Welcome friends to Episode #89 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. The average person changes their career 5-7 times in their lifetime. That’s not 5-7 “jobs”. That is 5-7 “careers”. If you’ve been thinking about changing your career, you are not alone. This past year, around 50% of workers are actively looking for a different line of work. Finding or creating work that aligns with your interests and passions can change your happiness levels, income and sense of purpose. Today we’re going to dive into a topic that I love, which is the three biggest mistakes that professionals make when they try to change careers and how to fix them ASAP.
If you’ve been struggling to change careers or feeling like you’ve lost passion for the work that you’re doing, I’m certain that a few of these mistakes may be happening right now in your own life. You might even be surprised about how simple they seem, but understanding them will give you a ton of clarity and get you moving in the right direction.
Mistake #1: Not Making Time for a Career Change
The first mistake is that you don’t make time for your career change. This happens to all of us. You get caught up in your to-do list and life and you don’t have any time to actually get off the path that you’re on. So how to fix this? Take the time every six months or year to reassess if this current career that you’re in is working for you and your life. Even if you decide that changing your careers isn’t in your future for another three months or a year, there is immense clarity in having a plan. Plus you will gain so much more gratitude for the work you have today if you know that it’s only temporary.
In this fast-paced world, we are often caught in the trap of “doing” that “not doing” can seem like the most coveted luxury. Yet, the thing we often avoid is the thing we must do first. It is harder work to think about what you want next because you often have to reflect and create more alternatives than you would have otherwise created. It often feels like a job-search or a career-change is a job in and of itself, and that wouldn’t be wrong.
Yet, when I coach my clients on what they can do to make that change, we don’t do it at the expense of their current work. Often, there is a subtlety that is missing from what they have discovered about themselves and their approach to this job change, that leaves open the possibility of careers or jobs or companies that may have otherwise seemed impossible. We also usually uncover time management and prioritization issues that are at the root of why it feels impossible to have the time to make the change they are looking to make.
If this resonates with you, you’re probably wondering, “how am I going to find time to work on this?” This is why we work on time management in my coaching because we don’t want to drop the ball as we pursue this one thing. It is entirely possible, my friends.
Mistake #2: Stopping at the thought, “What if it doesn’t work?”
The second big mistake is thinking “what if it doesn’t work?” and then just stopping there. So having that thought and not moving past it will keep you stuck in your current career because you’re uncertain of the alternative future. How do we actually fix this? Well, start by realizing that there are ways to change your career that are less risky than others. So if you don’t want to take a lot of risk, you don’t have to. You have a choice in this, you get to decide how you want this career thing to work for you. Repeat after me: I have a choice. Realize that today if that’s not the thing you want or you don’t want a big, risky career jump or move, you don’t have to make it.
Sometimes the simplest things are the hardest to believe. That’s where I come in. Often, the easiest job changes come to my clients after they stop focusing on the risk, and get coached instead on focusing on their choice in deciding what they want and creating options to choose from.
We forget that while there are infinite possibilities for what we can get paid to do in this world, there are also zero possibilities if we don’t ever go past that initial thought, “what if it doesn’t work?”
Mistake #3: Thinking You Don’t Have Anything to Offer
The third biggest mistake that professionals make when they are trying to change careers is thinking that they don’t have anything to offer. They think they don’t know what people will pay them for other than the thing they’re actually doing right now, which is not the job they want to move into. So how do we fix this?
You actually have to realize that you’re here for a reason. You’re on this planet on purpose. And when you start to identify your strengths, the things you’re good at, and you marry that with what the market needs, you’re going to find that next career. The thing that people will actually pay you for, even though you would probably do it for free.
The qualifier is that as you start to focus on a career change, you are complete, worthy, whole and interesting people outside of your work. The paradox is that once you feel that you are more than just your work, it’s easier to find the work that you’re passionate about and wanting to do in this world. I remember when I was making a career change, I felt this shift for myself – as well as seeing that people wanted to pay me to solve a problem. It was the best of both worlds. I am whole and complete, and people pay me to solve a hard problem that I want to solve.
There’s a fallacy in thinking that there will no longer be problems when you make a career shift. It’s more that you want to solve these problems. Some lines of work are more suited to you than others and that is ok. Some people want to have lots of people that report into them each day and deal with large numbers of people with larger platforms or audiences. Others might want to go deeper in a subject or field, or want to work with fewer people. This isn’t a problem. When we align though, our natural inclination and our interests with the fuel of our own hard work, we don’t mind working harder doing work we find more meaningful. We feel like it’s easier because we’re doing hard work with a sense of ease or relaxation because we have purpose and interest. This is an amazing thing to feel and I encourage you all to find this place.
So can you see now how having a thriving career can actually give you so much peace of mind?
You can start to see that there are quite a few shifts and patterns of thinking that have to be adopted on this journey towards making a living doing what you love. I know that people struggle with identifying their zone of genius, the place where they have not just high competency but also a high passion or interest. They often feel that the places that would value the work they want to do aren’t the right cultural fit or don’t have the lifestyle they are offering.
Yet, I know that humans tend to focus on the negative more than the positive so we tend to see what doesn’t work. What that does is make any kind of change feel extremely risky, prone to error and having a low chance of succeeding. In order for us to overcome that thought, because it isn’t a fact – it’s really a thought – we have to actually lay out a plan that covers all the alternatives, which is what I teach in my coaching and career course.
For example, it’s not that you don’t have strengths that you can utilize, it’s that you don’t realize that you will create that job from your own thinking. You have to first believe that you can create work that utilizes your strengths. If you believe that you’ll go out and discover your strengths. Then you’ll lean into your strengths and spend time thinking, learning, and building upon your strengths to create the work where your gifts will be utilized. It may not be the first job or idea that comes to mind or into your world, but the world is bigger than we realize.
There is a need for interested, passionate people who want to do great work in the world. As you think about your next career or what you would like to offer to the world, I want you to focus on seeing this career change as a journey, because it is. There’s a reason why you’re looking to make a move, whether it is more meaningful work, more flexibility, more pay or decreased burnout.
All of these are both valid and worthy to pursue, yet can sometimes feel like we’re asking for too much.
We should be happy with what we’ve got, right?
This is true.
Yet, for us to think more expansively, we have to also hold the belief that maybe life can be even better than it is today. Our work, relationships, families, health and wealth – these can all be improved.
What if that were also true?
What work then, would you pursue?
Think about that this week and if you’re struggling with figuring out your next steps, I have a free career change guide for you. Just go to www.mayempson.com/career to download the ultimate career change starter kit and you will be well on your way to your next career.
If this topic resonates with you and you want to see transformational results in your life, you’ll love coaching. Getting coached consistently is the spark that will light the fire of inspiration to make the change you’re looking to make. It is the first step in creating clarity, making a massive shift and moving obstacles out of your way so you can move forward. You can go to www.mayempson.com/contact to learn more.