How To Change Careers When You’re Feeling Stuck

career coach, career coaching, executive coaching, group coaching, leadership coaching, meditation exercises, personal branding

Oh, those days when you’re doing a task you’ve done every day since you started your job. Then you look out the window (If you have one in your office) and think “Is this it?”.

But you get back on with your work because there’s no alternative, right?

Is it right? Or do you just need a gentle nudge towards action; a little bit of knowledge about how to change careers. 

You only need that tiny little starter pack that shows you the first step that leads to the next. Before you know it, you’re a thought leader in a whole new industry, running your own company and calling all the shots.

Whoa! I got a little carried away there for an opening paragraph! 

Or did I?

Dude, I Just Want To Know How To Change Careers

Oh, changing careers is easy, believe me. Once you’ve got a clear vision of what you want to do, you just go and grab the bull by the horns.

It’s the obstacles that stand in your way before you get that clear vision that are the hard part.

What do you have right now? If you created a folder and gave it the title ‘My Career Change’ what would be in it right now?

I mean, you’ve come to read this article about changing careers so you’ve obviously started the process already. That’s step 1, you are aware that you need to do something. Put that in the folder (it’s a metaphorical folder, in case you were reaching for one).

What else do you know? 

  • Do you have any idea what a better career would look like for you? 
  • What do you think should happen next, now that you know you need to do something? 
  • What do you know will happen next, based on past experience?

I’m leading you into a thought process here. You have, more than likely, had the feeling that you want to change your career many times before, whether consciously or not. But something has always stopped you from moving any further with that thought.

This is the first barrier, but also step 2 in your career change.

Yes, ‘My Career Change’ is a thing for you now. It’s a big flashy title on the front wall of a cinema. You’ve bought the ticket and you’re finding your seat.

But you still don’t need that folder, unless you really want one now, nobody’s stopping you.

How Do You Break Through The ‘I Can’t Do Anything Else’ Barrier?

This is a common first stumbling block for career changers like you. You’ve earned qualifications, you’ve accumulated years of experience and contacts in your current work, you’ve got a great salary that keeps coming in every month without fail.

How can you leave all that behind for something you’re starting from scratch?

Let’s just assume you are starting from scratch, even though that is never the case; you will always have transferable skills.

There are two options here:

  • You give in to your assumption that you can’t do anything else and slam the door shut. (*whispers* it’ll be open again soon and you’ll be back to square one.)
  • You indulge your curiosity and just try something different.

The key word here is ‘try’. You don’t have to write your resignation letter tomorrow and stare at the prospect of no income in a couple of months time. You can test the waters first.

Guess what happens when you test the waters? 

You surprise yourself.

You find that you can do it. You find that you really enjoy it. Sometimes you find that you really don’t enjoy it and that’s totally valuable too!

I just want you to open your mind to the idea of trying things out and moving away from the thought that you are risking everything.

You’re really not.

How do you start testing the waters? You look for the people that are associated with what you want to test. 

Don’t Look For The Jobs, Look For The People

Finding your perfect career isn’t something you just do. There are some key practices that will draw it out of you and we’ll have a look at these later. 

But the shortcut, for now… just to get the ball rolling, is to make connections with people that are doing things that are very different to what you’re doing. 

Think about fantasy roles (keep it clean!) that really excite you. Seek out people that are actually in these roles and talk to them. People love to talk about what they do if they love what they do. If you don’t love what you do, then you might not realise this.

Reaching out to these people does three amazing things:

  • You find out a LOT about a field that interests you.
  • You make connections to potential future career opportunities.
  • You start thinking very differently about your world. You know, the world that revolves around you. We all have one and we have no idea what happens outside it. Once you start finding out about the world outside yours, it starts to change the way you think and helps break down barriers.

If the thought of doing this is daunting, make it as easy as possible. Just hit them up on LinkedIn, make it clear why you are getting in touch and ask them if they wouldn’t mind answering some questions you have. 

If you want to move it to the next level of a call, or even a meet-up, that’s up to you, but you will get a lot more out of it when you can see or hear their passion for their work.

Find What You Want Your Life To Be Like

How do you find the perfect career? You find what you want your life to be like and work backwards.

That’s life, not career

Your career will fit into this vision, but it won’t be what forms it. There is no ‘living to work’ or ‘working to live’ here, the aim is to be working and living in perfect harmony.

I won’t be taking you through the process of discovering what you want your life to be like right here. You can use our free Perfect Day Exercise to help you do that, as well as compare it to your career and life now and start to bridge the gap.

That bridge has a purpose. There is a wide gap between where you want to be and where you are now. You can’t just jump it in one leap, you need to build the bridge and then cross it step-by-step to get to the other side.

But the whole time you’re doing this, you have a glorious view of what is on the other side! 

This fits nicely into what we were talking about before around finding the people that are doing what you want. Don’t just restrict yourself to people that are doing the career you want, also look for the people that are living the way you want to live. 

Surround yourself with people that are living a life, and enjoying a career, that you want. You will absorb some of what they have by osmosis!

Get To Know Yourself To Help Make The Right Career Change

How do you build that bridge we talked about just a moment ago? By understanding yourself fully.

You think you know yourself pretty well, right? 

Let me set out a scenario that I often find myself in. I meet up with a friend for a catch-up and we have a chat about what we’ve been up to, what has annoyed us, what has made us happy.

Then they come out with the show-stopper phrase: “Ha, that’s such a typical thing for you to do.”

Wait, was it? I didn’t think it was.

Then I think back to other, similar, situations and I realise they are right. That is quite typical of me.

You might not know yourself as well as you think.

A great starting point is to write your autobiography. It’s not as daunting as you think. It’s just a brief story of your life so far, but it will help you extract a lot of information from your long-forgotten memories.

Discovering what your true values are is what we would do next. This lets you know what is really important to you. If you know your values, then you can use them to help you make the decisions that get you to where you want to be.

Knowing yourself is also about knowing what things hold you back.

Know The Barriers You Need To Overcome.

Perhaps you know your barriers quite intimately, perhaps you don’t know them at all. 

Everyone has barriers to a certain degree, sometimes they can be knocked down, sometimes they just need managing.

Either way, it’s time to address them once and for all otherwise they’ll keep chipping away at your determination and enthusiasm to change your career.

You don’t need that.

Your barriers are the things that stop you from becoming what you know you could be. The fear of failure, the overwhelm at working towards a big goal, the procrastination, the aversion to leaving your comfort zone, feeling like an imposter.

If you want to know what the biggest secret behind successfully changing careers is; it’s taking your barriers out of the equation.

That’s easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to be a big hairy thing that you have to get done (and, ironically, get overwhelmed by!) before you can move on. It’s simply about recognising what they are and taking small steps towards dealing with them.

Recognising your barriers is something that everyone can benefit from. Once you know what beast you are faced with, finding a way of conquering it becomes easier.

There are many ways you can tackle these barriers, but they all come down to taking small, impactful actions in the right direction. Over time, these build up that suit of armour and those weapons that allow you to conquer the beast.

Design A Blueprint To A New Career

Most of the time, our career paths look a lot like this:

  1. Decide at school what we want to be when we grow up.
  2. Choose the subjects at school and university/college that qualify us to do that.
  3. Find a job doing what we want to do.
  4. Get bored with that job so we find another job doing the same thing but in another company.
  5. Repeat step 4.

There is almost no thought towards where this is all leading. Well, it just led you to read this article on how to change careers, so what’s next?

  • If you know a bit more about what possibilities there are outside of your world then you can start to imagine what your life could be like.
  • If you know what you want your life to be like, rather than what you want to be, then you have a vision to work towards.
  • If you fully understand yourself, what your barriers are and where you are in life right now, then you can begin to create a bridge between your vision and the present moment.

This bridge, that we mentioned earlier, is the rough draft of a blueprint that will take you to that career and life you want.

And you’re going to create this blueprint yourself. 

It can be in the form of a 3-month blueprint, a 6-month blueprint, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. Whatever you need to get you moving towards your vision. 

If that means you need a 2-minute blueprint, to begin with, then that’s what you do!

The point is that you don’t have to continually be thinking about what you need to do next. It is right there in your blueprint. 

You can adjust, course-correct, improve your blueprint, but these are just tweaks because you’ve been through the process to create the right blueprint for you from the start.

Have You Finished? I Still Just Want To Know How To Change Careers!

If you’ve come this far and you’re still looking for the tactics, the job-search rules, the CV/Resume advice, the interview techniques then I’m sorry I didn’t give you this. They are still important parts of the journey, but they are not the bigger picture.

For those that are starting to see the bigger picture, welcome to the start of your career change journey!

You wanted to know how to change careers and I’ve gone through the whole process. There are details that need to be fleshed out to do each part justice, but as long as you can see the whole journey at a high level then you can start to grow that confidence that you can do this.

That’s really all you need to change careers.

A belief that you can do it.

Can you do it?

(*whispers* the answer is “yes!”)