By Ann Marie Walker, Career Services Advisor/Workshop Specialist
At this point, you’ve assessed what your skills, experiences and interests are and how they fit into a career field. You’ve set goals, started to network with others, focused in on what the opportunities are in your field and are now ready to start to take action. This is the point where, many times, we let our fear of the unknown get the best of us. We have the information, we’ve made contacts and we know that this is a path we want, but breaking out of our comfort zone is not easy.
Reaffirm your path
Take time to clarify what you’ve learned by your assessments, networking and experience. Revisit your short term and long term goals. Has anything changed? Review the goals you wrote down at the beginning of the process , because the information you’ve gathered and the networking you’ve done may have had an impact on one or more of the goals. You may have found out that you aren’t interested in a certain career path or the industry you were considering may not be growing at a rate that will support your goals.
Take a quiz
I’ve found the following questions to be very helpful in decision making and taking action. Consider not only those in your present work environment but also those close to you outside of the work environment. Think of how your transition will impact those around you as you answer the questions.
Who should I tell? Who needs to know about your career transition? Are you trying to further your career in your present field or trying another? Is there someone in your networking arena that would be able to help as you start taking action?
Who do I affect? Who is going to be affected by your actions? Family members? How will your actions impact them? If you decide to go back to school, for example, what impact will that have in all areas of your life?
Who should I involve? Is there someone who is critical to the process that needs to be involved? Do you need to talk to a financial advisor? An academic advisor? A mentor? A family member?
With whom must I collaborate? Do you need support from someone? Are there people with whom you need to collaborate in order to be successful?
Whose approval do I need? Is there approval needed in order for you to proceed?
The answers to these questions will be different for each one of you depending on what you’re doing and how you approach change.
Step by Step
One of the suggestions I make all the time is to use the “chunk it” theory. Break down actions into realistic, manageable pieces. Do whatever you can to make the transition as stress-free as possible.
Take a look at your short and long term goals and put together a plan. What steps do you need to take to complete them and in what timeline can you successfully achieve the results you are looking for? Each of us will approach our “plan” differently. For some, it’s a spreadsheet complete with descriptions, dates, charts, etc. For others, it may be just a simple list of the goal, the action needed, a date (or date range) for completion and maybe a note or two.
However you choose to document your plan, please DO document it in some fashion. Things that don’t get documented, usually don’t get done. Writing goals is a form of commitment; it gives the work importance and puts your subconscious mind on task to complete what you’ve written down. Our subconscious is our “radar” that helps keep us on track and alert to our goals.
Keep the plan where you can see it to know if you’re on track and to check your progress. It’s helpful to have our goals “in view” so we can keep it in the forefront of our thinking process.
Get a Buddy
Don’t go it alone. Having a good support system is invaluable. Get a buddy (or two!) that you can share your journey with and that believe and support your dreams. Share your goals, your learnings, your plans and your fears. They will listen (remember to listen back), encourage you when things get tough (and they will), help you to keep on task and meet your timelines when you start to fall behind (and you will) and be there to celebrate your successes (the best part!).
Ready, Set, Go
You done the pre-work, made your plan, gathered your support team and you’re ready to start to make the change. Start small and pick something that will allow you to succeed quickly. It can be as simple as signing up for a class that will give you skills needed for your career or having a follow up conversation with someone who said to contact them when you’re ready to start your transition. We call it “celebrating small wins”. It helps to be able to have a series of small events that have been successful to help you gain the confidence to make the move out of your comfort zone.
Change isn’t easy but it is inevitable. You may have chosen to embrace change and go for a career transition that will allow you to “be happy in what you do”. All you need to do now is to take the first step, to start the journey and to follow your heart. For many of us, it may not be a “choice” but a reality that was forced upon us. However, we do “choose” how we respond.
The foruth and final part of the series will talk about adapting to the change once the transition has taken place.
In the meantime, start stepping!
“I would rather be on the side of those who believe anything is possible.” ~ Amelia Earhart
Ann Marie Walker is the Workshop Specialist at RochesterWorks. She is also a Coach/Consultant in Fairport, NY specializing in Personal and Team Development, Career Counseling and Motivational Speaking. A Registered Success Team Leader, Certified Professional Behavior Analyst and Qualified Administrator of the Myers Briggs Indicator. Using her extensive experience in the corporate and private business sectors, Annie works with teams and individuals to achieve their goals by developing alliances and promoting crucial conversations.