Career transitions require encouragement and a reality check
For the past 25 years, I’ve helped people achieve their career goals. Although encouragement is a big part of coaching, blowing smoke does nothing to move the dial. Each situation requires a reality check as an initial part of the process. Facing a career transition with encouragement and a reality check can lead to a very successful path forward.
Develop a strategic plan
Many of my clients have made significant transitions. Some have gone back to work after a long absence from the workforce, and others moved into completely new fields. I helped them to develop a strategic plan that got them off the bench, back in the game and moving closer to their home run. The exciting news is that with a strategy in place, many achieved their goals or even a “dream job” inside of one to two years. For those who didn’t follow the plan, the road was longer.
Take incremental steps towards an achievable goal
Holding out for a “dream job” can end up being debilitating in many ways. Rejection can quickly erode your confidence. Expecting or getting encouragement for continuing the same path forward when it hasn’t worked, time and time again, isn’t really helpful. If your finances are depleted and your confidence has been shot, cheer leading isn’t the answer. Instead, develop a plan to take incremental steps towards an achievable goal. You will build your confidence by seeing how your actions move you closer to your goal.
Clarify your goals
To get started, clarify your goals and illuminate elements that will be critical to your success, such as the work environment, support from leadership and communication styles. Having a clear picture of all of the components making up the right workplace will help you to identify appropriate targets. It may also expose some alternative career options that you had not previously considered.
Determine how competitive you’ll be in the current market
Assess your skills and experience to determine how competitive you’ll be in the current market. If there are gaps, they’ll need to get factored into your strategy for moving in a new direction. A critical point in this process is to not lose sight of your goal. The biggest changes may simply be in your path getting there and the amount of time you expect it to take. The point is to avoid holding out indefinitely for a “dream job.” Continuing to miss the mark can end up leaving you in dire financial straits.
Map out your financial status
An important step is to map out your financial status. This step can be a big reality check. As a precautionary note, there is a difference between needs and wants. Knowing exactly where you stand financially (needs) allows you to develop a realistic plan for achieving your goals (wants). So, the process for building your transition plan includes some basic questions. The most significant are “how much money do you need?” and “how soon?” It’s absolutely critical to map out what you can afford and what the impact will be if your status doesn’t change.
Don’t count on unemployment benefits to support you until you land your dream job
There are many ways to build in immediate, relevant employment that is still tied to your goals if you’re willing to create a strategy. Relying on unemployment benefits to support a complete career transition is not a good strategy. They are only meant to work as a temporary bridge, so don’t count on unemployment benefits to support you until you land your dream job. Unfortunately, many people take this route and end up in worse shape than the situation they left behind. Waiting too long to pivot can create enormous setbacks. The last position you want to be in is taking on an irrelevant job, completely outside of your goals, just to be able to pay the bills.
Establish steps that are within your control
If you’re not financially equipped to continue indefinitely as you are, it’s time to rethink things. A reality check on your finances and your marketability will be the first step in redirecting your efforts. Relying on outside circumstances to change before taking action can have adverse effects. It’s still possible to create a potentially longer but steady path that will get you to the finish line. Keep in mind, in devising your plan, it’s important to establish steps that are within your control. The longer you stay stuck or try to wait things out, the more ground you can lose.
Monitor your progress
Persistence is certainly a virtue. But doing the same thing, the same way, blaming external conditions won’t move you forward. The key to making headway is in being flexible and adjusting your plan as circumstances change. Break the plan down to specific, actionable steps and monitor your progress. This will help you see exactly where you’ve been successful and where you missed the mark. It will also allow you to make adjustments sooner. The road may appear longer, but it is typically more reliable. Careful monitoring will keep you from going too far down the wrong path.
Be willing to change what you can
Please know that I am not suggesting you abandon your dreams. I am saying that it is important to deal with the reality of your circumstances and know what you can control. Make yourself accountable for your own actions and be willing to change what you can. Seek encouragement to help you work within the reality of your situation. If this all seems overwhelming, get help from a career coach. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.