Working from home during the pandemic presented a breakaway from the traditional office routines – and with it, time to reflect on our careers and what might be next.
No longer did we dress up for work, stress in traffic or compete for parking. Rushing to meetings became a simple keyboard click. At first, we experienced a concoction of complexity, chaos, ambiguity and uncertainty. It seemed unmanageable to get work done.
But we adapted and realized we had gained an incredibly valuable asset: time. We became able to contemplate bigger questions, and to reassess.
Am I heading in the right direction? Why am I working so hard? What do I really want? What brings fulfillment to my life? What is my purpose, my passion? What energizes me?
For many, these questions led to a common answer: a need to switch careers.
It’s not easy to shift careers. It’s an emotionally disruptive experience that also carries a latent risk of failure. To those taking the plunge, I offer these tips:
Find your burning yes. Be driven by exploring and pursuing a meaningful and creative opportunity, versus simply avoiding something that is no longer stimulating. What is your picture of success? What is your picture of fulfillment?
Imagine your successful shift realized. Write down your aim and imagine what it would be like to fulfill it. Think in terms of legacy. What impact would you like to have? This will become your private contract with yourself and a reminder that your shift is in pursuit of a worthy purpose.
Be willing to iterate. Shifting careers is not an event but a process. Building your new level of comfort and expertise will be slow and gradual. There are no shortcuts to discovery. Being adaptive will help build resiliency.
Don’t try to be perfect. Keep in mind that most career-shifters are looking for opportunities that will stretch their thinking and help them develop new skills. Change your relationship with failure. Embrace failure as validation that you are audaciously trying new things. It’s only when you fail, acknowledge failure and reflect on it that you give learning a chance.
Align the shift with your gifts. What is your uniqueness? What talents can you apply to a new context? You are leaving behind your career but not your essence. You are changing what you do but not who you are.
Make your switch with authenticity and assertiveness.
Be proud and share your story. You will find that your narrative and your actions will inspire many others to rethink their own situation.
NOTE: A version of this blog appeared in the Arizona Republic.