Ed’s note: This post was written by guest editor Jo Green of Jo Green Coaching.
In 2015, my career as a fundraising campaign manager came to its natural conclusion. While working for an inspirational charity met my professional and personal need to make a difference, I knew my next role had to achieve this in other ways. How to find that role was still a mystery.
Doing the following three big things, which are actually nine smaller things, led me to career coaching. They helped me create and test a successful career-change process that’s at the heart of how I work with my clients.
There’s a balance of heart and head in this process and a good measure of gut feel. Here’s what I did to switch trajectories.
1. I got clear
I listed what most mattered to me at work. My must-haves included making a difference by working in-depth with a small number of people. Organising, problem solving and the chance to continually learn new things rounded out my list. These things matched my Myers Briggs personality type; ISFJs are (amongst other things) practical and orderly and keen on getting results.
I knew how I needed to work. Now I needed to find the what. This didn’t mean chasing down specific careers; it was way too early for that. I was on the hunt for areas of interest, not actual roles.
2. I captured what I care about
For a month, I really listened for the topics that captivated me and I mapped my soapbox issues. These were the big ideas that drew me into conversations in cafes and on social media, and swelled my pile of bedside books. At the end, I had a list of five broad areas to explore.
3. I went from “what” to “why”
I asked myself, “why this and not that?” Analysing my list revealed that three of my five hottest interest areas – psychology, coaching and research all spring from the same source. I needed a career that matched my must-haves and satisfied my insatiable curiosity about what makes us tick.
4. I got out there
I needed to explore my options for a career in my key interest areas. I knew this meant emerging from the virtual rabbit hole I’d dug by “asking Google”. So I shelved my fear of looking foolish and went out into the real world. I drank tea with all kinds of open, generous and supportive people. They led me to brilliant personal insights. I gained broad, current knowledge on sectors, organisations and roles. I made new contacts, grew my networks and scored some great opportunities.
5. I ran quick tests
I explored interesting options as fully and as soon as I could. I did courses, volunteered and work shadowed. I took short-term contracts and offered coaching on a try-before-you-buy basis. I knew that making a confident career change decision depended on how well I’d tested my assumptions about what was right for me.
6. I trusted my gut feel
I kept listening to how I felt about things. Some conversations left me in a total funk, while others made me buzz with energy. Based on gut reaction, I reflected on what did or didn’t resonate with me. What made me want to run a mile from one potential role or organisation, or run home to hunt my next contact with another?
7. I got support
When I got down, I went over all the reasons why I’d committed to this crazy career change process. While I was confident that I could give in and get another fundraising job, deep down I knew that was the last thing I wanted. I kept reminding myself that despite feeling like I was wrangling a bear, I just had to keep moving towards something new.
8. I found a cheerleader
Getting emotional support early made a world of difference. I signed up my career change cheerleader by text. I chose a good friend who is also a really positive upbeat person. We don’t live in the same city but we chatted every few weeks. We celebrated wins of all sizes and she encouraged me to keep going when I got confused and frustrated.
9. I found a coach
If my career change cheerleader kept me buoyant, my coach helped me plot and navigate the course. I spent a lot of my early career change journey feeling totally at sea with my head awash with ideas.
I needed help to figure things out. My coach helped me structure the process and work out what came next. She was a great sounding board and an expert guide during my many ups and downs
So that’s how I got to be here – by being clear and curious and connected. Like most people, my career change proceeded in fits and starts. There were heaps of highs and some pretty confronting lows. I’ve learned lots about what makes me and us tick. Working through a clear career change progress gave me lots of the insight, experience and outlook I need to help other career changers make the right moves.
Need help to get clear, curious and connected? Book a chat.
Jo Green, career change coach
I know how it feels to be lost in your career. That’s why I coach, to create learnings, action and help others get stuff done. Changing your career can be lonely and confusing, so I’ll walk alongside you, be your cheerleader and help you figure out what meaningful work is for you.