In 2015, change is the new black. It seems to me that nowadays we are continually evolving ourselves, building and morphing our interests, our skills, and our lives. The person you were yesterday doesn’t necessarily define the person you are today, and a new adventure awaits with every brand new morning. Change is in the atmosphere, present and waiting, ready for each of us to reach out and grab it.
When you are through changing, you are through. – Bruce Barton
There are so many choices and opportunities that we can use to transition and transform our lives. Small changes are easy to decide upon and deliver. Whether it’s a new holiday adventure, a technology upgrade, an exercise programme, or a home improvement project, there are so many choices that we can use to project ourselves onwards and upwards. The big changes take more consideration, more effort, and more resilience, but they can bring greater rewards.
One such major change is the decision to transition to a new role or industry, taking unchartered professional territory to pursue work you believe you will love. Against a backdrop of self-improvement, lifelong learning, and forward motion, the possibility of career change has become real for many of us. It is something to ponder and plan for, until we are finally ready to make the leap.
London School of Business and Finance (LSBF) recently surveyed 1,000 UK professionals, seeking to determine the British appetite for career change. LSBF found that 47% of the UK workforce would like to make a career change, with 66% of millennials interested in changing their professional path.
The survey shows that almost half of UK professionals are entertaining career change, but taking it from a possibility to reality is a whole different ball game. Only six percent of respondents said they were planning a major career change in the next three months, with 15% planning a move in the next 12 months. In contrast, 31% of participants were unsure about when they would make a career change, and 28% stated they are likely to never make the move. So, what is holding them back? Here are some of the reasons cited:
Financial security is a major factor, with 29% of respondents citing it as the main reason to sit tight in current careers. A higher number of millennials (41%) stated money as the main obstacle to career change.
Fear of failure is another big block, and was mentioned by 15% of those surveyed. An even higher number of millennials, 22%, stated that fear of failure prevented them from embracing career change.
Uncertainty can be a major block to career change, when you know what you don’t want, but are unsure what you do want. 20% of those surveyed indicated that they did not know what they would change their career to.
Lack of time can certainly stifle career aspirations. LSBF found that 14% of those surveyed cited the time investment as a block to career change.
How can you embrace and realise career change?
If you are happy and satisfied in your current career, then I’m delighted for you. If not, don’t let the above reasons stop you. I get it, they are good reasons, but if you really want to achieve your career goals, you have to forge bravely ahead and smash through the barriers holding you back. Commit to stop standing in your own way, overcome the inner procrastinator, and move towards a professional life you love.
Here are some practical tips to help you convert your career dream into career reality:
Be clear in your own mind what you want from your career. Start to manifest it by telling yourself aloud and, better still, by writing it down. If you are unsure what it is that you want, here are some ways to uncover your inner career desires:
Picture your perfect working day, capturing as many details as possible to bring the scene to life. Get as clear about your aspirations as possible, then work towards every element.
Leverage online career tools, such as the brilliant Plotr. Free to use, Plotr was established to help 11 to 24-year-olds discover and explore careers they’ll love. In fact, this engaging tool is extremely useful for adult career changers, leading to some true light bulb moments.
Conduct your own skills audit, clarifying your strengths and interests to define your target career path. Challenge yourself to write down every skill you can think of, and then group common themes. It should become clear where your strengths lie.
Establish your ‘zone of genius’, a phrase originally coined by psychologist, Gay Hendricks, in his book, The Big Leap. Hendricks said, “In your Zone of Genius, though the time you spend there produces great financial abundance, you do not feel that you are expending effort to produce it. In your Zone of Genius, work doesn’t feel like work.” Note every skill you have under the headings of genius, excellence, OK, poor. The items you list in your zone of genius should become the most important requirements for your next role.
Recognise the potential challenges and obstacles standing between you and your dream career. By facing potential problems and fears, you will be in a better position to seek support and plug any skills gaps. Do you need to find and enrol on some relevant training? Do you need to build your network? Do you need to find out more about a specific industry or role? Do you need more training? More hands-on experience? Is there something you struggle with and you know it is an integral part of your desired career, such as giving presentations or managing a team? Is there anything you can do to boost your confidence in this area? Is there training you can undertake to improve your management skills? Would working with a mentor help you tackle the challenges of a desired role?
Use your end-game picture to set clear, time-defined immediate, medium- and long-term goals. This can help to ensure you are always making the right choices and devoting your energy and resources to an action or path that directly relates to what you want. Frame every decision in terms of the question: “Will this take me closer to my goal or further away from it?”
Once you have defined your goals, take focused and consistent action to bring you closer to your career dream. As you achieve each set of tasks, cross them off and move down the list. You don’t always need to make huge leaps, it’s enough to move forward one step at a time.
Download the LSBF Career Change full report