Timing Your Career Change

There are different ways to get it right

Career Change Timing

Timing a career change can be tricky. And I don’t just mean whether you do it this year or next, I mean managing the timing of the overall career change process too.

Taking the first step

As a coach, I often find myself encouraging clients to take action, even tiny little steps, so that they can begin to create a sense of momentum that will move them towards a career change.

In most cases this is the best approach, because probably the biggest barrier of all to any career change is inertia. It is just so easy to stay stuck and to feel that there is no way out of the career misery you find yourself in. Somehow you find you have struggled through another day, week or month and still nothing has changed.

Taking personal responsibility for making change happen is a vital step – if you do nothing, nothing will change. Obvious really, but so many people do nothing and still expect that they will wake up one day to find a magic transformation has occurred.

So the first step in timing your career change is always to get into the driving seat and start on the personal and career exploration that is necessary to make a really well considered career change. (Read more about getting started here).

No perfect time

And if you are still hesitating because you are waiting for everything to be ‘just right’ for you to make that change you are planning, forget it!  No, I don’t mean forget your career change, I mean forget waiting for the perfect moment.

Go on, be honest with yourself…you are using the wait for the perfect moment as an excuse for putting off actually doing anything, aren’t you? That perfect moment does not exist so you might as well just get on with it!

Uneven progress

Ah, but perhaps you have started to take action – that’s great! But this does not mean that once you have got moving, your progress will always be a steady drive. The speed and timing of your career change journey will fluctuate as you go along – and that’s fine! There may be moments when you have to take your foot off the gas and let the career change process coast for a while.

This can be often be a useful tactic when you have done quite a bit of research into understanding yourself but you are still waiting for the career ideas that will really inspire you to emerge.

Green Shoots

Maybe that is when you need to be patient and let things gently ‘marinate’ in your mind – rather like the dormant bulbs and plants in the ground over winter. Then it may just take a ray of sunshine (a chance encounter with someone inspiring, a book pressed into your hands by a friend) to get the plant – or your new career identity – to begin to grow. The timing of your career change has to be right, but that does not mean forced.  Patience, as they say, is a virtue!

Creative breakthroughs

Truly creative breakthroughs often come in this quiet ‘down time’, when you have stopped actively working on the problem and just leave your intuition (with maybe a gentle nudge from some unlikely quarter) to come up with the answers.

So if you feel that your career change plans are getting stuck or perhaps have not even got off the starting blocks yet, remember that the timing of the process may well not be even.

The way to free things up is to decide whether now is a moment for action or a moment for reflecting. Maybe you have reached a moment when you need to relax the timing and give yourself permission to take a breather and wait and see what emerges. Just take care that your ‘down time’ doesn’t turn into weeks and months!

And during the pause in the timing of your career change, make sure that you capture any career ideas that emerge for you in your Career Ideas Log ready to look at together with all the other information you have been collecting about yourself.

What do you think?

  • Are you feeling stuck because you are waiting for the perfect moment?
  • Are you making progress by taking small but regular steps?
  • Have you experienced creative breakthroughs when you stop striving and relax?

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About the author

Amy Thomas

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