In 1999 I combined my 14 years of experience and training in organizational/leadership development, communications strategy, corporate coaching and personal branding and launched my first business—a career coaching and consulting firm dedicated to helping men and women integrate who they are with what they do. Career Strategists is still alive and well and our coaches are serving clients around the globe, but I stepped away from individual coaching years ago to focus my energy on my passion: work/life alignment and life balance. However, lately, I have so many close friends and family that are in the midst of big career changes, I’ve been drawn right back into the career coaching trenches.
My friends are up late at night worrying about interviews, financial stability, re-positioning and re-inventions, negotiations, relocating, life purpose and in many cases, they're looking at leaving behind everything they know to step into a wild, new, very foreign frontier. What do I tell them?
Dear friends in career transition:
• Everything’s going to be alright. Living in the unknown and not knowing all the answers can feel gut wrenchingly painful at times, but it fortifies the soul and strengthens the heart. Read more.
• Don’t forget to ask for help. Don’t forget to ask for help. Saying it twice as it’s a biggie. Read more.
• Give this lots of time and space. On average a career change takes two years—longer if you’re launching a new business. Career transitions and launching new businesses always take more money, time and resources than you think they will. Keep remembering this.
• Put your attention on what you want, not what you don’t want. Feeling miserable at your current job and stuck in a negative spin-cycle? This can shift on a dime when you start to direct your energy to what’s next, what you truly desire.
• Keep perspective. This stretch of time can feel like an eternity but it’s really only a brief blink. You’re in the “in between.” The valley between who you used to be and who you’re becoming.
• Be compassionate with yourself. One of my favorite life purpose authors Gregg Levoy says, "Generally people won't pursue their calling until the fear of doing so is finally exceeded by the pain of not doing so, but it's amazing how high our tolerance is for this kind of pain." (I just received a copy of his new book to review Vital Signs: The Nature and Nurture of Passion).
• Listen to your gut. I once met a woman who had spent an entire year doing informational interviews on a career field she wanted to move into, yet she was still spinning her wheels after 12 months. When I asked her why, she replied she felt pressure to have coffee or lunch with every person her friends sent her way. Follow your intuition. Some contacts will be a yes, some a no and some a maybe or not now.
• Keep your partner and family up-to-date on your plans even if they’re loose. They need to know where you are in the career transition process and they want to support you. Sit down with your partner at least every 30 days for an update. Let yourself be vulnerable and share your fears and insecurities. (Read Holding it Together is Overrated.)
• There is no one recipe for a job search or career change. It’s messy. We’re messy. And it requires you to balance action with contemplation (read more about the dance of the yin/yang). I highly recommend the "baby steps" model.
• Take this time to get your financial house in order (career and money stuff are intertwined). Revisit or create a new budget, look at where you can create more financial breathing room. Commit to revisiting your budget and financial picture monthly or quarterly.
• Be prepared to leave behind that which is no longer serving you. Not just the outdated wardrobe, but the outdated thinking, views and ways of being that no longer serve you (read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks for more support here).
We’re in much faster, more dynamic and chaotic times than when I started my first career coaching business 15 years ago (read Is Crazy the New Normal?). Realize this and know that now more than ever it’s essential to practice good self-care and to remember when things get really tough, sometimes we have to break down to break through.
CAREER COACHING SUPPORT: The best way to find a great career coach is through personal referrals. You can also check www.coachfederation.org and don't forget to tap the free resources available from your alma mater's career services offices. Of course Career Strategists is also here to help and offers free initial consults (read Why You Need a Career Coach but Probably Don't Know It).
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 12 year-old son. More on her background here.