Christmas and New Year are typically good times for reflection. Times when we think about what’s working well and less well in our lives, including our work or career.
So did you think 2019 was the year you were going to make a career change?
And have you stepped back onto your hamster wheel started peddling furiously and – one month on – done nothing about it?!
It’s hard to change your career. It takes time, headspace, courage, contacts, a plan and so on. It’s much easier to keep on doing what you’re doing even if you’re one of the 32% cited in a recent Deloitte survey who said they weren’t stimulated by their work.
Career Transition Coaching
In my coaching, I get the chance to work with lots of people transitioning in their careers.
Sometimes as part of a redundancy package.
Sometimes as part of a corporate development programme. (Most companies accept that on occasion the result of a Coaching programme is that someone decides to leave).
And sometimes with people who come to me directly. They’ve decided that the time is now and they want help determining what they want to do in their career and how they’re going to get there.
When I work with someone in this way, I’m obviously curious to know how it all works out. I therefore often stay in touch. Occasionally a lovely ex-client will drop me a line out of the blue to let me know how it’s all going which always puts a big smile on my face.
Thus, I thought it might be interesting and hopefully inspiring to run a series of blogs where I interview people who’ve made a major career change in the last year or so to see how it’s worked out for them.
In this first interview, I chat to Alexandra (whose name has been changed to protect her confidentiality) who left corporate life last spring.
Career Change Q&A
When did you make your career change?
Almost a year ago, in the spring of 2018.
What were you doing before you made the career change?
I was working as a Strategy Director for a large corporate business.
What made you make the change?
My role was made redundant as part of a re-structure.
After the initial shock, I realised this was an opportunity to take back some control of my work/life balance. To be able to structure my work more around my family and spend less time away from home. I wanted to become self-employed to give me that flexibility. I didn’t want to wake up in 10 years’ time and feel like I’d missed out on my daughter growing up.
For me, it was invaluable to work with a business coach to drill down into what was most important to me about my future life/career and what I wanted to leave behind.
We seldom take time out to think about ourselves and what we want to be doing in one, five or ten years’ time because we are too busy dealing with the “here and now”.
How did you feel at the time?
Very excited about making a big change (I have always been employed throughout my career) but also unsure about where I would find the right kind of clients to work with.
What are you doing now?
I’m running my own consultancy. I work with a number of fantastic clients, some in industries I haven’t ever worked in before which makes it really interesting.
How did you get to where you are now?
By really thinking it through and taking the best advice.
I had great professional advice from two friends – a lawyer and an accountant/tax advisor who helped me weigh up whether this was the right option for me. They also helped me understand everything involved with running your own business and how to avoid any pitfalls.
I worked with a creative to crystallise what my proposition is. Before you can pitch your services to prospective clients you need to be clear what you do and don’t want to do.
My business coach helped me see all the positives of working for myself and how it linked back to the things that were most important to me.
Once I had the practical side organised the business all came through networking and contacts.
How do you feel right now?
Fantastic. I am loving the independence and being totally in charge of my own time. It can be tiring too – there is a temptation to put in extra hours because you want to deliver outstanding service. You need to be disciplined and know when something’s good enough.
What would you say to other people considering making a career change?
Do it. Businesses are changing the way they work using more freelance and interim people. It often means they can use expertise they wouldn’t have the budget for, to hire full time.
I didn’t realise how transferable my skills were to other industries.
I wondered if I would miss being part of a team but I have found a great network of like-minded people doing their own thing too. We often meet and share ideas. I have enjoyed the balance of some days working in my clients’ offices with their teams and days working at home where I can crack through the detail.
Talk to someone who has made the switch to get advice. Give yourself the time to really consider what you want to do going forward. Get professional advice.
So, it’s early days for Alexandra. However from what I’ve seen and heard from her over the past few months, she hasn’t looked back for a nano-second. She took time out over the Summer, got professional support in a number of different areas, used her existing network wisely and immediately began winning contracts. Oh – and she’s loving every minute of her new career.
So, is 2019 the year you make a career change!?