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The 5 Minute Career Coach, Feb 2009 -- Career Change Uncertainty
February 01, 2009

Helping Career Changers Around The World

February 2009


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

What's in this issue

  • Quote of the day
  • Are you ready to embrace uncertainty?
  • The Career Change Question - Your Action Challenge

With very best wishes.

Quote of the Day

I love some of the quotes and aphorisms that you find in careers and self help books. So often they seem to encapsulate something I have struggled with in my own life or seen others struggle with. I hope the quotes I offer can inspire you too.

People often say that motivation doesn't last.
Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.
Zig Ziglar

Are you struggling with motivation? Are your New Year’s Resolutions already slipping?

Actually, that’s OK. It just means you are human!

Motivation is not something that in some people is switched on and in others is switched off. It is a quality that will vary enormously from day to day.

Your job is to just keep giving it a little nudge, and as Zig Ziglar suggests, little and often is the best bet. So don’t set yourself impossible targets and then beat yourself up for not achieving them.

Keep your motivation up by giving yourself credit for even the smallest steps you take towards making the changes you want in your career and life. You will probably achieve more with little and often than you will with an occasional big splurge of effort.

You can read more about career change motivation on the How To Change Careers website.

Are You Ready To Embrace Uncertainty?

One of the things that coaches seem very fond of is encouraging you to build up a bold and vivid picture of your goal. The brighter and the clearer the picture, the argument goes, the stronger will be your motivation and you will be almost ‘pulled’ towards the new life you have envisioned for yourself.

Now I don’t disagree with this point of view because there are without doubt people out there who have a Big Vision, who know exactly where they want to go in life. And they seem to steer towards this with a single-minded purpose that overcomes all obstacles.

But for many career changers, one of the biggest challenges is that they just don’t have that clarity of purpose. They are unhappy where they are but can’t see through the fog to make out any kind of Big Vision on the horizon. And then because the vision is not there as a magnet, they end up staying put. They argue to themselves ‘better the devil you know than the devil you don’t’.

But what if you were to take a few steps forward anyway, even if you don’t know where you are going? You just might find that from that new place, you begin to see things differently.

Remember how when you are driving in fog, you can emerge into the sunlight quite suddenly and unexpectedly. Think of walking in the country when you turn a bend in the path and suddenly a whole new vista appears. If you stay still, these new perspectives would never emerge.

Sometimes, when you are trying to make changes in your life and in your career, you need to commit to making a move, however uncertain you feel because it is in moving and exploring that your new career ideas will emerge from the fog.

This is a tough one because society conditions us so strongly to believe that we have to stay safe, we have to know exactly what’s coming next, we must not take risks.

Now I am not suggesting that you just resign from your job without any thought at all, but rather I am recommending that you do not wait till you have got your new career all completely mapped out in your mind before you make your move. By all means gradually develop a sense of the direction you want to go in, allow yourself to explore a range of possibilities, build a network of people who can inspire and support you. But then the important step is to be willing to take the plunge while you are still feeling uncertain about exactly how it will work out.

One of the biggest career change challenges is learning to trust that the way forward will unfold as you travel; finding a willingness to embrace the uncertainty of what lies ahead. But it can really pay dividends because it is when you have the courage to start taking those steps forward that new insights and possibilities begin to emerge.

Your general approach to change will impact on how easy or difficult you find it to embrace uncertainty. Why not take a look at the page on the How To Change Careers website on attitudes to change and use the tips if you need help with managing your approach to change?

The Career Change Question

Career change is not easy. It often requires a lot of hard and deep thinking about how you have been living your life up to now and how you would like it to be in the future.

Because I am a coach, I strongly believe in the power of asking challenging questions. Questions can help you explore where you are and where you are going.

These questions should not be given a quick and glib response, but instead you can just let them wander round your mind for a few days, or even weeks and see what answers unfold for you. They are designed to get you thinking in new ways and hopefully gain insights that may open your mind to new possibilities.

Here's my question for this month.

What was the reason you moved into your current job?

Just stop and take stock of how you got to where you are right now in your career. What made you choose your current job? Did you actually choose it or has it just sort of happened as a result of promotions you felt you couldn’t/shouldn’t turn down? How did you end up on this particular career path? Was it something you felt drawn to or were you just following the path that was expected of you? Is the really your career?

Make a note in your Career Change Project File of the thoughts that come up for you as a result of thinking about this question. Then decide what you are going to do about it – and take action.

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