The Smart Conscious Woman’s Guide to Changing Careers (detailed post)
Most people who try to change careers fail. But this guide’s not about ‘most people’. It’s about smart, conscious women like you. Women who want to make a difference with their work, women who have the brains to do so and women who are kind, optimistic, and care about the legacy they leave behind in the world.
And women like you my dear, have everything you need to succeed….except a plan. Which is what this guide is: a plan or collection of strategies to help you persist until you make it. Because the work you were born to do is out there waiting for you. And I’m here to help you find it.
The first thing to digest is this. The way most people change careers won’t work for you. If we take a look at how most people approach this type of topic, the key things we’re told to focus on are…
- Finding work based on your experience
- Using your transferable skills
- Following your passion
The thing is, this cookie cutter advice neglects the one thing that’s most important to you as a mindful, conscious human being: making a difference.
If you’ve read this far, I’m guessing that’s something you care about. You’re not interested in a typical career change; you want to do something that really matters. And the truth is, most career coaches completely skip this part of the equation.
Alas, not me. Because I was once where you’re standing now. And I get how it feels to be working so hard for something that you know deep down, is completely meaningless, or worse, in my case, lacking integrity.
I remember very clearly the moment my soul said enough was enough. And I knew that lining the pockets of the biggest (and most corrupt) companies in the world just wasn’t what I was put on the planet to do. And so right there and then I made a decision that something had to change.
Fast forward half a decade and I now get to do something that I know, hand on heart, is making a positive difference in the world.
So, now it’s over to you dear one. You have the chance to make your life count. Don’t waste it.
Below are a collection of strategies and heartfelt tips to assist you on your journey. They aren’t the complete package, but they are things I’ve learned after spending a few years helping beautiful conscious women like you go through this type of transition. And the women I’ve helped have come from countries as widespread as the USA, Iceland, Germany, Botswana and Brunei (73 different countries to be exact). So I know they work.
Strategy 1: Know Your Values
“Never allow the things that matter to you most, be at the mercy of those that do not.” If we allow our careers to be led by things that we don’t care about, then we end up feeling deeply unfulfilled.
This is the crux of personal values. Our values are those things that matter most to us; and the operative word in the sentence is ‘us’. It’s about understanding deeply, what it is that we really care about.
This is important when you’re staring down the barrel of a career change because your career needs to be aligned with your values.
The sad thing is, what I’m seeing in the world today, is a hell of a lot of people in careers that are not aligned to their values and it recently dawned on me why. After speaking to hundreds of women on the subject over the years, I noted the same themes coming up. People were chasing careers based on what society had told them would make them happy.
I’m talking about empty values like ‘fame’, ‘wealth’ and ‘status’. These are the values that see you selling your soul. These are the values that saw me chasing the title of ‘Director’ and the wealth of working with multinational corporate companies. These are the values that led me to feeling deeply miserable and unfulfilled. Maybe you know what I’m talking about?
So how do you figure out what YOUR values are? Well, typically I use a process of strategic questioning. It’s quite a lengthy process to define your core 7 values, but I like to do a mini values workshop to get people started. I’m doing one in my most recent training, which you can sign up for, for free:
Register here for my FREE 90 minute training>> My 3 Step Process to Find a More Meaningful Career you Love.
Strategy 2: Get your mind right
I like to think of my mind as a compass. When it’s pointed in the right direction, I get to my destination (not without struggle, but I get there). When however, my mind is pointed in the wrong direction, things get real hard and I often end up somewhat off course (this is usually accompanied with a foul mood and a pounding headache).
It’s the same with changing careers. It’s a daunting task. We spend our whole lives doing one (or more) things and then mid-life, we have an inkling that we’re headed in the wrong direction (yes another compass reference). The truth is, changing careers is an almighty transition, a fun one (if you let it be), but still, an extraordinary feat. And this is why we must get our minds right. Without the right mind, we are destined to fail.
When I first launched my career change program I didn’t have a specific section on mindset, but I quickly learned that this would be the thing that had the most impact on my student’s success. I saw over and over again, the students who successfully transitioned were the ones who had the right mindset. And the ones who struggled, had started with a wonky compass.
So lets take this metaphor literal. How do we set the mind (or the compass) right? Well, we have to have the right attitude. We have to believe on some level that no matter what, we will succeed. In my training with my students, I like to show them this chart:
It’s called the belief model and it’s based on the principles of Neuro Linguistic Programming (I have a diploma in NLP and integrate it with a lot of my work). NLP proposes that our beliefs drive our behaviour. The chart shows this:
- Potential ~ this is our potential, what we are capable of achieving in our careers
- Action ~ NLP states that we take action based on our perceived potential
- Results ~ we then achieve results based on the actions we have taken
- Beliefs ~ our results reinforce our initial beliefs about ourselves and our potential
Let me explain this further ~ take the first point. If we believe we have a lot of potential in our career then we are likely to take a lot of action, which creates our desired result and reinforces our original belief that, yes, we had a lot of potential to begin with.
Conversely, if we believe that we don’t have much potential (or we doubt that we can change careers from say, a lawyer to a cognitive scientist), then we’re unlikely to take much action towards changing careers (because we believe that it’s not possible, so why bother taking action). This lack of action drives poor results, which reinforces our original belief, that we didn’t have the potential to make the career change after all. And thus the vicious cycle ensues.
This is really just science backing up a very well known theory: The self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ultimately, you HAVE to BELIEVE that it IS possible for you to become whatever you want to become. Kind of ironic isn’t it?
And speaking of a Lawyer changing into a Cognitive Scientist – I know that IS possible because one of my students made that exact change just last week. You can see her telling me about it here:
Strategy 3: Get into the FLOW
World renowned Psychologist and social scientist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi knows a thing or two about what makes us happy. He boils it down to an elusive term he calls ‘FLOW.’
Flow is a state that should be felt often in our careers and it’s an indicator that we’re truly aligned to what we’re doing. I recommend to all my students that they find their flow early on in the career transition process, because it’s a key component of a happy and fulfilling career.
When we’re in the flow, we’re typically operating from our zone of genius. Flow, as a state, is autotelic ~ we do it for no reason other than the experience its-self. In other words, we do it for the love. What Mihaly’s research is pointing to here is; to enjoy the journey. I’ve witnessed so many of my students rush to the end goal, the career transition its-self, instead of purely enjoying the ride. The ride is where the magic happens, because, this is where we get to explore doing what we love and what makes us tick.
Mihaly’s 60 years of research has found that flow is characterised as a state where time stands still, where we’re so focussed on what we’re doing that time has no bounds. It’s a state of pure presence, a sense of serenity distinctly lacking in worries of failure.
There are no distractions when in the flow and all self-consciousness disappears ~ we are not aware of the self or the body. Flow is serene and peaceful. And it’s a must.
The good news is, everyone can find their flow ~ and it can be from the most ubsurd of actions. Mihaly speaks of a man who found his flow when filleting salmon. To him, what might be considered to others as a laborious or boring job was pure art. He would watch the way the fillets would hit the marble, each displaying a unique 3D skeletal structure. To this man, the act of filleting salmon was a sacred art form.
Strategy 4: Avoid the passive income trap
On my own career journey I’ve taken the odd wrong turn. One of those very wrong turns was an interest in generating passive income. It was a mistake and one that haunts me. It’s hard to avoid the people coming at you from all angles shouting form the rooftops about earning money while they sleep. Not that it was ever about the money for me, it was the lifestyle that passive income can afford you that piqued my interest the most. Nonetheless, I found a way to very successfully generate passive income.
In one particular year I generated over $300,000 through an automated marketing funnel. During this time I didn’t have to do a hell of a lot, maybe 1-2 hours of work each week. But the odd thing was, it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Because I’m like you, and it’s not about the money for me, it’s about the meaning and fulfillment.
There’s nothing fulfilling about passive income. So don’t get sucked in to finding a new career that means you don’t have to work. The point is, to find a career that you don’t want to escape from, and something that really means something to you.
Don’t get me wrong, I still loved being able to service and help people with my passive income model, but, it was somewhat removed. And I realised this: I love to create in my career. I’m more excited and fulfilled by the process of creating things each week (writing articles like this, filming videos, creating content) than I am about sitting on a beach sipping cocktails watching the money come in. The idea of that actually doesn’t excite me. And trust me, while the idea sounds fancy, it wont excite you after the novelty wears off either which brings me to my next strategy…
Strategy 5: Look for the Meaning
In his book High Performance Habits, Brendan Burchard says that ‘striving for a meaningful life is one of the main factors associated with psychological well-being.’
Put simply, meaning matters. We all know how it feels to be stuck in a job that lacks meaning. It sucks. It’s very difficult to feel fulfilled by our work when we have a deep belief that it is meaningless.
So what makes our work more meaningful? Well, it’s different for everyone. But one aspect is that our work goes beyond our own personal gain. In some way, we’re contributing to others, or a cause that’s important to us. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we all have to go work for a not-for-profit or set up shop as a therapist to help others. It can be more subtle than that.
Personal trainers for example help others to become more fit and healthy, and while they aren’t saving the world, they are leaving a positive impact on others. One student I worked with decided to work for a speaker’s bureau and quickly realised that she would be making an impact on people’s lives by providing inspiring, engaging speaker engagements.
For others meaning may be more reflective of the opportunity to be authentic in our work. There’s nothing more meaningful than being able to be 100%, no filters barred, ‘who we really are.’ Often, this feeling of authenticity is enough to fill the job-satisfaction hole that so often exists in the professional sphere.
Joseph Campbell once said: ‘The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe to it.’. Ultimately, you decide.
Strategy 6: Figure out what you really want
Don Herold once said: “Unhappiness is not knowing what we want and killing ourselves to get it.”
The truth is, career success can only be defined internally. You get to choose, so choose wisely. When I work with my students, the ones who struggle the most are the ones who haven’t clearly defined what they want.
While society dictates and reflects back to us it’s own superficial values (status, wealth, fame), we must have the courage to fight for what WE really want. This means of course, identifying WHAT specifically, it is, that we want.
Over the course of helping hundreds of women through this process I’ve seen it all. While for one person, lifestyle and flexibility with working hours may be the absolute number 1 priority (usually to free up space to spend more time with loved ones and children), for others it might be all about making an impact in the world.
It’s not easy to work out what we want. Maybe you’ve noticed that? We’re so affected by what we think we should want, what society dictates will make us happy and also our stage in life. For many, by a certain age, we feel like we should have achieved certain things (even if those certain things are not important to us ~ the job title, the house, the marriage, the children). This is a one way ticket to misery, because vigorously chasing something without really knowing why, will only end up in confusion and burn out. Imagine wasting your whole life pursing something only to get to the end and realise you didn’t really want it in the first place. Many people do.
But you my dear friend must not. Your life is worth more than that and this is why you must stop the relentless minutia of life, you must press pause, gather your thoughts and figure out what it is that you really want. Only then, can you move forward vigorously towards your career destination.
There are ways to make the process simpler. For me , I created a strategic roadmap to follow that takes all the guesswork out. You can learn about it in my most recent free online training: My 3 Step Process To Find More Meaningful Work You Love.
It’s an in-depth, 90 minute masterclass where I take you through my process and share inspiring examples of other people who have made really incredible career changes.
Strategy 7: Embrace the hurdles
One of my all time favourite books is ‘The Obstacle is the Way’ by Ryan Holiday. It’s a book on stoicism. Holiday shares examples of iconic historical figures who were able to conquer adversity by turning that very adversity into the solution.
Imagine if you could take all the challenges around your career and turn them into the answers. It’s an advanced way of thinking, but one that will serve you well.
The thing about career change is, there are a lot of false notions. The idea of a perfect career, where you wake up every day loving what you do, is one of those notions. I’ve seen this false notion literally freeze people in their tracks, as they desperately try to find this elusive magical career where nothing ever goes wrong.
News flash: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No one can escape the duality that exists in the world. Hot, cold, up, down, good, bad. We’re all bound by this law, and our career is no exception.
What this means is that even in our most perfectly aligned careers, we will indeed face hurdles. We will indeed have crappy days. And we will indeed have to do some things that we don’t want to do.
The bold among us (hint: the ones who will succeed) are the ones who make peace with this. I talked about this in a recent Facebook Livestream; how the people at the top, doing the work they love, only ever share the good bits (we don’t hear Beyonce moaning about the press tours, or the lack of privacy, we only hear about how lucky she feels to live her dream).
The irony is that these people at the top, who are doing what they love ~ they expect to also do the crap parts of their job too. They know it’s a part of the deal. And yet still, they are 100% fulfilled and happy with their careers.
If we want to find work that we love, we must be willing to face the hurdles and face them gracefully and with tenacity. Herein lies one of the secrets behind successful career transition.
If you want to go deeper I hope to see you at my latest training; 3 Step Process to Find More Meaningful Work You Love.
Zoe B x