Are you one of the scores of hard-working professionals whose career has been disrupted or eliminated? If so, you’re on the front end of a career change. Contemplating your unknown future can trigger a flood of emotion. You might be angry, anxious or a little of both. Guess what, you’re normal. This is a big crossroad.
Knowing where to start can pull you off the emotional rollercoaster and get you moving in a positive direction. Here are three tips to launch your reinvention:
Step Into a Period of Focused Introspection
While your anxiety is warranted, it clouds your ability to navigate this transition wisely. Take some time to self-reflect. Curb your impulse to update your resume and scour job sites. There will be time for that soon enough. Right now, tamp down your cortisol levels and get some blood flowing to your brain.
Take a long walk, ideally in nature. Even if you’re slammed with home-schooling your kids or dealing with a long list of things to do, break away and make yourself a priority. Your career pays for everything in your life. It needs your attention.
As you walk, breathe deeply. Let as much tension go as possible. Start calmly thinking about your situation. Mentally take stock of your assets. You first thoughts might be financial, and that’s OK, but also reflect on your health, friendships, family, living situation, etc. … anything you can identify that’s stable. This will help ground you.
Get Clear About Your Natural Talents
As change swirls around you, the one thing that remains stable is you and what you’re gifted to do. Envision a “talent suitcase” that holds all of your core skills, acquired experience, knowledge, values and temperament. Now it’s the time to open that suitcase and get intimately familiar with its contents.
An important resource at this juncture is a solid career assessment. In my book, “Elevate Your Career: Live a Life You’re Truly Proud Of,” I include a coupon to take an assessment I developed called Elevations. Elevations is a self-discovery process that illuminates your career capabilities and interests. Your assessment results will help clarify what’s next and will boost your self-esteem.
Your Elevations report outlines your career-related values, enjoyable skills, interests and temperament. You’ll see a pattern form as you look at your results. Get curious about new industries or fields that could utilize your talents. Pay special attention to your interests, as they provide concrete direction toward your next opportunity.
Define Your Past Identity and Your Future Vision
A career change requires an identity shift. You benefit by doing this consciously. It’s likely that a big part of your self-worth is wrapped up in your former role or occupation. It’s time to acknowledge the past and begin to design your future.
Notice how you defined yourself in the past. What made you feel competent, rewarded and successful? Now begin to envision your future. It’s more than a job title. Think about the contributions you want to make, the level of income you want to achieve, and the balance between your career and your personal life. Plan to make improvements so your future is a substantially better version of yourself.
What you want to do and how you want to do it are both on the table. Traditional employment, contract employment or self-employment are options. You’re the CEO of your career. If you have long dreamed of being your own boss, now might be the time. If you’ve yearned to relocate, more and more employers are ditching the requirement for you to come to the office. New doors are opening in this pandemic labor market.
Courage is the fuel that drives successful career changes. Follow a clear process and learn the psychological stages that accompany career transitions. Reach out for support from your champions as well as your sparring partners. Access all the resources at your disposal and step into a bright future, one you’re truly proud of.