How to change career? Identify the source of your unhappiness at work
‘I couldn’t wait to change career…dealing with un-cooperative work colleagues was often a demanding and frustrating task as I felt that I was always chasing people and asking them to be accountable for their action or often inaction.’ [Annette: Project manager to teacher]
It is important to assess the reasons why you want to change career, as this will ensure that history will not repeat itself. Some career switchers do not spend enough time understanding the source of their discomfort in the workplace, and they can quickly find the same frustrations and irritations in their new career. Annette’s realisation that the disorganisation of work colleagues fuelled her work stress enabled her to seek out a career that did not involve depending on others for her success.
In the ‘My career switch ‘ workshops we have developed useful exercises which help the participants examine the root causes of their negative feelings. Conversely, it is equally important to understand what energises and excites an individual as this will lead to a fuller understanding of what the Career switcher should focus on in their next career.
Confronting the fear
‘I was concerned that I would have to start again and part of me felt that I would be wasting the time that I had spent building up a good reputation as a well-respected project manger.’
The fear of change is a very natural and human reaction. Our default position, when confronted by the prospect of change, can often be paralysis, and this results in maintaining the status quo. Think about how long you have stayed in unhealthy relationships or lived in undesirable properties. To combat this, it’s useful to break down the career change task into small but achievable steps: speak to a friend in a career that you may have an interest in, or start a career escape fund where you divert unspent coffee money. It may not sound like much, but the most important step is the first step. Once you have made a start, the momentum of change will power you forward. As Annette recognized:
‘…the best way to start a career change is to actively do something about it…nothing was going to change until I became more proactive’
In the My Career Switch workshops, we have developed helpful strategies to help you change career, like dealing with the debilitating feelings of fear.
Using transferable skills
‘’I do not feel that the experience I gained in my first career was wasted as I am using the skills I learnt in my second career.’’
Rather than seeing the career change as an abrupt change, it is useful to frame it as an evolution. This then allows us to connect the old career to the new career and view it a continuous career path, which helps us value the time and effort we spent in our first career. This can help us justify our decision to change careers as we recognise that we are bringing our own unique set of skills to the next career. In Annette’s case it clearly helped her:
‘When I experience frustrations in my current career as a primary school teacher it sometimes helps me to think of how I dealt with it in a business environment. The level of frustration and irritability as a project manager far outweighs any frustrations that I have ever encountered as a primary school teacher. But it taught me how to reset my emotions, a very useful coping mechanism for a teacher.’
The evolution mindset is also useful when dealing with change in the second career. Very few jobs remain the same and having an adaptable and flexible approach to change can help individuals cope positively when different systems of work are introduced. Such a mindset can help the career switcher maintain motivation and self -esteem, as change is not seen as a threat but an opportunity.
For more inspiration to help you change career please see more of our success stories.
There are also incredible examples of successful career change stories here