How to be sure your next step in career change is the right decision?

I have a client who is stuck. Let’s call her Maria. Maria needs help. She wants to ensure she’s making the right decision about her future.

Maria returned to the UK after living in Australia for a year or so, working as a personal PA. She spent the past few years doing jobs that haven’t challenged her or helped her learn or grow. As she puts it, she’s ready to do something which is going to force her to use her brain.

Maria thinks she knows what her next step will be, to do a four year part-time course in nutrition. But she’s questioning herself, wondering if this is just a whim. Is this the right decision? Is she interested enough? Will it be a viable career? Can she make money as a nutritionist? Does she want to spend the next few years studying, what about money?

Break it down and build a realistic picture

When you are in a situation like this, it’s good to break down all your questions and worries and do as much research as possible. It’s the same process whether it’s a course, a job offer, starting up a business on your own. The aim is to build a more realistic picture of what this will look and feel like, and then make the right decision based on what you discover. 

For example you might be worried about the future, wondering how easy it would be to get a job with your new qualification. Nothing is certain, but you can get a clearer idea. See if the course leader can put you in touch with past students and find out what they are up to now. 

This way you can find out what’s realistic. Research jobs that appeal and are a viable next step; working as a nutritionist, working in the food production industry, perhaps writing articles for a food and wellness magazine. Get as full a picture as possible on what different opportunities there may be, and what appeals to you.

The best way to deal with a difficult decision is to be as informed as possible.

So if the course content is a worry, again, arrange to talk to the course leader and find out more detail. What exactly will you be studying each week, each term? Will it cover everything you want to know? Will there be content on setting up your own business – if that’s a route you’re interested in? How many hours of study will you do per week? How much extra reading will you need to do?  

Does what you find out seem interesting and exciting, or dull and off-putting?

And if money is worrying you – what can you do about it? Could you do a part-time job alongside studying, how would that fit in? Would that support you? Would you have the time? Do you need to save up first?

You’ll be better equipped to make a decision once you’ve carefully considered all of the above, and you’ve written notes and ideas and plans. And it’s important to listen to yourself. Are you drawn towards this course, this imagined life? Are you full of energy thinking about it, are you excited? Or are you withdrawing, feeling uneasy, feeling trapped? 

There is no certainty, but once you’ve put as much research into your decision as possible it will help.

If you’d like to work with me on some coaching sessions, find me on LinkedIn and send me a message, or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Han Lahandoe on Unsplash

What to write?

I’ve really struggled with posting about my coaching work on social media these past few weeks. It’s something I need to do – it’s how new clients find me. They read my posts, something resonates, they find out a bit about me and how I’ve helped my clients, and then get in touch. Seems quite straightforward. 

But – it’s not. I’m not a natural social media sharer. Sharing interesting stuff with friends and family, privately, – easy. I do that a lot, when I’m enthused about something I want to share it with people who I think will also love it. 

But writing about myself and my work, publicly? That’s different. It’s putting the focus on me.

Career change – what, now?

I work with people who want to change career. Typically they’ve wanted to change for a while but feel stuck and scared. They know they’re not happy with what they are doing, but they’re not sure what they really want to be doing. Or – they’re too scared to go for it. 

Right now this somehow seems a tricky thing to write about and put out there. So many people are losing jobs, or scared of losing their job, or are being furloughed, or struggling to find work. It’s a really difficult time for all of us really. 

It seems insensitive or inappropriate to talk about having the choice to leave a job and find a new one. What luxury, what freedom to even be able to consider it. 

The thing is, I know people are still changing jobs, changing career, getting promoted. One of my clients did just that last week, she had an interview and got the job. It is going on, of course it is, things haven’t completely ground to a halt. 

There’s been a shift

But, I have to acknowledge that things aren’t the same as before, and be sensitive to that.

So although I’m struggling with what to say, I suppose the main thing is to share positive stories. That’s what I’m looking out for myself. Remind people that good stuff happens. People go through a difficult time, and they get through it.  Things change, often for the better. Right now what people most need to hear, in my opinion, is stories of hope and happiness. 

So that’s what I’ll focus on. 

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

Written during Writers’ Hour. Join me on the next one.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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

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