New Year, New Career? Not So Fast!

CN_Marc_v1_eAs we celebrate the new year, many of us make resolutions, determined to take advantage of the momentum of “starting over.” We want to wipe clean the slate of what was (the past), and undertake exciting new career goals that will bring us to new and better places – and ideally make this the best year ever.

But that slate isn’t clean. There is much to learn from where we’ve been. And it’s important to figure out how NOT to let the decision to start the new year off with change blindly bring us back to the same old place, even if it looks different on the outside. That happens more often than you might guess.

Now don’t get me wrong

I think it is GREAT to use the start of a new year to spur personal change. A new beginning is a wonderful motivator. But this is also a perfect example of “look before you leap.”  Jumping headlong into a new job or career just for the sake of change may not only disappoint, but it make leave lasting imprints of “I failed again.”

So what should we do instead? A good starting point for approaching change would be taking time to becomr aware of who we really are now, how we operate, and what will truly get us to a new place in our lives. It also means learning enough about that new place before charging passionately ahead.

How we keep creating the same thing

Early on, I used to go from job to job and career to career, sure each time I had found the answer at last – or at least that I was getting much closer. I admit that I did learn from each thing and bring that knowledge with me to help with coaching and this blog. But I would like to help save you at least some of the pain!

The problem for me was I thought merely finding a new place – one that felt different and offered me different kinds of opportunities – would get me to career happiness. BUT … and this is key … it was still the same me each time.

I was still the same person one who hadn’t bothered to look carefully at where I’d been and the role I played in things not working out. This isn’t about blame – it’s about finally starting to know what you don’t know you don’t know … about you and about jobs. Or at least beginning to find some of those missing pieces.

Starting off (the career change process) on the right foot

I had a client once who came to me ready to change his career – anything other than what he’d been doing, since it was so unfulfilling. And he listed a few things he might love more – never having bothered to do the research on what actual jobs in these fields might feel like to him. 

We started off by helping him get in touch with who he really is and what kinds of things make him happy. He also researched each and every career dream idea – and then we talked about them in the light of reality. And we talked about what he might have done differently in prior jobs with his newly-found self-awareness.

Not going into all the details, but by the time we were done, he realized that the career he’d had was something he really wanted – he just hadn’t known how to position himself from the very beginning, the role he played in his own growing disappointment, and how he might make it work for him now.

So how do I make change work for me?

First and foremost, real change takes time. And work. The good old digging in and rolling up your shirtsleeves kind of work. But oh how it pays off!

If you can afford a career coach – great. Just find one who feels right to you. And I say this without trying to get business for myself, since I only take a few clients at a time now. But the right coach can help get you to a new place that really is different, instead of just the same old same old in a different building.

And if you can’t afford a coach or simply prefer to go it alone, here are some articles (below) to help. Just remember to give yourself time to explore both you and the things you are considering – and time to make connections to help get you to that something new, which may look totally different or surprisingly a lot like the old.

Finally, be open to all possibilities, even ones you’ve thrown out in your mind. And please give yourself permission to fail, essential no matter what!

Articles to help with job & career change

♦   Career change & growth (plus self-assessment tools)

♦   How to find a new job

♦   Sample Networking Contacts Spreadsheet