Do you ever feel stuck at work? Ever get that sinking feeling on a Sunday night when you start thinking about the week ahead? Do you ever sit at your desk thinking: “That’s it – I’m going to hand in my notice right now!” (But then you don’t because you don’t have a plan B?) That was me a couple of years ago. I felt that my job and career suited my skills and my personality, but I was lacking the freedom and flexibility to work around my boys. That was the main reason why I decided to take a break and start this blog.
But changing career is a massive step. One you don’t want to take lightly and one you need to be ready for! I didn’t ask for help at the time, and I wish I did. So in the spirit of sharing some pointers with some of you who may be in a similar situation to the one I was in, earlier this week I interviewed career coach Liz Ward of Slick Pivot. Liz helps people re-evaluate and potentially ‘pivot’ their careers through a combination of live workshops and one-to-one coaching. So if, just like I did back in 2016, you find yourself questioning your job or career, what kind of process should you go through?
Focus on what’s already working
Talking about the negative aspects of a situation is always a lot easier than looking at the positive ones, especially if you feel ‘stuck in a rut’ when it comes to your work.
As Liz explained, “The first step is to run a personal audit and work out what you already like about your job or career. These are good guiding points for the next move. Do you like working with others? Going out and about to meetings? The fact you can wear trainers? Often people reach out to me because they may be feeling unfulfilled or unhappy in their jobs, they haven’t been focusing much on the things that are already working for them and that they actually enjoy.”
“It’s also important to look at what skills you’ve built up over the years. Before jumping in the opposite direction you should look at what you already have. Consider that every single job you’ve had in your life or every skill you’ve mastered builds up what I call your ‘career equity’. A common myth in career change is that you need to start from scratch. And what I find with my clients is that when they start to celebrate what they enjoy and are proud of, they immediately start to feel better and see more options”
Don’t you just love the phrase ‘career equity’? I’m certainly guilty of not having had a Liz in my life and made this exact mistake. When I moved from business analysis to writing, I thought I’d leave all my skills behind, and it took me a while to realise that’s not how it works at all. Thankfully, no one can take your experience away from you! Even when the career change seems quite drastic, you always take your toolbox with you, and that’s something you should always be aware (and proud) of!
Start dreaming and create a vision
“Once you’re clear on what you have,” Liz says, “you can start dreaming. I always encourage my clients to really think about how they want their life to be like because any current or future job or career needs to fit in with the type of life they want. Otherwise, changing jobs still won’t get them what they’re after. So I help people to imagine how they want to feel emotionally, financially and socially, for example.” This leads nicely into the next step, which is to create a vision of what you’d like your ideal career to look like.”
Look at your options
“Once my clients create a vision they’re happy with,” Liz proceeded to tell me, “I suggest that they start brainstorming options and opportunities. As soon as we have a few ideas, I encourage them to speak to people they know who work in the areas they may be interested in. At this point, they might come across information they were unaware of, and they might find out the job or career they have in mind doesn’t fit with their vision. I feel it’s really important that they get out there and start having conversations to inform their vision and start honing it down.”
“It’s also important that people recognise whether the changes they’re looking to make match their skills. Maybe they have gaps in skills or experience that they need to fill. Making a change and stepping out of your comfort zone is scary, and that’s one of the main reasons why people fear change and end up remaining stuck. To avoid this, I invite them to visualise what their new job or career is really going to be like, based on the information they’ve gathered.”
Have I ever told you about how when I left my job one of the ideas I wanted to pursue was to start a business making home-made organic children clothing? No? Ah, well. Story for another day. Let’s just say I hadn’t thought that one through. Lucky escape!
“The last step is to take action, a micro action to “step into the shoes”. This helps people to really understand whether the change they have in mind is right for them. After all, by testing your new career hypothesis you minimise the risk and gain more confidence in your decision. Whatever change you want to make starts to feel less terrifying and therefore more actionable. I never encourage my clients to take a big scary leap – I’m a coach, so I never tell people what to do, but I’ll always help them remove resistance, risk, and fear by trying something out before making a major leap. Ideally, we would make it more of a glide, than a leap”.
“So if they want to start a business, for example, I’d help them to brainstorm ways they could test this out before they take the step to hand in their notice at their current job. Could they, for example, dedicate a few hours of their evenings or weekends to testing their new business ideas? Seeing if its a viable idea? Exploring the reality of it? That way they are managing the transition and keeping options open whilst exploring their big, life-changing pivot.”
Feel stuck at work? Want to find out more?
If you’re in the London area, Liz runs regular workshops in Soho and Kew Bridge. She also offers one to one coaching over Skype. Her approach focuses on helping you tune into what you’re good at and to channel your energy on using your strengths to support your next move, whether that’s quitting the 9-5, starting a business or changing industry. If you want to connect with Liz or work with her, you can find her on her website Slick Pivot, or LinkedIn. She is offering 10% off one to one coaching to readers of this blog. Quote: MAMMA when you get in touch.
Thank you, Liz, for all your fantastic advice!
Did you enjoy these tips? Can you think about the things you love about your current job or career?