A good number of people I encounter, talk about doing something different in their careers. For those individuals who cultivate the courage to pursue career reinvention, there are stark differences in the thinking and behaviors between those who succeed and those who don't. Here are my observations based on several years working with dozens of aspiring career reinventors.
Of all of the monsters lurking in the dark and keeping us from moving forward or onward to new career adventures, fear is the most potent. Kicking fear to the curb through deliberate action is key to overcoming the gravitational pull it exerts on our lives and careers.
Finding a new job and finding a new career are two very different activities. For the former, it often pays to be opportunistic. However, for career reinventors, waiting or hoping for someone else to show up with your idea for your next professional move is mostly an exercise in futility. Career reinvention is a full contact, immersive, and deliberate activity.
The biggest challenge faced by many individuals who desperately believe they need to do something different with their careers is moving from recognition to action. Here are some ideas to help you start moving.
For some individuals navigating the mid-career blahs involves taking on added job responsibilities or even changing positions within their firms. Others seek out new experiences by shifting firms or possibly taking on like-kind roles in new industries.While there’s work involved in all of those cases, the degree of difficulty is relatively low for job changers compared to the challenges faced by those I reference as career reinventors. For this latter group, the process of determining what to do is the first big challenge.
The decision to embark on a career reinvention process is non-trivial. If you do, prepare yourself for a process that includes ample learning and regular iteration between the stages. Much like running a marathon, your commitment to sustaining the process determines your outcome.
The term, attitude gets a bad rap most of the time. We associate attitude with words such as bad, uncooperative, truculent, antagonistic. When was the last time you heard someone say, “That person has an attitude,” and you interpreted it as a compliment? Attitude needs a p.r. campaign.
If you’re feeling that tug of “It’s time to do something different,” it pays to spend some time sorting through whether you are best served by a job change or a wholesale career shift. As you might imagine, the two paths are radically different in scale, scope, timing, effort, and risk.
For many of us, the idea of an encore career is an appealing fantasy that never grows closer or more tangible. At least part of the problem for why we remain locked in place stems from our attempt to answer the wrong question. Try a simple reframe of the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" to open the floodgates of ideas essential to help us move from fantasy to reality. We have some great design thinkers to thank for this simple, powerful reframe.
There's a process to reinventing your career. Unfortunately, for those who like things nice and tidy and linear, the process regularly involves pivoting and back-tracking plus the occasional unanticipated course correction. And while there's no straight line or stage-gate process, the general flow of your career reinvention work eventually passes through these six steps.