It’s been another great week! Pinch me… Two clients got job offers in the past week and another is so close to getting one, I can taste it. How delicious!
A few weeks ago, I had the honor to co-moderate a panel discussion at the Newton Free Library (in Newton, MA) entitled, “Successful Transitions in Tough Times.” We had three outstanding panelists, all of whom had engaged in significant career transitions in the past few years, coupled with a lively audience who asked great questions and shared their wisdom as well. The evening provided tremendous value, information and inspiration to everyone in the room. I want to share these top 10 recommendations that were raised consistently amongst the panelists and which seemed to resonate strongly with all of us in attendance.
- Being good at something doesn’t mean you love it. This point was raised by panelist Valerie Littlefield (thanks Val!) and reinforced by the other panelists. It reminded me of an example I often use with my career coaching clients, i.e. I am really good at cleaning toilets, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that I want to clean toilets for a living. It’s important to distinguish between your talent, your competence and the level of enjoyment you derive from engaging in a particular activity. Too often people choose their career based on what they do well, with less regard for how much pleasure they derive from the activity. In my opinion, it’s the integration of competence and enjoyment that provides the best formula for a satisfying career.
- Pay attention to those multiple taps on your shoulder and respond to them! There are two primary sources of these taps: one is your inner voice, a.k.a. your intuition and the other is feedback from other outside sources. Valerie Littlefield spoke about the consistent feedback she got from others regarding areas in which they felt she made significant contributions along the way, and she realized that she was intuitively drawn to those activities as well. Hence, she transitioned from a career in information technology to her current work in human resources.
- Volunteer work or internships can provide a bridge to transition. Panelist Karen Albert described her transition from a career in recruiting and training to marketing in the fashion industry to her current career in volunteer and community outreach at SOAR 55, a program of the Newton Community Service Center where she recruits professional and experienced adults 55 and over to serve in nonprofits and public service organizations. All of the panelists spoke about the key role volunteer work played in their transitions. It helped them to gain experience they would not have had otherwise, allowed them to make connections in new fields and with people who could support them along the way. It is important to add here that internships are no longer just for college students and new grads. Many career changers are doing internships or shadowing other professionals to develop their knowledge and experience in new arenas. Try it…you’ll like it!
- Network, network, network… This cannot be emphasized enough, especially in the current job market. All of our panelists talked about the numbers of people they reached out to for information and resources that pointed them in many productive directions.
- Make it meaningful. A key ingredient for all of the panelists was their engagement in a process that was propelled by the desire for something meaningful and fulfilling. Panelist Kristen Hann pointed to her process as an evolution and that much of its meaningfulness was not immediately apparent to others. She shared with us the image of an iceberg, noting that much of the iceberg develops beneath the surface. Sometimes the meaning is available to us at a deeper level and the results may only show up as the tip (of the iceberg) above the surface.
- Stay open and curious. Kristen Hann emphasized this perspective as she talked about her early careers, first in the high tech industry, then to working for a non-profit spiritual center and having a coaching practice, then returning to her information technology skill set in a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. By staying open and curious, internally and externally, Kristen has been able to be true to her “calling” to help people and organizations gain the clarity and systems they need to move forward.
- Create a system of accountability. No one is successful in a vacuum. Most of us can point to people or resources that helped us achieve a goal or arrive at a point of clarity that propelled us to a more meaningful engagement. Kristen and our other panelists recommended (and I wholeheartedly agree) that you develop a network of support and accountability to help you continue on your transition journey. Don’t do it alone! Develop a partnership with a friend, hire a coach or join a group of like-minded people who are ready to provide mutual support and encouragement. A great place to begin is to search on www.meetup.com for a group in your area that shares your interests. I also highly recommend that you contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complimentary coaching consultation!
- Make fear your ally. Over the course of the evening with the panel, many audience members shared their fears about networking and the job search, stating that it left them feeling stuck or paralyzed in the process. While this is a normal human response to the process of change, it is hard to think of fear as your ally, isn’t it? First, fear and excitement are often similar feelings. If you think about it, fear can be a signal to you that something is exciting in a not-too-dangerous way. When you feel fear, stop and think. Ask yourself: Am I in danger or am I excited about something that is also a little frightening because I truly want it? If it is the latter, those feelings of fear can serve you well in getting you to think and move towards something you truly want for yourself.
- Believe that you will get to the point you are meant to be. Each of the panelists talked about the experience of their transitions as a process in which they struggled with and eventually trusted their intuition. Based on those reflections, they could see that believing in the possibility of achieving a goal increased the likelihood of a satisfying outcome. While this may sound quite simple, it is not a straightforward path, yet believing or visualizing a positive outcome can be powerful in making something actually happen in your favor.
- Make use of resources to inspire and inform. Valerie recommended a book that served as a guide in her transition: Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot by Max Lucado. Two books that I recommend to people considering a career transition are: Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra and Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck.
What resources or sources of inspiration have been instrumental in any transitions you have made in your career or life? I’d like to hear about them. Send me a note or leave a comment here.
Wishing you only the best,