I feel stuck!

Here are some of the things clients have written to me when they’ve reached the point of desperation in their career situation.

 “I feel stuck!!!”

“I am totally lost with what I actually want to do with my life and career.”

“I’ve been stuck for some time in figuring out what I’d like to do in my career.”

“I’m at a major cross roads!!”

It’s common to feel stuck. You don’t want to move forwards with your current career as it no longer feels right. You don’t want to carry on what you’re doing. You’ve lost any joy or interest in what you’re doing.

But – it offers a regular salary, certain security, you’re comfortable, you know what you’re doing. You can just cruise along. It isn’t enough for you, but it’s not exactly scary.

And the unknown, is scary.

A new job, new colleagues, a new set-up, possibly a new industry. A steep learning curve, the possibility that you won’t like it or won’t fit in. It’s all quite daunting.

Add in cvs, applications, cover letters, interviews, it all seems such a lot of work.

So you stay stuck.

You don’t do anything, you dream, you worry, you procrastinate. You lose confidence and you stay small.

I’ve worked with enough clients in this situation to know that although career change can seem daunting and scary, the scariest thing is actually doing nothing. Staying stuck, feeling crap, kicking yourself for not sorting your life out.

The best way to start feeling good again, to feel a bit motivated, a bit energetic, is to start on your career change journey.

It’s like a side project, your little secret – where it’s all about working out what you want, how you want your life to be, and how you can get there. Sorting out your values so that you find a job that actually matches what you want to achieve. Looking not only at what you’ve done in the past, but at what you really want to be doing, and could be doing, in the future.

Career change can actually be fun if you look at it as a discovery project. You can do the research, get inspiration, read about people who enjoy their work. Get ideas about what might interest you. Contact or talk to people within your wider circle of acquaintances, start finding opportunities.

Most importantly, you start DOING. Feel inspired to apply for that job. Be feel brave enough to ask that acquaintance about their work and find out if there are any openings. Say yes to finding out more about an opportunity that has presented itself.

If you need guidance with your career change, I help people come up with their own personal plan of action. We break down where it is they want to get to, and what are the steps to get there. Then we work on each step, starting small. If you’d like my help, you can contact me at LinkedIn or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Lachlan Donald on Unsplash

Start small, start slowly, but start

I saw a quote yesterday from a rapper called Willie D – no idea of the context, but it struck me. He was basically saying that whatever happens in his life, illness, disaster, whatever, every single day he has to spend 5 minutes working towards whatever it is he wants to achieve.

5 minutes is small, but it’s something. And you can do a surprising amount in 5 minutes

I’m currently doing a writing course, and we’re starting off with 10 minute writing exercises each morning. It always surprises me how long 10 minutes seems. I splurge on the page for a minute and then it’s a matter of keeping going, keeping going, think think, what more can you write? 10 minutes does not necessarily fly by.

5 minutes is also enough time to do something. To look something up, find something out. Start and maybe finish an email. Start and maybe finish a post.  Tweak and finalise a document. Read an article. Listen to something that inspires you.

Dedicating 5 minutes means that you can spend the rest of the day safe in the knowledge that you have done something for yourself, to improve your situation, to take control. 

The worst is not doing ANYTHING. This is when the self-doubt and self-recrimination comes in, and the super negative thoughts. This is where you procrastinate and feel bad. You tell yourself the situation will never change, this is it forever, you’re going to feel bad forever more.

But doing 5 minutes of something changes everything. Suddenly you’re a person who is moving forwards, who is dedicating time to something important. You’re taking action, you’re proactive, you have energy. You’re focussed. You will change your situation.

Start with 5 minutes, doing whatever it is you need to do. Start small, start slowly, but start.

If you’d like some career coaching with me, you can find out more about me on LinkedIn and send me a message. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash

How meaningful is our work? What this year has taught us.

I’ve hesitated talking about career change as much as usual in my blogposts this past year. Because things have shifted, living through a pandemic. I’ve struggled to talk about it in the same way I previously had. 

I’m so aware of the desperation and financial stress so many people are going through. They might been made redundant or are struggling to find work at this time. Talking about a career change, aimed at those people already with a job seemed…insensitive. Being able to change career is a privilege. Having options is a privilege. 

I’m aware lots of people are simply surviving right now, living through an extremely stressful time.

Career change right now

However the reality is, many people are considering a career change right now. 44% of UK finance workers are considering changing jobs because of the pandemic (600 people were surveyed). That’s according to a survey by KPMG and the Financial Services Skills Commission.

The pandemic has given a lot of us a jolt, and has caused us to reassess our lives. People are seeing their jobs, and perhaps their lives, differently. Taking away the commute, time in the office with colleagues, meetings and travel, has left many considering what they really do all day every day. And if work doesn’t seem particularly meaningful, or enjoyable, that can be a shock. 

When I had a career change a few years ago, we weren’t going through a pandemic. But I’d definitely started to question how meaningful my work was. Take away the fancy lunches, rushing around London for meetings, the freebies and the trips abroad. And my work consisted of helping other companies sell more things and make more money through their advertising. Which was something I didn’t particularly care about. And it’s quite hard to fake caring about something over a period of time. Over a period of years.

I’d marvel at how some people seemed to be excited by it. They’d come up with new ideas, full of enthusiasm. I didn’t get it. I just did what I had to do, but something was missing. And I didn’t feel authentic. You can see when someone is genuinely interested and cares. I didn’t want to carry on spending my days feeling like that. 

Should we stay stuck?

A lot of other people feel the same way right now. Their job is fine, it pays them well. Many people would tell them to be grateful for what they have. And I do agree it’s important to be grateful for the luxuries and privileges some of us have. 

But does that mean you should stay stuck, and put up with things that affect you negatively? You know there could be more to your work. You could be working away hours of your life for something you actually care about and that is meaningful. That can be a difficult thought to push down. 

The pandemic and lockdowns have given lots of us an opportunity to consider our values, what’s most important to us. For many of us it probably comes down to appreciating family, friends, community, our health, both physical and mental, our safety.  After these essentials, comes how we are as a person, how we spend our time, what we learn, how we grow.

And if our work doesn’t play a part in this, doing meaningful things with our time, learning and growing, then we’re left feeling lost. All that time sat at a desk, emailing. For what? Is it important, is it worth it, or is it worthless?

We’re already seeing massive shifts in how we work. A lot of us will have spent this year working remotely when normally we’d be in an office. Sometimes change leads to yet more change. The world’s been turned upside down, things have been shaken up. I think it’s understandable that many people will be thinking now’s the time to take another step in a new direction.

Sometimes we need a push.

If you’d like some career coaching with, you can find out more about me on LinkedIn and send me a message. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Career change crossroads

You’re at a crossroads. Deep down you know what you want and need to do. You just need someone else to say it’s ok.

I spoke to a new client called Maira. She’d just left her current job, partly because the situation had changed due to covid and the job wasn’t quite the same. Partly because it wasn’t challenging her anymore, and she didn’t feel as though she was learning and growing. And partly because she and her boyfriend wanted to travel a little, to The Netherlands to spend time with his family, to Brazil to spend time with her family. 

So she was at a happy crossroads, with enough savings to keep her going for a few months without work – but with a few ideas floating around and unsure exactly what to do next in terms of her career.

She had a couple of options – find a job with a company, working remotely, ideally as a community manager. Or set up her own business as an events planner, which is her ultimate dream. 

Ultimately she knew what she had to do – find a decent job where she could work remotely – for now. It doesn’t have to be forever. A job that she finds interesting, maybe challenging, with a decent salary. 

Then a little way down the line, she can start on her own business slowly, on the side. 

As we were talking I could sense her relief in having someone agree with her, and back her ideas. She started to see things much more clearly – the crossroads was morphing into a vision and a plan. 

We discussed how her next job might help in setting up her future business; she’ll learn new things, have new ideas, build up more contacts. She can enjoy a stable income and get started one her own business when the time is right. 

Maira also wanted to talk about a personal project she was thinking of getting started on, which was writing more. She thought writing a blog might be useful. It could be a way to get her thoughts out, and to talk about her career speciality which is building communities. But she could also share her experience of living in a foreign country. She always used to love writing but hadn’t done much of it recently. I thought this was a brilliant idea. 

Starting your own little side project gives such a boost to your confidence and motivation. You’re working on something you’re really excited about, you’re creating, you’re working out how you want to do things. In this instance, you’re learning all sorts of things, like how to set up a website, and you’re refining your writing.

Maira was wondering which audience to write for, in which language (she speaks three), and which topic in particular. I recommended that she just get started. See how it flows, see what comes easily to her, what she enjoys writing about. She could share it with her friends, family and network, and see what feedback comes back. That will inform her direction. And, even better, it could be a really good way of sharing her experience with potential employees and clients. 

They could get to know her through her writing, get a better sense of her personality, read about her experience. She could share the blog on her LinkedIn profile, as this is one of the platforms she is using to find a new role. 

Also – looking for a job can be so hard when you have the whole day to fill. You can easily procrastinate, do a bit of searching then give up, feel guilty, and not know what to do with yourself. Maira had already decided on a routine of spending four hours a day on her career change. A couple of hours to research and apply for jobs, a couple of hours to do online learning courses. She could build writing into her routine, and really enjoy the benefit of having a few different projects to get on with in the morning, each motivating her and moving her on in the right direction, then have the afternoons free. 

For now Maira is going to carry on with the job search – with a targeted approach.  She’ll research companies she likes the look of on LinkedIn. I recommended finding people in community manager roles and see what their experience is, see what they are posting about. Maybe contact them for advice. She’s also going to be even more active on LinkedIn, posting regularly, adding video testimonials of people she’s interviewed to her profile, asking for and writing testimonials, and being as present as possible. 

And she’s going to get started on her new blog. 

But she’s also going to give herself a break to spend time with her family. I think that if you can, that’s one of the best things you can do after leaving a job. Get away, have fun, get some perspective, shed the skin of your former role. You’ll come back refreshed and ready to go.

When she returns at the start of the new year we’ll regroup, see what the progress has been, discover if anything has changed, and move forward from there.

If you’re at a career crossroads and would like my help, contact me. Find me at Linkedin or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Alex Kalinin on Unsplash

Is now the time to reassess your values?

Values are so important. If your values aren’t aligned with those of your place of work, you’re going to feel some misalignment. Thinking about what is most important to you will help shape your career path. 

If making lots of money is super important – that will take you off on one trajectory. Having freedom and flexibility in your working day – being able to work from home or remotely some or all of the time, might be more important to you. (I know that right now with the pandemic there isn’t much freedom at all about where we work!).

Your time might be of most value to you – having a job where you never have to work evenings or weekends, and can stick to 9.5. The clearer you can get on all of this, the more that’s going to guide you in a career change.

These values become your navigation tool. You’ll know what to explore, and what to cast aside. 

When I was on my career change journey, I did an exercise where you had to study in detail various areas of your career. They were:

  • Where you want to live?
  • What you want your work environment to be – office, home, mixture?
  • What kind of people do you want to work with – curious, ambitious, chilled…do they share your values?
  • What are your top 3 areas of interest?
  • Do you want to travel with work? Where?

All quite basic, obvious stuff. But it’s easy to just look for what you can do based on your skills and experience when you are considering changing careers. You forget about the other factors that are also so important. Lifestyle and how you want to work are as important as they actual work you will be doing.

If you’d like help with your career change, contact me at joaopoku@gmail.com or via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/joannaopoku/

Photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞 on Unsplash