Career change – what happened before the leap?

I thought I’d write a little bit about my own career change and what the situation was before I made the leap into something new.

It feels strange trying to carry on as usual with the world in turmoil. People may still want to change career – but it probably feels as though it has to be put on hold, everyone’s panicking, no one is hiring. Even if this isn’t 100% the case.

People looking to change career, as always, and maybe more than ever, still need inspiration, advice, ideas, comfort; perhaps above all, comfort. To know that things will get better, and possibly even better than before.

Before the leap

So here’s a little insight into my own career change, what I was going through before deciding to take a leap. Maybe you’ll recognise some of what I’m saying, how I was feeling. Perhaps you can relate to it. Even just knowing someone else felt like you do right now, can help

Beginnings

When I started working for my previous company as an advertising assistant, I was happy. Unpacking magazines, writing letters to clients, emailing or calling our international teams around the world, being organised. Looking through our magazines to see if clients’ had been featured. Dealing with art copy that came in. 

That was enough for me. I enjoyed it. Sorting out the magazine cupboard. Looking at magazines all day. I was part of a nice small team of 4, a small office space. It was fun.

But as time wore on, eventually I ‘had’ to move into sales (if I wanted to progress at all), and takeovers were agreed, redundancies made.

I moved into a big open-plan office, with a bigger team, a noisy boss. Part of a much bigger company. That wasn’t for me. That wasn’t what I’d signed up for.

Things changed, teams changed, I gained more responsibility. Bigger clients, bigger magazines brands, bigger budgets, bigger targets. And I developed less interest.

But you’re so lucky!

I’d tell myself I was lucky, this is great, you get to go out and meet fashion clients, take them to lunch in swanky restaurants, speak to international contacts, win a deal.

But behind all that was a feeling of being a fraud. I felt that I didn’t really know what I was talking about, I didn’t really know the industry that well. The talk always seemed superficial; I wasn’t speaking from the heart. 

I’d be so nervous before meetings. ‘What will I say? How will they be, will they ask me about something and I won’t have the answer? Am I saying the right things? Am I actually trying to get the business?’

Day out in London

I once spent the day with a lovely French colleague, over to meet with clients and talk about the magazine she represented. We had a nice time, she did all the talking, we got to go to lovely hotels and restaurants to meet clients. We travelled all over London by taxi, she’d bought me a present from Paris.

As I closed the taxi door and waved her off in Kensington, I turned to walk to the tube and tears came pouring out. I felt exhausted. What was wrong with me? I’d had a good day with a lovely colleague, full of little luxuries, and I was upset?

But my nerves, feelings of inauthenticity, of stress, were all coming out. This was not how I wanted to spend my days. And what made it worse was that I knew I was totally spoiled and ungrateful. Work’s work right? And this would be a ridiculously luxurious day for so many people.

But feeling like a fake, meeting with and speaking to lots of new people, rushing around having meetings all day, being out and about in busy old London wasn’t for me. What suits me better is hiding behind a computer, with a couple of nice colleagues around.

Work out what’s right for you now

It took time, but I realised that I didn’t want to work for some big corporation, in a big open plan office. The world of media and advertising and fashion and magazines wasn’t for me anymore. I didn’t want to have to try to convince clients to advertise in our magazines. I didn’t care. It felt inauthentic because I truly didn’t care. I hated the briefs, which all felt the same, and valueless. I didn’t understand the language. It sounded like BS.

And, importantly, I realised that I didn’t have to. The job you’ve had for the past 2, 5, or 10 years doesn’t have to be your job for life, not anymore. It takes time, it takes work figuring out what you want.

So if any of this rings a bell or resonates with you, remember it’s ok to realise your career isn’t right for you. You’re not going to do your best work if it’s not in an environment that suits you, for a company that has different values to you. It’s ok to realise a few years in that things have changed and that you want out. It may on paper be a great job, for a great company. But it’s not great for you.

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

Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash

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

Smiling at strangers. Why should we get out of our comfort zone?

Smiling at strangers. It’s sometimes used as an initiation exercise to practise getting out of your comfort zone. 

Walking along, randomly smiling at strangers. Potentially looking like a bit of a weirdo.

It’s the first step in doing something that might make you feel uncomfortable, nervous, out of your depth. 

Getting out of your comfort zone

It’s widely considered that ‘getting out of your comfort zone’ is one of the best ways to grow as a person.

If you keep on doing what you know, things that are easy and feel safe and certain, then you aren’t taking risks, and opening yourself up to new experiences. Therefore, you’re not going to do much growing.

You aren’t building your confidence by succeeding in doing things you’ve never done before, or never dreamed you could do. 

You aren’t proactively looking to change yourself for the better.

It’s daunting and cringey

Back to smiling at strangers. Some people would really struggle with it, and would find it daunting and cringey. Why would you smile at a stranger? Won’t they think I’m a bit mad? Or want something from them? Or – shock horror – about to talk to them?! Even worse, what if they then strike up a conversation?

Have a focus

It’s really hard to force yourself to do something you don’t particularly want to do. But – if you can see the benefit, and where this action might lead you, it makes it easier. You now have a focus.

You’re not just doing it for the sake of it, you’re doing it because you know you need to change. You need to shake things up a bit. You can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing, as you’re not happy with the result.

It could be that long-term you want to be better at networking. Maybe you wish you didn’t care so much what other people think.

Stand-up comedy?

I find smiling at strangers easy, I do it all the time. I’m a smiley person. But for me, being out of my comfort zone looks like public speaking, live TV, performing. Stand-up comedy? Not in a million years. 

I actually have no desire to be on TV or perform. But I’d like to not have that irrational fear of public speaking, the few times I need to do it. And I’d like to care less what other people think.

So – I sometimes have to present to groups of people, which pushes me back out of my comfort zone. I regularly give webinars, which sometimes still makes me anxious.

Caring less what others think

And I’m currently more active on social media, (well, LinkedIn), and experimenting with writing posts and video. Partly as a way to connect with more people about my coaching business and the things that are important to me. Partly as a way to care less what others think, to worry less about expressing my own opinion in public.

How about you? What do you find tricky that you know will help you long-term if you can get more comfortable doing it? What would be pushing you out of your comfort zone?

If you’d like to try coaching with me, contact me at joaopoku@gmail.com or here on LinkedIn.

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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.

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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

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