Welcome friends to Episode #94 of the Own Your Best Life Podcast. Something happens when we hit our mid-30’s, 40’s and 50’s. We start to think about the next chapter of our lives and our careers. We wonder what we should do next and if it’s too late to do something else with our time. Maybe it’s because you’re experiencing burnout or maybe it’s because you’re bored and lost your passion. Either way, it can feel daunting to change your work when you’re not sure what’s next. Today, we’re going to talk about how to think about your next career and how to start your next chapter.
The other day I was organizing my house and was tackling what I felt were the tough areas. The art area and my daughter’s rooms. What I realized was that it wasn’t that kids are inherently messy, they lacked structure. They’ve outgrown certain parts of their room and the ways they’ve done things. They didn’t know where to store all these different toys and books that were now a part of their life. We hadn’t reorganized their rooms and we made do with the mess. It wasn’t a problem, but messiness comes from a lack of being organized. We don’t know where things go or where things belong as things change. The same goes for our work.
When we look at an entirely new career, it feels like a giant open question mark. Something so large that it feels like a big looming decision that we don’t want to make. So we put it off. We keep thinking about how scary it feels to do something new and different and since we don’t like feeling scared, we would rather feel safe. Safe in our current jobs and worlds.
Yet, most people are disengaged with their work. A Gallup survey showed that number as upwards of 60%. If you’re feeling ready to shift careers, you’re in the 60%. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we are disengaged because we are so busy filling up our days or weekends with distractions to make ourselves feel better for working so much or so long. We also feel bad that we aren’t happier because we “should” be happier. We have a good job and it pays the bills so why not.
But the call of your next career isn’t about getting to “good”. It becomes about something more.
Here’s how to know if you’re ready to change careers:
- Do you desire to find work that gives you a sense of meaning and purpose, and you aren’t finding it in your current work today?
- Do you want a different kind of lifestyle that is structurally not found in the work you currently do?
- Do you want to grow and learn something entirely different?
- Do you feel like you are chronically stressed or exhausted from your work?
If you are answering yes to most of these questions, then it’s likely time that you think about making a switch.
What if I don’t know what I want to do?
The funny thing about making the change is that people think that they have to know exactly what they want before contemplating the career change. I remember when I started my career change, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I just knew I wanted something different.
Whether you realize it or not – that is a powerful decision. That alone is enough to get started.
Not knowing what to do is overwhelming. When we get overwhelmed, our brains tend to freeze in two different ways. We either enter into hypoactive states like analysis paralysis or hyperactive states where we overwork ourselves. Neither one is optimal for decision making.
Neither one actually moves you forward efficiently and productively.
This is why getting help and taking the first step can help us move out of overwhelm. When my clients ask me this question, we solve it by deciding what to do. It doesn’t mean they immediately have the answer, but they know what to do next to start discovering, creating and deciding on the next chapter in their life.
We do this from a place of resourcefulness and calm that IS optimal for our decision-making faculties. It is a fallacy that you have to be stressed to get yourself into an optimal situation to make a decision – you do have to realize the consequences of the choices you make in staying at your current job or lack of job.
That is different from feeling stressed, yet many people operate their entire lives thinking that they work best when stressed. Question that thought and line of thinking because it is keeping you from a healthy way of working and making decisions. One without stress and fear driving you constantly.
What if I am feeling like it’s too late?
It never feels like a good time to make a change, especially when we feel time is not on our side. Many times, we don’t do what we want to do because we feel it’s too late. We think that too many years have gone by and we don’t want to start over.
I remember this one quote that I repeated in my head when I began my career change. “The time will pass anyways.” What are you waiting for if you actually know that you want to make a change? More time? That’s not going to happen. Time is a feeling and a mindset.
Through the decisions you make you create an abundance of time. Everyone has 24 hours a day and yet there are drastically different ways to approach these 24 hours – and dramatically different results from the way we use our 24 hours. Our relationship with time is going to affect how we feel about how much time we have in our lives and whether it’s enough for what we want to do next – whether it’s a 2 hour activity or a 5 year activity.
There are people who are in their 30’s and feel like it’s too late to make a change. There are people in their 60’s who feel like now is the perfect time. It’s not about the time. It’s about our relationship with time and what we want to do in our time.
The more appropriate question to ask yourself: how do I want to spend my time?
What if I’m not going to make enough money?
I love the topic of money because it brings up so many concerns for people. Which is also why it’s a huge opportunity for even more abundance in your life. If you worry about money and it’s a constant underlying concern, this idea of enough money is going to be present when you think about your next career.
Whether you realize it or not, money controls many aspects of your life. It controls the people we spend time with, the way we spend time, the way we treat others who have less or more and the decisions we make about the work we do in our lives.
When we follow the money, we admittedly prioritize money over other things. We may even know that we do this intentionally so that we can build a sense of safety and security in our lives. This isn’t wrong, but changing careers may come from a different place than safety and security. Figuring out what you want to do next usually follows a progression of moving from safety and security to growth and impact. We want to contribute more of ourselves or learn more about who we are and what we want to do through the work we do in our lives.
It’s not just about the money anymore. Really consider if you would be willing to make the same or less money and why. This doesn’t mean it will happen, but it does mean that you know what you value right now more than money and why. When I work with clients on this part, money can feel like a real sticking point. A place of fear and insecurity that isn’t rational.
There is often a lot of work to do to hold the belief that they already have enough money and more than enough money. That work is important though, because it is often the crux of why they aren’t making changes quickly or at the speed they desire. Self-discovery and creating our next identity can be rooted in fear and when we work from that place, we create versions of ourselves that aren’t truly inspiring enough to make a change in our lives – which is why we stay stuck exactly where we are with a lot of thoughts and ideas but no real decision.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for us to work on our money beliefs.
How do I know when to quit my job?
The willingness to start over can either be a feeling of dread or a feeling of elation. I work with my clients to really understand how to watch their brains as they do anything hard, new or different because this will determine their ability to achieve the results they desire.
The right time to quit a job or start a new one is not a one-size-fits all. There are a set of several questions that must be answered and criteria to help determine when it’s right. There are also people who have different risk tolerances and therefore different decision-making approaches. Some people like to just burn the boats and make the decision to leave a job before they have the next one. Some people know they must do that otherwise they will never leave.
Others don’t think this and they don’t have to quit their jobs in order to find more fulfillment in their lives. Either way, it will change for you depending on the situation you are currently facing in your life. You will want to take into consideration your current lifestyle and the changes you will make if you leave a job to start something new. You will also want to take into account how much money, time, and the skills you need to start something new, if any.
I work with my clients to make shifts that don’t feel overwhelming and scary, rather weirdly obvious and exciting. Obvious decisions are the best ones. They are the natural decision that will create the most momentum for you yet and don’t feel scary because you see exactly why it would work. We build a core understanding of your strengths, values and desires for what you want next and a personal strategy map that takes into account multiple possibilities for what’s next so that the decision of what next isn’t because that’s the only one, but because it’s the obvious one based on the criteria defined.
This is an art and a science but one that creates clarity when we need it the most. Making the leap from one line of work to another can feel ambiguous and uncertain and we need to create clarity in order for us to make the move and have that fulfilling next chapter. That clarity is out there and exists.
Your next career is an exciting place to be. Whether you are in your first career change or your 3rd or 4th, now is the best time to start. You’re just beginning your journey.
If you want to learn more about these topics, and how you can experience this in your own life, schedule a free coaching consultation today.
No matter what success means to you, coaching will help you get there faster and more sustainably. We work towards results in every area of your life. Time management – spending more time on what’s most important. Creating a mix of work and personal life that is sustainable. Career and Business – deciding what you want next and how to achieve it – whether it is more flexibility, purpose or deciding to start your own business. Energy management – improving your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health so you build confidence in designing your own life. If you’ve got some changes you want support in thinking through, book your free consultation at www.mayempson.com/contact today.