Foggy. Confused. Unsure. Overwhelmed.
That’s what contemplating your next career move can feel like at the start. Sometimes it’s because you have so many options to choose from, and sometimes, it’s because you feel like you don’t have any. This place of limbo and ambivalence is part of the process of change, and it can leave you feeling paralysed and fearful. Staying in limbo for too long sucks. If you loiter in here for too long, it can prevent you from making your move towards the very things you DO want in life.
So, how does one gain career clarity when confusion currently reigns?
The answer is simple, but not always easy. As with most endeavours that feel big and a little scary, taking one step at a time helps, and by following the five steps below, you’ll start to shift your focus from overwhelm, towards clarity and be in a position where you can confidently start to make things happen.
- Re-discover what matters most.
Re-acquainting yourself with what is important to you is often the most important first step in the process. For many women, the demands of parenting or life in general mean that they have little time to reflect on what is truly important to them, because they are busy focussing on what is important to others. So, instead, spend time re-discovering your work-related values, and the types of people who tend to bring out the best in you.
- Know your strengths and what work means to you.
Behavioural science tells us that playing to your strengths is smart, and identifying the unique combination of strengths and natural capacities that make you memorable and an obvious fit for certain roles is both energising and enlightening. Additionally, when you become clear about what work means to you, you can start to tap into more purposeful ideas and career opportunities. This is where things can start to get exciting.
- Evaluate your options using a holistic view of what makes you thrive.
Building a one-page picture of your strengths, preferences, desires, experience and work-related priorities is the important next step. Taking a holistic perspective will support you to see the bigger picture at play, and make it easier to find work that fits you and energises you, in favour of roles that only meet one or two of your career criteria.
- Adopt strategies to move past your fears.
Sometimes, when we contemplate or initiate big change in our life, we can feel like we have one foot on the accelerator, and at the same time, one foot on the brake. Our fears and limiting beliefs are usually the internal mechanisms that are holding us back. You can identify your fears and negative thoughts that aren’t helping you, and find strategies to move past them. We advocate embracing Vulnerability and choosing to adopt a Growth Mindset, and we believe these two concepts are powerful antidotes to fear around change.
- Create an action-oriented plan and get started.
Even if you’re not planning on making your move for some time, it pays to leverage all the discovery work that you have done, so that it’s ready when you need it. Summarise your key learnings, your priorities and the first 3 action steps. Share your plan with someone who you know will be supportive.
Contemplating a career change can feel overwhelming, but getting clear in your mind about what makes you thrive at work can feel amazing. Shifting from foggy to clear by employing these five steps will bring you once step closer. And with clarity around the type of work that will help you thrive, will come the confidence and motivation to make the change happen.
Belinda Elworthy is a mother of three boys and Co-Founder of shethrives.org, an organisation dedicated to the wellbeing of working women. SheThrives blends coaching psychology, real-life experience and technology to deliver on-demand, self-led online programs designed to support women to return to work after a career break, and to thrive once they are there.