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Change your career from your deckchair

Are thoughts of work intruding on your holiday? Are you ready for change? With award-winning coach Kim Morgan’s accessible guide, you’ll return home with a plan, as well as a suntan

by Psychologies

Holidays give you the chance to switch off… but if, after the first few days of escape, you find thoughts of work creeping into your head, you are not alone. Many of us return home resolved to change our working situation, but with no clear way forward. 

Being away from it all is the ideal opportunity to think through what it is that’s niggling you in your job, and also to work out how to improve things, or whether it’s time to make a change. So, from the comfort of your lounger, follow these five steps to achieve clarity and devise a plan.

1: The moment of truth

You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, so the first step is to have a long, hard look at your current situation. Ask yourself the following questions about your job:

  • What do I still enjoy and what do I dislike?
  • What would I miss about it?
  • How did I feel when I got the job?
  • What has changed since then? 
  • How do I feel when I wake up on a working day – am I ready to leap out of bed or not?
  • What circumstances would have to change for me to want to stay in my current job?

It’s really important to explore your reasons for feeling dissatisfied at work. A recent study by LinkedIn revealed the main reasons why people decide to change their careers – these included dissatisfaction with senior management or the culture of the organisation; their work-life balance; wanting to take on a more challenging role or earning a better salary; and being curious about working in a different industry.

Understanding your reasons for wanting to change jobs will ensure that you don’t jump from the frying pan into the fire, and possibly find yourself facing the same difficulties in your next position. 

2: What do I really want and what matters to me?

Not wanting to stay in your current job is one thing, but actually knowing what you want to do next is an altogether different challenge. 

To help you identify what you want, and what really matters to you, write a letter – which you will not send – to a friend. Write the letter as if you are corresponding with them many years from now. Imagine you are looking back and telling your friend about your life and your work. Include the high points in your career, and what made you feel proud, fulfilled and happy. Tell your friend what you would like to be remembered for, and what gave your life meaning.  

Writing this letter as if you have already had the career of your dreams will help you to identify your values, and really engage with what matters to you in your work.  

When you have finished, read your letter through carefully and make a list of the values you have identified and what you need to have in your professional life to make you feel fulfilled and happy.

3: What do I have to offer?

If you are going to put yourself out there and start looking for a new job, you will need to identify what you have to offer. There is no room for ‘Imposter Syndrome’ when you are job-hunting. Imposter Syndrome leads you to feel like a fraud, to put your achievements down to luck, think that other people have an overinflated view of you, and discount your successes. 

Here’s how you can combat Imposter Syndrome and realise all the transferable skills you have:

Without being modest, make a list of all of the following (they don’t have to be specifically work-related):

  • Your passions. What do you love doing?
  • Your strengths. What are you good at?
  • Your experiences. What have you been through, learned, survived and achieved?
  • Your talents. What additional gifts or skills do you have?
  • Your uniqueness. What makes you ‘you’? What words do others use to describe you?

Ask someone whose opinion you really trust and respect – perhaps your holiday companion – to help contribute to the list.

Read through and evaluate the list, then think about possible careers or roles that would suit the unique qualities that you offer.  

4: My network

The LinkedIn survey also revealed that the number one way people hear about new positions is from someone that they already know. Your network can be a valuable resource when you’re looking to change your job or career. 

Take a pen and paper and draw a ‘mind map’ of all the people you know. Start with yourself in the middle and draw lines connecting you to other people in your life. Then draw lines connecting them to people in their lives who could be helpful to you. Include people who can support you; who are already doing the sort of work that you would like to do; who inspire you; and people who can introduce you to others – such as colleagues,  social media contacts, relatives, neighbours, or school or university friends.  

Make a note of some of the people who you will contact on your return from holiday. 

5: Review and action plan

Drawing on what you have learned from the first four steps, answer the following questions to create an action plan to keep up the momentum for change when you get home from your trip:

  • What is my career goal?
  • When do I want to achieve it?
  • Why do I want it?
  • What is the first step I need to take to move closer to my goal?
  • Who can support me in my career change?
  • When will I contact them?
  • What information do I need and how can I get it?
  • What additional skills do I need and how can I get them?
  • What will happen if I don’t make this change?
  • How will I feel when I have achieved my goal?

Finally, send a postcard to yourself explaining why this change is important to you. It will help to motivate you to keep working on it when you are back in everyday life.

For more from Kim, go to barefootcoaching.co.uk.

Photograph: iStock

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