Is this the right time for a career change? Dealing with uncertainty.

At the moment there is a lot of fear and uncertainty around the coronavirus and how it will affect us all. Lots of people are worried about their jobs, paying mortgages and bills, home schooling, older parents and family.

If you’ve already started considering a career change, you might wonder if now is really the time. There’s too much uncertainty. Surely no one is hiring or interviewing, the economy is taking a big hit, isn’t this a pointless task?

I watched an interesting video on dealing with career change during a difficult time, with so much uncertainty. The host made a really important point that stood out to me – “now is the time to channel fearful energy into proactive energy”.

Here’s how.

I talk a lot about a few different things that really helped me with my career change. Amongst them are reading inspiring and practical books, blogs, and interviews around career change. About interesting people and how they life their lives. And also listening to podcasts, around the same subjects.

But time is quite often an issue with career change. We feel as though we’re too busy to think about something so big. We don’t have the headspace to really explore by reading widely and looking for inspiration, and writing down our dreams and thoughts.

Well now, a lot of us are working from home and not commuting. Or staying in in the evenings and weekends rather than carrying on with our busy social lives. So it’s a great opportunity to make use of the extra time. And channel that fearful energy into proactive energy.

For once, we have time.

Career change requires a lot of thinking time, exploring what you really want from your career right now. Maybe your ideas or values have changed in the past few years. Maybe you’ve started on a trajectory that really isn’t right for you any more. It’s time to get clear on what your next move will be, whenever the time’s right. 

Use books, online activities, talks, articles and blogposts to find some of your answers. Work out what inspires you, what kind of lifestyle you want to lead, how do you want to spend your time? Who is out there doing things that interest you, or is someone that you admire? How did they do it? What is their life philosophy? What can you learn?

It’s also a great opportunity to do online courses and learn something new. It could be something that could help you in your next job, new skills or a new awareness of an industry. It could simply be learning something that interests you and makes you happy. There are lots of free or inexpensive courses out there – many hosted by well-known, inspiring people.

Staying stuck is the worst – whatever is going on in the world. Taking action, in whatever small way, really helps. Channel that fearful energy into something productive.

And if you’d have a life coaching session with me, sign up here on LinkedIn. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Caleb George on Unsplash

12 Things I wish I’d known about career change

Over many years, I learned all of these things and it led me to a brilliant career change. If I’d known them before, maybe I wouldn’t have spent years making the change. Perhaps these career change tips will help you with your career change.

1. So many other people are going through the same thing or have gone through it. You’re not the only one, and you’re not a loser or a failure if things aren’t working out. 

2. Working in sales can be really different company to company, and it doesn’t always have to be about cold-calling and the hard sell. It can be more consultative. 

Also, in sales, you have to believe in the product and care about helping the clients. Otherwise it’s always going to feel inauthentic.

Learn from others

3. You can learn from those who have gone through it. Try what they tried. Refine what appeals to you and what doesn’t. Speak to people, find examples online and in books. Remind yourself that if they can do it, so can you.

4. Go to talks about career change or simply about interesting people doing interesting things. It will inspire you to do interesting things with your life. 

5. Recruitment consultants will most likely try to put you in exactly the same role in another company. They probably don’t care about whether or not your values align with that of the company. It’s up to you to work out what sort of company you want to work for.

And that means looking at what sort of environment you want to be in, what sort of people you want for colleagues, what’s the culture, what’s important to the company? Are you interested in what they are aiming for? Does it sit well with you?

Get to know yourself

6. You really need to take time to get to know yourself, assess where you are right now in your life. Find activities online or in books to help you with this.

What are you most interested in, how do you actually like to spend your time at work? Identify what you enjoy in your day-to-day and what you don’t. How do you like to work, always on the go or slow and peaceful? What do you want to feel proud of doing? 

7. Remember that you can change industry or company, and do something different. Your skills are transferable. There are way more opportunities out there for you than you realise. You have to seek them out, speak to people, stay open.

Separate from your current ‘work identity’

8. A job title, status, working for a well-known company, aren’t the most important things, for you. Separate yourself from your current ‘work identity’. You’ll still be you doing something else.

9. There will be a transition period. You’ll enjoy the freedom. 

10. Career change can be really exciting. You’ll feel rebellious, free, so pleased that you are taking control rather than following everyone else and suffering. 

11. Change can be really, really good, and lead to other great things.

12. Getting out of your comfort zone is scary but also can be thrilling and confidence building.

If you’d like some coaching sessions with me, check out my LinkedIn profile and message me there: www.linkedin.com/in/joannaopoku. Or email me at joaopou@gmail.com.

Photo by Georgie Cobbs on Unsplash

How do I deal with to-do list procrastination when I want to change career?

You’ve made the decision that you want to change career. You’ve got your to-do list.

You’re feeling motivated to get researching and networking and go for it.

There are loads of things you could do, researching, contacting people, searching, applying for jobs, looking at courses…

…but where do you start?

There’s a way I deal with my to-do list which works really well (whether for career change or anything else for that matter).

1. Highlight 1-3 of your top priority tasks on your to-do list. 

Take a few moments to pick the things that will actually have an impact and move your forwards. Such as contacting someone who could give you practical advice or an opportunity, or sending off an application. Don’t get bogged down in the easy stuff like general ‘research’.

2. List each teeny tiny easy step you need to do to complete each task. 

Really easy – such as ‘find phone number’, ‘have a quick read of their LinkedIn profile’, ‘write small summary of what I want to say’, ‘make the call’.

Or, ‘open up job application document (or download and print)’, ‘open up copy of CV to refer to’, ‘set aside x minutes to complete’, ‘work on first section’, ‘work on second section’, ’review’, ‘hit send’.

3. Pick one of these top priority tasks and get to work, step by step, crossing each off as you go along. 

4. Ignore all else until you complete it. This is important. Focus and get it done. Then pick the next one and carry on.

So now I know how to break down the tasks on my to-do list. But how do I actually get started?

Now, as a client pointed out to me, you might get wrapped up in the art of to-do list-making. You spend all your time adding to and reordering your list (ehm, procrastinating) rather than actually ticking off the steps. How do you get yourself motivated to actually take action?

A few more tips:

  • You need to focus on the result you want. Are loads of the tasks things you could do but aren’t essential? What is it that you really need to do that will make you progress? What will have the biggest impact if you do it? 
  • A fresh short list for that morning can help, forget about everything else for now, what’s the one thing you need to do today or this morning? What are the priorities? 
  • I’m a fan of setting a timer, 10-15 minutes to really focus and make progress, then I can have a break and make a tea or whatever. That really helps me, doing what I can in a short burst. If I’m then on a roll I’ll extend the timer! 
  • Finally, when you’ve had something on your list for a long time, a week, a month, it’s worth reassessing if it’s something you really want or need to do? Can it be scrapped? Or does it need to be broken down into something more doable?

Keep things as simple as you can to avoid overwhelm, and just super methodically work through the important tasks, breaking them down.

If you’d like to work with me on some coaching sessions, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com or find a slot and sign-up here: calendly.com/joannaopokulifecoaching

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

The perfect time for writing, reflecting & planning.

This time of year, the days between Christmas Day and the New Year, I naturally turn to reflecting on the current year, and on the new year to come.

How do I feel about the year that’s about to end? Generally a good year? Not so good? Did anything go well, and what could I have done differently?

What plans do I have for January? Do I want to change how I go about my day-to-day routines? What big plans do I have for the whole year, what do I want to achieve?

I love to write it all down.

I find writing cathartic, whether it’s a blogpost, the day’s to-do list, big plans for the future or simply getting down on paper how I’m feeling. Reflecting in this way is therapeutic, getting it all out of my head, and down on paper. It’s a way of processing my thoughts.

There’s such freedom in writing. Random words, imagined conversations, massive crazy dreams. Writing down how you really feel about something, and would never dare tell anyone.

Also it can help you come up with solutions. Getting down all possible options, making a massive plan of all the steps it will take to do something.

Here are a few writing exercises I’ll be doing over the next few days, that you might want to try.

Reflection

1. When reflecting back over the past year, a really nice exercise is to think of and write down all the things I’m proud of. What did I overcome, or survive? When did I do something that took courage. What did I find a solution to? Was there a situation I dealt with well? Who did I help? In which moments did I cheer myself on and get something done?

Those times you’ve felt nervous, or unequipped or unqualified, you’ve struggled with imposter syndrome – but then you did it and it was fine? That time you were assertive when usually you’d give in. That time you tried something new and loved it.

It can be hard at first, but if you push yourself to list every little thing you’re proud of, most of us can come up with quite a list.

Brief moments

2. It’s also great to consider moments of peace, contentedness, happiness, or joy during the past year. It doesn’t have to be something big, like an amazing holiday or event. Rather, those brief moments.

For example a lovely unexpected exchange with someone you didn’t know. A time you chose to do what you wanted over what someone else expected of you – and you relished in the moment. That time you took a few minutes from your busy day to sit on a bench in the sun and close your eyes, enjoying a feeling of peace.

If things aren’t going particularly well at the moment, thinking back over what you are proud of, and those little moments of joy, can help you get perspective. It wasn’t all doom and gloom – there were great moments.

3. Compare how you feel right now, with how you felt this time last year. How have things moved on? What are you pleased about? What are you frustrated at? If things haven’t gone as you’d like, you can spend some time reflecting on what you need to do to bring about change.

Future first

4. And on to what’s to come. What are my immediate plans for January, what do I want to get sorted at the start of the year? What’s bugging me? What practical things do I want to sort out, or what changes can I make to my routine?

(Download my morning routines guide here: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!)

5. Equally important – what do I want to enjoy or try in January in order to start off the year well? January’s the month where I like to hibernate, so which films do I want to watch, which books do I want to read, which recipes do I want to try cooking?

6. Longer term – what big plans do I have for the year, work wise, health wise, financially, personally, emotionally? However big or however long I think they might take to fulfil, I write it all down. I’m a big believer in being clear on your goals and what you want to achieve, and writing it down. For more help on this, see my vision boards guide here: How to create a vision board.

So there we go, a few tips on taking the time to reflect, reassess and plan. I hope these tips inspire you.

If you realise you need help in making this year different, I’ve recently launched my 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Career change – how to pick one thing and get started?

Something I often see with people who want to change their career, is that they’ve got a few vague ideas about what to do next, but they can’t see through the haze and just pick one.

How do you know which is the right one?

“What if I spend lots of time researching and going down one route, only to find it’s not right for me and I’ve wasted time? How do I decide which path to take? Why can’t someone just tell me what to do?!”

Pick one

The solution is – pick one. Just pick one and try it out. Stop procrastinating, stop wasting time. The only way to stop dithering is to take some action. Get some real insight and experience and you’ll know if it’s right for you.

You might have quite a list of possible options, from the safe and practical to the wildly exciting and (for now) completely out of reach. 

But most people will only have around 1-3 things they’re really seriously contemplating. 

Maybe your options are:

1) Stay put and go for a promotion. I’m stagnating in this role. Maybe more money and responsibility is what I need? Maybe I’ll love it? Or at least if I’m earning more and have a better job title I’ll feel better about my life?

2) Find a job in another company. Maybe my current role is actually ok, it’s just my company that I don’t like? If I were doing the same role in a really cool company, where I actually share the same values, maybe that’d be a good change?

3) Retrain as (fill in the blank). My secret dream. I think I’d love to do this, but it seems so out of reach. I’d need to do at least a year’s training. And the cost of the course will be loads…And I’m not sure I’m really confident enough to go for it, what if I’m no good? 

3 month rule

So the first step is, pick one and give yourself three months to gather information and start taking action. Ignore the other ideas for the time being. Don’t procrastinate around picking the first one, just pick the one that leaps out to you the most today.

Side note – by the way, this doesn’t mean that I think you can or should change career in 3 months. Of course it’s possible, but it took me waaaay longer, from the first moment I thought about changing. But 3 months is a good amount of time to get stuck into your project and a lot can be achieved.

Next, write a list of all the little goals you’d need to achieve to get there. Write down everything. First steps, like find out HR manager name, find LinkedIn account login, Google search where you could do a course in your area. Make each step small and achievable. Keep going through to the final goal – receive promotion letter and accept it. Receive job offer and accept it. First day of course!

Now put some time frames on your list – realistically how soon can you achieve each goal? Make it achievable but push yourself too, try and take a small action daily if possible.

Then, you are going to methodically work through your list, ticking things off as you go. You can add to it when you realise there’s a missing step – but DON’T add to the list just to procrastinate. Keep really focussed on achieving your goal.

Reassess

When it gets to the three month mark, you can reassess. Where have you got to after three months of research and (crucially) taking action? Have you achieved your goal? (Whoo!) Have you realised it’s not for you? Are you feeling uninspired by what you’ve found out?

Don’t worry if you’ve realised it’s not for you – this is good news! Because you can scratch this idea from your big list. Now you’ve got headspace to concentrate on the other two. You’re getting closer to working out what you really want to do.

Maybe in this time you’ve had a realisation, and are on a different path anyway.

The whole point of this process is to get you taking action. The number one cause of all my frustration and angst before going through my career change was thinking and worrying so much, rather than taking some kind of action.

As soon as I took things into my own hands and started doing, taking serious steps to change things, it all became a lot easier and more exciting.

Speaking of taking action, I’ve recently launched my 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash