of. So focusing on what you are grateful for in your life sets your mind up to notice, attract and receive even more blessings and opportunities. The negative and emotionally draining stuff starts to fall off your radar, to the point you hardly notice them.
It is said that the average worker will have 5 to 7 careers in their lifetime. If your new career turns out to be an unsatisfactory fit, you always have the option of moving on. After all, you made the transition once, so you know you can do it again. And if you make the most of the five resources recommended in this article, you will be better equipped than most people who are about to embark on the same journey.
CAREER COACHWWW.CAREER-CHANGE-CONFIDENCE.COM WWW.SERENALOW.COM.AU
Serena Low left the legal profession and migrated from her home country of Singapore to Australia to answer the call of the eternal question: “If not now, then when?” She finds her greatest fulfilment in helping dissatisfied career changers make the leap from what they are qualified to do, to what they really want to do. Serena is the author of the upcoming book The Hero Within: Reinvent Your Life, One New Chapter at a Time. She can be reached at www.Career-Change-Confidence.com and www.SerenaLow.com.au.