On 18 June 2006, I jumped out of a plane. Even though it seems like a long time ago, I can still vividly remember kneeling at the edge of the cabin door at a healthy 14,000 feet and completing a tumble turn rotation as I fell out of the plane.I can still vividly remember the icy cold wind slapping against my face during the freefall.I can still vividly remember feeling like I had been momentarily flung into another universe when the parachute opened. And I remember the landing. I felt relief. I was happy. I had just accomplished something I had never thought possible, especially with a fear of heights!
Ten years later, I decided that being an employee was not for me. I left a somewhat safe and secure corporate job to embark on a different journey. One that didn’t involve climbing someone else’s corporate ladder. Little did I realise the journey would not be too dissimilar to jumping out of that plane.Both were life changing moments.
Similar to skydiving, changing jobs, changing careers or totally changing the career path you’re on can be daunting and risky.It can also be fulfilling, rewarding and exciting.Ultimately it’s about confronting, managing and embracing change. There are some effective strategies to explore that can help you get from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow.
Slightly more than half of employees (51%) say they are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Note 1
I can relate to that statistic and I’m sure many of you reading this can too.Being a loyal corporate employee, I spent many years climbing the corporate ladder to dizzy heights. Over a period of time, I lost my drive. I became bored and demotivated and the desire to pursue something else became stronger.
Living a fulfilling and rewarding life and a life of purpose suddenly became paramount and that was only going to happen if I made a significant change. So I decided to ditch the employee life, take on a new challenge and repave the career path.
I imagined life outside corporate employment to be fun, exciting and a new challenge. The best way to describe how it actually turned out was like the parachute jump. There was a mix of emotions – joy and fulfilment when things were good, and fear and overwhelm when the chips were down.
My lessons learnt about major life and career transition, and being bold for change, include being brave, having a desire to make a difference, and being proactive.
To me being brave means being open to taking risks and embracing failure. With increased risk comes the increased potential for failure. It’s easy to mistakenlypersonalise failure. For example, a process fails and we see ourselves as the failure instead of the process.It’s important to distinguish between ‘failing’ and ‘being a failure’ or else the approach of embracing failure becomes harder to do.
Failure hasa negative stigma. Though failure is only ‘bad’ if you don’t learn from it.You need to build a relationship with risks so they become just another challenge, not something to be feared. Taking risks allows for growth personally and professionally.
My first attempt to set up a business failed when a business partnership didn’t work out. I could have dwelled on the consequences and played the blame game. Instead, I made a different choice to restart and rebuild my goals, and renew and recharge my approach. I had spent all my life avoiding failure. Now I understand that it was one of the best things to ever happen to me because, in this case, I was directed to a better path.
Most people striving for career change want to create a different outcome for themselves, or make a difference to others, or both. I believe our desire to create a different future is fuelled by our purpose, our determination and our confidence.When you really want something and you know it is going to provide value or make an impact, it will spur you to keep going and achieve that goal or outcome.
My desire to make a difference to me and others skyrocketed when I spent time understanding who I was outside the employee role. What did I want to stand for, what did I want to be known for and what capabilities could I utilise. In the process I met my strengths and realised that when you apply your strengths, you are more productive and get better results. Focusing on strengths drives fulfilment, motivation and enjoyment, and that makes you feel happy and confident and hence more likely to achieve what you are setting out to do.
In the words of Pablo Picasso, “Action is the foundational key to all success.”
Being proactive doesn’t just mean taking action. It means taking action consistently and purposefully and making things happen. When hurdles such as fear or uncertainty get in the way, it’s the persistence to keep taking steps, no matter how small, that helps to breakdown those hurdles before they become problems.
Proactivity is also about seeking out opportunity rather than waiting for something to land. It involves turning the attitude from, “I’ll make a move to change career when the time is right”, to “l’ll seek out the companies/people/learning platforms in the space I want to be to encourage my success.”
We are also a lot better at taking action when we surround ourselves with amazing people to motivate and inspire us. An adviser, a mentor or being part of supportive communities can help with feedback, clarity and expertise.
If you’re considering making a career change and taking a big leap, strap on your parachute.
Being bold for career change involves being brave, wanting to make a difference, and being proactive to take action for the benefit of others and for you.
“If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” Jim Rohn
Harter, J and Adkins, A, 2017, Are Your Star Employees Slipping Away?, Gallup Business Journal, viewed 9 April 2017, http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/204248/star-employees-slipping-away.aspx?g_source=EMPLOYEE_ENGAGEMENT&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles