In my previous article: First Steps Towards Career Transition, I touched on the importance of having a clear goal and a solid plan to achieve it. In this piece, I’d like to delve a little deeper and look at the early planning stages involved in career transition.
“A goal without a plan is a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
We all understand the importance of planning. It’s one of those things we know we should do, but along with eating healthily and going to the gym, it tends to get put on the backburner in favour of more relaxing activities.
We’re fickle creatures and we’re oh, so tired after a hard day at work. Netflix and a glass of wine beckons us from the couch…
Your workday wouldn’t be so hard, however, if you incorporated a bit of planning into your schedule.
Planning gives you control over your destiny and keeps you moving forwards in life. It’s time to stop daydreaming about that amazing job and make it part of your future.
How well do you know yourself?
When was the last time you sat down and really thought about what success would look like to you and how much work you are prepared to put in to get there?
“Stop hating your job. Discover what you really want to do with your life and start doing it.”
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
I’m sure you all remember being asked this question when you were young. There was always that one kid who’d wanted to be a vet since they were in nappies, but for most of us, it was a tough question to answer (and still is).
It took three months for me to be clear on what my future career transition would look like. Even when I’d put some wheels in motion, I kept looking over my shoulder at comfortable corporate roles, wondering if I’d made the right decision.
What Do You Have to Offer?
In my article: Leverage Your Strengths - Know Your Weaknesses, I discussed the importance of being aware of what you have to offer. If you don’t know what your abilities are, how can you expect to identify any skill gaps that need filling?
“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.”
One way of identifying these skills gaps is to complete a SWOT analysis about yourself.
It also helps to ask people in your circle for their input too. Sometimes our opinion of ourselves can be skewed (it’s usually a bit on the modest side), so checking in with trusted family, friends, and colleagues, will produce a more balanced view.
In addition to the SWOT analysis, my clients can use tools like career drivers, self-discovery exercises and psychometrics (such as DISC or Myers Briggs) to help them to get to know themselves better and support their thinking about whatever career is next.
“Discovering who you are today is the first step to being who you will be tomorrow.”
When starting the voyage of self-discovery with my clients, I find the ancient Japanese philosophy of Ikigai is a good way to stimulate their thinking.
Ikigai roughly translates to your overall ‘reason for being’, but in the UK, we tend to use this method of self-discovery to help us find our career ‘sweet spot’.
Ikigai focusses on:
What you love.
What you are good at.
What the world needs.
What you can get paid for.
These headings are placed in a Venn diagram and the intersection where these 4 areas overlap, will mark your ikigai.
Source: Jason R. Waller
Once I’ve introduced the above concept to my clients, using the results of their psychometrics, we can adapt it to focus on areas more pertinent to them and their transition.
Having their own, tailored Venn diagram of self-discovery will assist them in understanding what is important to them and ultimately, give them clarity around what they want to do.
I honestly think I’m in my career ‘sweet spot’ right now. I love the variety of the work that I do, the people I meet and the fact that I get to support other leaders to be the best version of themselves. Not having a boss or having to deal with office politics is a big plus too.
Had I chosen another position in corporate instead of transitioning, I may never have experienced my own career ‘ikigai’ and had I not put the work into planning beforehand, I wouldn’t have transitioned at all.
“Don’t be upset by the results you didn’t get with the work you didn’t do.”
It’s at the planning stages in any transition that we ask questions like:
How far am I prepared to travel for a new role?
What sectors do I want to work in?
What are my target earnings?
It’s a good idea to answer questions like these now, to ensure expectations are covered in your overall career goal and that they are realistic to begin with.
Having an unrealistic target can zap your enthusiasm and make you feel like you’re not achieving anything. The whole point of planning is to keep moving forwards and being clear about the specifics, will ensure that your ‘dream career’ does tick boxes that are important to you.
The Customer Is Key
If you are planning on starting your own business, a good understanding of your prospective target market is key. When you run your own company, customers become the centre of all your decision making.
“Everything starts with the customer.”
Who will they be? What will they want? How will you communicate with them? How will you convert them from prospects to clients?
Why not get out there? Meet your potential audience, figure out what makes them tick and use this knowledge to create an avatar of your ideal customer.
Running A Business
Do you know how to do this?
I mean, I understood some of what was required of me, but it was still an eye-opener.
If you are starting your own business, you not only have to develop the skills and credibility to offer a product or service, but you also have to learn how to run a business.
Customer service, marketing, sales, financial literacy…it’s a long list. If any of these topics make you squirm, you could always factor some business courses into your plans.
“Without business skills, your passion or hobby will not translate into money in your pocket.”
Try Before You Buy
Once you’re comfortable with the changes you’d like to make, it’s time to take your plan for a whirl.
“Test drive the life you want to live.”
You can find people who already do the work, ask them lots of questions and find opportunities to gain industry experience through them. It might sound like a lot of work, but it’s better you find out the move isn’t for you whilst you’re in the planning stages, instead of a couple of years down the line.
There’s no shame in finding out a particular career isn’t for you; it happens. You’d be amazed by how often a person’s goal changes in transition. The important thing is you have acknowledged that you NEED a change, you may just have to take things back a step first and reassess.
As Thomas Edison said:
“I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
So, you’ve taken your plan for a test drive and you’re happy with the results. Then what?
Now, is the time to prepare for the move.
What do you need to have in place before you set off on your career journey?
Personal Brand: As part of your transition, you are going to be ‘putting yourself out there’ a lot. First impressions count, so it’s important to ensure that you are giving the right impression from the get-go. A good example of updating your personal brand would be to alter your social media accounts, websites, CV, and cover letters to reflect the career you want, not the career you have.
Qualifications/Experience: If you know extra learning will be part of your journey, why not get started? The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll get there.
Contacts/Networking: Putting the feelers out on platforms like LinkedIn is a great start. It helps you connect with people in your desired sector, and you could potentially gain some experience through them. Sure, some will see you as competition, but others will embrace you as a great addition to their community.
One step at a time
As with all plans, there is an order to doing things; you wouldn’t start a Business Coaching company, for example, without first learning to be a coach.
I’m sure all of you will all have worked with business plans or led projects before; this situation isn’t really any different. You’re taking the same methodology and applying it to yourself – YOU are the project.
Like with any plan, a career transition should be broken down into stages. You must be clear on what needs to be done and by when and know who will support you at each stage of your journey. This order of events then needs to be followed, so it’s important you set clear markers along the way, to indicate when you have achieved one stage and can move on to the next.
Out of the Starting Blocks
Once my clients have their agreed plan in place and they are working through it, we regularly check-in to ensure that their goal is still ‘their goal’.
A lot of knowledge and clarity is gained during a transition and clients sometimes have a change of heart. They need to be close enough to their plans to easily add to, change or remove an objective, according to the circumstances. It’s all part of them connecting to who they are and becoming clearer on what they want to do.
“Accountability is the glue that commitment to the result.”
There’s that word again: accountability.
How is your self-control?
One of the hardest parts of executing any career plan is sticking to it. Life always gets in the way, and it takes a huge amount of willpower to hold yourself accountable and remain focused.
In fact, I have clients who use my services just to hold them accountable to achieving their goals.
Do you think that you would benefit from this support too?
During my career transition, I found my coach’s balance of support/challenge and motivation to be just the right mix to help me fulfil my career ambitions.
Why not get in touch and see if I can help you fulfil yours?
Let me help you to be all you can be, in 2022.