The 3 Worst Mistakes to Make When Changing Careers
You’re miserable in your job, you were fed up with your previous job and you’re slowly coming to the conclusion that the industry you chose for yourself as an undergraduate isn’t working out the way you’d hoped.
You’ve decided it’s time to make a career change.
Many people grapple with how to make a successful career change and make a few common, avoidable mistakes. If you’re considering a career change, here are three errors you should watch out for:
1. Keeping your struggles in your head
This is the most common mistake I see as a career coach. It’s made so often I’ve coined a name for it: early dismissal.
Here’s how early dismissal works. You come up with an appealing career idea, like being an architect. You initially feel optimistic and hopeful about your future life designing buildings. You happily imagine all the wonderful aspects of the job.
And then, just as quickly, doubts begin to creep in. You start to wonder if you’re cut out for all that schooling. You recall that your uncle, who worked as an architect, often complained about his job. And you never were great at drawing. With a sigh, you mentally cross off the possibility of going down this career path.
The following week you run through the whole process again with a new profession.
The symptoms of early dismissal are frustration and confusion about your career direction. There’s also a distinct lack of any action in the real world. Everything occurs in your head.
The solution to early dismissal is to get out of your head, talk to people and test out your ideas in the real world. (Click to Tweet!) Give yourself the opportunity to get as clear as possible about what your day-to-day life would be like in the profession you’re considering.
By doing this, you’ll get a more accurate understanding of whether or not you’re on the right track. Plus, by connecting with people in your desired field, you’ll naturally set yourself up for being able to network into a job.
2. Confusing short- and long-term goals
What do you do when you want to leave your job right away and make a bigger career change?
People frequently get confused in this situation. They know they want to make a big career change, but they also know they can’t immediately make the jump to a new field. After all, making a career change can take some time. You might need to go back to school, work at an entry-level position to gain experience or learn the ropes of running your dream business.
When you’re faced with a lengthy timeframe for making a change, you might wonder if you should ditch your bigger dream entirely since it won’t happen right away.
It means you should approach leaving your job and building your new career path as two separate tasks. First, handle the short-term goal of finding a new job you’re qualified for. Then tackle the long-term goal of building toward your career change.
3. Trapping yourself with a negative outlook
Nobody’s positive all the time, but if you find yourself getting Eeyore-ish about your future prospects, it’s time to take note. Your negative thoughts influence your actions. If you’re constantly thinking, “No one will ever hire me,” you might not bother to apply for jobs.
There are two main warning signs that your thoughts are impeding your progress. One, you feel discouraged, stuck or hopeless. Two, you aren’t taking action toward your goals.
Step back and notice what you’re thinking. Write down these thoughts and look at how they’re impacting the way you’re feeling and acting. Doing this will decrease your attachment to unhelpful thought patterns.
Next, try to find a perspective that feels more empowering and motivating. You can change your mindset from “I’m not experienced enough for this job” to “I am capable of learning how to do this job.” Choose a thought that feels better and that you actually believe, and look for evidence of why this new thought is true.
It’s possible to make a career change, but it does take a willingness to try new things, patience and a positive outlook. This may sound like a tall order, but remember that the reward of a new, better-fitting career will be worth it.
Have you gone through a career change? What helped you through it? Leave a comment below!
Alison Elissa Horner is a career coach who specializes in helping people figure out their career direction. She is currently offering a free telecourse called “Creating a Winning Career Plan,” and she also writes free weekly tips on navigating your career that you can sign up for here.
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