By: Lenore Kantor
So, you realize it’s time for a change. Now what?
The following questions can help you get clarity about where you want to go and what you need to do to get there.
- Why do you want a change? Identify what triggers are prompting your need for something new. Some possible reasons might be boredom (you aren’t feeling challenged enough) or unhappiness (perhaps you don’t like your boss, colleagues or work environment). It can be helpful to look deeper to understand the underlying drivers. Is it “you” that’s not a fit for the role or work you are doing currently or are you in the wrong “place”? It’s important to know whether you need to be focusing internally or externally. For instance, are you using your true talents or do you need to switch positions or are you not compatible with colleagues, in which case a new company and culture might be better. Another trigger might be a specific event — were you fired or did your company get acquired? This may make your situation more stressful and urgent, but can provide helpful clarity on your most important priorities.
Helpful Hint: Connect with your gut instincts here and listen to the feelings that come up for you around this, some of which may not seem rational. DO NOT IGNORE YOUR BODY! Listen to your head and your heart to see what messages they have for you. If you are still unsure, get some additional outside information to provide input.
- What do you think you are looking for? Describe your vision. Spell it out as clearly as possible — the type of responsibilities, work environment, pace and anything else that seems important. You can start with what you really want to do and how you want to be living. If it’s hard to visualize, you can backtrack by thinking about what you want to move away from.
- How do you need to position yourself? This gets into defining your professional brand (the subject for a completely separate article). Here, you should be thinking about what kind of expertise or experience you need to have. Do you have the right skills for what you want to do or do you need additional training? Can you describe or leverage your existing talents in a way that would be valued in any new role? Maybe there are committees or projects you could get involved with to give you new exposure.
- Who can help you? What kind of support do you need and do you know anyone that can help you find it? Are there resources you can use to gather insight online? For example, you may want information about new roles, salaries or backgrounds on different companies. Getting feedback from friends or colleagues who may be familiar with your strengths can be a good place to start. Do you need additional assistance in developing your overall positioning or updating your LinkedIn profile? It can be helpful to work with a resume writer or coach for support, suggestions and ongoing accountability.
[Related: Struggling With a Career Change? Try Looking at it Like Dating]
- When do you want to see results? What timeframe are you working towards and how urgent is your need for change. This lets you know what actions you need to take and helps you set clear timelines. Setting targets and goals for the next 3, 6, 9 or 12 months can be helpful for tracking your progress. Many changes often take longer than we expect to implement, so keep that in mind as part of your planning.
- Where do you need to position yourself for the best opportunities? Is this through networking groups or building relationships within your industry? Are you actually in the right location for the work you want to do? Are there other places you need to be seen online, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or other social media or relevant industry forums.
When going through any type of professional change, whether looking to switch companies or roles, getting to the next level within your organization, managing through a job loss or starting your own business; there are a few elements that are important for success.
Any change requires planning, patience, positivity and persistence!
Staying on course by taking steady actions and following through will help you see your progress over time. Maintain contact with the people who have helped you throughout your process to make sure you stay top of mind.
Going through a big change alone requires a lot of grit! If you want support and accountability, consider working with a coach or enlisting the support of some close friends or family. It can make a huge difference to have someone dedicated to keeping you on track, who wants to see you succeed. Having someone unbiased and experienced who has been through this before, like a mentor, can also help you identify tricks to move ahead and cultivate tools that will help you throughout your career. As you assess what you need, it will become clear where you are getting stuck. Reach out to get the support you need to make this exciting change for your future!
Lenore Kantor is an experienced strategic consultant, executive coach and owner of Launch Warrior, where she works with companies and individuals on their growth and leadership.