How to start PLANNING a career change

In my last blog, I suggested that the ‘new year, new you’ ideology might benefit marketers more than it will you and your career. Talking of marketing hype, I’m writing this on 20 January, aka ‘Blue Monday’ 2020. Usually the third Monday in January, Blue Monday has no science behind it, just a day dreamt up by the marketing department of Sky Travel. Read my recent post on this here.

What a bizarre time we’re in when one marketing idea is to suggest that the new year is an optimum time for a ‘new you’, whilst another tells us this coincides with the most depressing time of the year. Make of that what you will. 

Whilst there’s no truth in Blue Monday, there is a medical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the symptoms of which include: persistent low mood; loss of pleasure in everyday activities; feelings of despair or worthlessness; irritability; lethargy and weight gain. For some, the symptoms can be severe and a significant impact on day-to-day actives. If this resonates with you then check out this NHS link and visit your GP if you’re still concerned. 

The suggestion I made towards the end of part one was to use the first quarter of the new year as a time for reflection and for planning change. Planning is a vital part of any project, with Kerr Inkson in his book Understanding Careers, defining planning as: ‘determining goals and deciding how they are to be approached.’ 

Planning is something we each do, often for key moments in our lives such as moving house or relocating, getting hitched or starting a family. As Inkson suggests, we determine our goals and plan how best to approach them to achieve the goal we’ve set.

Take a moment to think of a life plan that you last made and you will recall that it most likely began with a vision or an outcome. Your career plan can be harder to visualise – other than wanting a happy, successful career with a good work-life balance – and so it’s important to know where best to start. This is where time spent with a career coach can prove really useful and assist you to find clear focus and direction of travel in your career journey. 

In my coaching sessions I encourage clients to undergo a little ‘career therapy’ where we discuss what’s prompting a change and what they hope to achieve and how they hope to to feel post-career change. 

In order to make an important life change it’s important to have a plan, so here’s my four stages of planning for career change: 

 – self assessment and reflection: identifying passions, key skills and strengths

 – exploring: researching and identifying your preferred options and opportunities

 – decision making: which is your preferred career direction

 – take action: set to work in achieving your chosen career goal

There’s nothing particularly ‘rocket science’ about the stages above, they will be similar to other life plans, such as a holiday: decide on the kind of holiday you want, where and who with; research online or via a travel agent, make your preferred choice and book it. The anticipation of a holiday is a lovely, exciting feeling; and so it should be with a career change. 

Often the results of self assessment and reflection can surprise clients as some ideas and passions are deep-rooted, perhaps from childhood, or because of a role model in their life they associate with their preferred career choice. We will consider their key skills, experiences and qualifications they need to attain or are transferable, along with personal values and goals. 

Once you’re starting to develop your career plan you can ask people around you to help you identify your key skills and strengths and share your ideas with them. This period of reflection and affirmation is another vital step to making successful change. It also moves us nicely into our next blog in this series, the exploration stage.

Still wondering what to do on these cold, dark winter nights? Well, you might want to use the above as an exercise to explore your own career change. If so then you might want to write down your key skills and strengths, using close friends, partners or family to give you their thoughts. 

If you’re reading this and are interested in how I can help you make a successful change in your career then please do contact me via my website or my LinkedIn page and we can have a conversation about your career.

Like this article? Share it with your friends.