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3 Mistakes You're Making in Your Career Change

Want to pivot to a new career? Don't let these 3 mistakes hold you back.

A woman stands in front of her bakery, smiling

Research by London Business School found that 47% of people surveyed want to change their careers.

To be honest, I'm not surprised.

So many people fall into their line of work, or 'should' themselves into careers in an attempt to satisfy some external metric of success.

The pandemic certainly brought this into sharp focus for many. For the first time maybe ever, we had the space to stand back and actually look at what we were spending our lives doing. For many, this resulted in a realisation that they weren't happy.

Changing careers, whether through a series of small pivots or a larger transformation, can give you a new lease of life and fulfilment.

I myself made a change from corporate HR to full-time Career Coach, and I love it. The autonomy, the alignment with my core values. It's been a great move. Yet many never make the leap. They find themselves somewhat, well, stuck.

Here are the top 3 mistakes I see people make when it comes to their career changes, and how to navigate around them!

Career Change Mistake #1 - Waiting to Feel Ready

I have good news and bad news.

The bad news is, you won't ever feel truly ready. The good news is... you guessed it. You won't ever feel truly ready, so you can relax, and stop waiting for that feeling to come.

I know it's tempting to wait for a moment which shouts at you "NOW!"

A sign, a lightening bolt of inspiration and alignment of finances, personal development and readiness which just screams that THIS is the ideal time to go for it. It's not coming.

You tell yourself you're waiting for the perfect conditions, but really, it's an avoidance tactic.

Career Change Mistake #2 - Letting Fear Keep You Stuck

Our brains are designed, first and foremost, to keep us safe.

They can't really tell the difference between real vs perceived threat. This means that when you consider doing something risky and uncertain, your brain is going to send you a great big loud WARNING ALARM not to.

Your brain is just doing it's job, albeit somewhat unhelpfully, because the resulting fear this creates can be devastating.

We wrestle with hypothetical fears such as:

  • What if I make the wrong choice?

  • What if I try and fail?

  • What if I can't replace my income?

  • What will other people think?

As we spend energy 'what-if-ing' ourselves into a frenzy, it's hard to actually make the change. We're paralysed by the fear.

"If you do not change direction, you might end up where you are going" – Lao Tzu

Career Change Mistake #3 - Letting Your Assumptions Guide You

We carry so many assumptions about career change.

Things like:

  • I'll have to go back to school

  • This is something people do in their 20s, not at my age

  • I'll have to take a huge pay-cut

  • I'll be starting again from scratch

  • Everything I've done so far will be wasted

I'm not saying that every single one of these assumptions is totally false. If you want to be a doctor or an architect, for example, then yes of course you'll need further qualifications and training. But most of these assumptions are not fully based on facts.

For example, what you've done so far is never wasted, it's given you the rich experiences and skills that make you who you are today. You're never starting from scratch, and people make career changes well into their 60s.

So, what can you do about this?

These are my top 3 tips for avoiding these mistakes:

  1. Stop waiting and start doing. Take a small baby step, such as dusting off your CV, and reaching out to someone for a coffee chat about their career. You'll see that this is more than possible, and each step you take will help reveal the right path for you.

  2. Shift from perfection into experimentation. If you can lower the pressure on yourself to get this 'right first time', and realise that there is no perfect decision here, you can lean into this period of exploration and discovery with joy instead of panic. Every step you take (especially the mis-steps) will give you vital data about what works and doesn't work for you.

  3. Find out the truth. Become an assumption-busting machine. You goal is to be delightfully mistaken, both about what roles are actually like, and what is possible for you. Speak to people in these roles, attend some online talks, take a weekend class, look into your finances with an advisor. Find out what is actually possible here. Don't let guess-work, doubt and assumptions keep you rooted in place.

Remember, you don't have to figure it out alone

If you want help navigating a change, I can help. My Career Clarity Success Programme will uncover what would actually light you up, and align to you as a person, so you can move forward with confidence.

Check it out and if it sounds interesting, you can book a call here.

Not ready to invest in coaching? My Career Clarity Toolkit will walk you through this process step by step!

Always on your side,

CEO and Founder, Clarity Coaching with Louise


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