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

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

Real life career change case study – from London NGO to remote work in Paris.

Kate had reached a point where she was really unhappy with her work, her social life, her living set-up. Everything just felt wrong and not suited to her. She needed a career change.

She felt that she had no control over her life and had somehow ended up in a situation that wasn’t making her happy.

She’s a really big-hearted person, who wants to help with terrible things going on in the world. 

Office life

Kate had recently started working for an NGO and working with disadvantaged school kids on the side. She wasn’t sure about the NGO work. Part of the issue was the set-up, she really didn’t like the tiring commute, being in the office and at her desk all day, and sticking to formal 9-5 working hours.

Kate loved working with the kids, and wanted to do more, but there didn’t seem to be many opportunities for full-time decently paid work.

Dream life in Paris

She lived in someone else’s house in a nice part of London, but craved her own space and independence. She had dreamed of living in Paris for years, and spent her free time studying French and watching films.

Kate had some career change coaching sessions with me, and at the start she felt lost. She had a vague idea of what she wanted but it all seemed so out of reach and unlikely. She was overwhelmed by the task ahead. But she was intent on finding something that really sat with her values and her lifestyle. 

She got specific

Over the weeks we narrowed down what she really wanted; what kind of work, working environment, hours, working space, pay, non work stuff, living situation. We weighed up what was feasible, and felt good, felt exciting. And we worked out a plan that would get her there. She thought out each step, different things she could try, with me prompting or questioning her. 

She’d have to do some pretty tough things, like asking her boss for an honest conversation, applying for a job abroad, consider finding accommodation abroad and all the admin that comes with that…but she’d started to see that it was just a series of steps, which she was capable of completing.

Part-time in Paris

And a year on, she’s working for the NGO part-time, remotely, from her new home in Paris. She’s also working with French business students part-time, and loving it.

It’s amazing that what had once been such a faraway dream is now her reality.

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

Photo by Sebastian Brennes 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

This Year Will Be Different

This year will be different‘. How many times have you told yourself this? On New Year’s Day? Your birthday? On your work anniversary? On a random rainy Tuesday morning as you’re bleakly staring out the bus window on your way to work (the last place you want to be heading towards)? 

This is the year where I work out what on earth it is I want to do. The year I finally get a job I’m great at and that I enjoy. This is the year I stop doing what everyone else thinks I should be doing, and I go for what I’ve secretly been yearning to do.

This week I read an email sent by someone I’ve admired for a long time now, called Monika. She’s the author of a book called This Year Will Be Different. It’s a book I read at a time when I was desperate for change.

She’d written an email to thank the people who’d helped her when she got started as a freelancer. A few key people had taken a chance on her, given her advice, or seen something in her. These people had changed the way she thought and they supported her way of working. 

I wanted things to change

I got a bit misty-eyed reading it. Because her books have had a big, positive influence on me and inspired me so much. When I read This Year Will Be Different it was exactly what I needed at the time. I wanted things to change and I didn’t want a repeat of the previous year, and the years before that.

In This Year Will Be Different Monika interviewed women who were doing interesting work, living unconventional lifestyles. Freelancers, women with portfolio careers (doing a few different jobs), designers, travelling translators. They talked about personal branding, finances, working for themselves, their life philosophy. 

You can’t be what you can’t see

That was far from my reality, working for a big corporation, shlepping into an office every day, doing work I didn’t care about. I’d vaguely dreamed of having this kind of lifestyle, feeling freedom, having a portfolio career, travelling, working for myself. Not going to an office.

Reading this book was a massive dose of inspiration. Hearing these women’s stories lifted me. I saw that you can choose to work and live in a way that really suits you. They had worked out what they enjoyed doing and were being paid to do it. They all had lifestyles that suited them. If they could do it, why couldn’t I? Why can’t you?

There’s a saying – you can’t be what you can’t see. It’s important to find your own inspiration. Examples of people who are working and living in a way that excites you and inspires you and makes you feel happy.

I hope you find something that touches you in the same way, and inspires you to make the changes you want.

If you liked this post, I’ve written more about surrounding yourself with inspiration here: The One Habit.

If you’d like to find out about life coaching sessions with me, email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

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