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Career Change Motivation. The 5 Minute Career Coach February 2010
February 01, 2010

Helping Career Changers Around The World

February 2010


Welcome to the February edition of The 5 Minute Career Coach!

What’s in this Issue

Are you struggling with your New Year’s Resolution to change careers? Is your motivation fading already? Don’t worry - this edition of the 5 Minute Career Coach will give you lots of ideas and encouragement to get you back on track!

With best wishes

Quote of the Day

"The most successful people make the most mistakes"

This might well seem paradoxical, but the message is that...

a) mistakes are OK – the best people make them and still come up smiling

b) success doesn’t come at the click of a finger. You have to work at it and you will probably get things wrong quite a few times. But with perseverance, it will come right in the end.

So go ahead, get it wrong. Don’t worry about maybe making a mistake. If you do, just remember that it is the first step on the way to getting it right!

Career Change Motivation

As we struggle through the gloomy winter months here in the northern hemisphere, it is easy for the determination that you felt when you set your New Year’s Resolution to change careers to begin to waver.

February is always a difficult month for keeping your mood positive, so if you are feeling disappointed that your motivation is trickling away, don’t beat yourself up. The weather is not exactly helping!

What is motivation?
But what is this thing called motivation and how come it is so unpredictable? It is not just the weather that affects it.

Motivation is an inner energy or drive that pushes you forwards into action. Often it is the prospect of an exciting goal that drives it, but sometimes, even when the goal is appealing, there is still an inner voice that holds you back, the voice that says 'yes, but...'

Try completing the following several times:

I want to change career, but...

What comes up for you?

For many people, it all boils down to fear. This is what is eating away at their motivation and stopping them from moving forwards.

Fear of what?
What are you actually afraid of? Go on – make a list. Let your imagination run riot for a while. It can be quite therapeutic to let all those unspoken fears out of your head and on to paper. Worst case scenario? You give up your job but your new career doesn’t work out so you end up unemployed, nobody wants to employ you ever again, you lose your house, your partner abandons you and takes the kids, you run up debts you can’t pay off and end up living on the streets or in prison!

Have you been down that kind of route before?

Now seriously – how likely is that? Would you really just sit by passively and let yourself spiral into that place? I suspect your survival instinct would kick in well before then.

We all have these fantasies of disastrous outcomes, but in reality, they are extremely unlikely to happen.

So what do you do to quieten that 'yes, but...' voice?

Try this tactic.

Your 'stuck self'
Acknowledge that there’s part of you that is resisting change, that’s standing in the way. Start by visualising that part of you. Make it as real as you can. What does it look like? Is it a person or being or something more abstract?

Then strike up a conversation with this 'stuck part' of you. Ask questions like:

  • What are you afraid of?
  • What are you trying to protect me from?
  • What would help you let me get moving again?

Allow yourself to have a dialogue in which you are gently curious and supportive of your 'stuck self' and see what emerges. Negotiate a way forward in which you acknowledge that they are trying to help but actually they are holding you back from becoming the best you could be. Bottom line? Who is in charge – you or the voice?

Pushing past the fear
I have recently finished working with a client who was struggling with making the decision to leave a job she really hated. She had all those fears and anxieties going on in her head, holding her back. Eventually she recognised that these fears were just keeping her stuck in a job that was draining all the life from her.

In the end, it was a matter of pushing past the fearful voice, being brave and taking charge of her career direction.

This is what she wrote at the end of her action plan:

"I feel nervous to think about not having a job but I feel strong and positive when I think about taking a stance and making a move. Why not?? Why not stand up for what I want?? I have years ahead of working life, why I am staying in something which I do not see will have any role in that in the future. I want to be brave so that when my kids are growing up and having to make tough decisions they have an example to follow! My mom was brave and things worked out! I need to do the same! Change can only happen if you do something, set the chain in motion. Otherwise there is just stagnation."

Now that’s what I call inspiring! Hope it inspires you too!

You can read more about keeping motivated on the How To Change Careers website.

The Career Change Question

Challenging questions are a key tool in helping to create change.

Each month I offer you a question to think about. Just let the question wander round your mind for a few days, or even weeks and see what answers unfold for you. The questions are designed to get you thinking in new ways and hopefully gain insights that may open your mind to new possibilities for you career and for your life.

When have I felt really motivated?

Reflecting on a time when you were really motivated can be a useful strategy when you are feeling down. Remind yourself of how you felt, revisit that situation when your energy levels were really high, connect with the sense of ease when everything just flowed.

The combination of quietening the negative voice in your head (see article above) and remembering that you have felt strongly motivated in the past (so you can certainly feel so again), is a great way of shifting the February blues.

Recommended Resources

How many of you have come across the TED website?

This really is the internet at its best.

It is a brilliant resource which I dip into regularly. Packed with inspiring talks on topics ranging from technology to entertainment, design to global issues, comedy to the downright weird.

Most of the video clips are under 20 minutes so they are just right when you need to take a break between wading through emails or struggling with a report. And I can guarantee you will come away with your mind opened, your preconceptions challenged and your imagination fired.

Let me lead you to one particular talk to give you a flavour of what the site offers.

Steve Jobs, CEO (once again) of Apple giving the Stanford University commencement address – How to live before you die

I was going to summarise his three key messages here, but I think I will let his words speak for themselves.

Go and get yourself a coffee, OK and a chocolate biscuit, and sit back for 15 minutes of inspiration on how to live before you die.


More recommendations
If you would like to see more recommendations for books and similar resources, follow the link to the Career Change Books page of the How To Change Careers website. Do keep popping back to it as I am adding to it all the time.

And if there are books and resources that have inspired you and that you would like to recommend, there is a place for you to do so on that page.

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