Before we get into session 4 I want to check in with you to see how you went with your activities for session 3 on Improving your alignment for greater success. What were your wins, challenges and insights?
Take a moment to write your thoughts in your journal
You are now half way through the program so this is a good time to look back and see how far you’ve come. I encourage you to review all your journal entries and answer these questions:
- What have I learnt about myself?
- How have my thoughts changed during the program?
- What thoughts have remained consistent?
- What am I struggling with?
- What decisions have I made?
Write your thoughts in your journal
Overview of this session
In session 4 we’re going to look at step 3 in the pivot process: Setting a new direction that works for you. Now that you’re in alignment it’s time to start thinking about where you could go next with your career. We’re going to take the thoughts you’ve written down and start applying them. So this session will look at:
- Getting clear on where you are now before you set a new direction
- 4 simple steps to help you identify your new direction
- Understanding the 16 different types of pivots you can choose from
- How to determine what type of pivot is right for you
Remember to use the worksheet to record your answers or copy and paste the questions into your electronic journal. You’ll also find some bonus activities to help you fast track your progress.
Getting clear on where you are now before you set a new direction
The first thing any dancer does before starting to pivot is figure out where they are right now. That awareness of your current situation is vital when making your next move. If you don’t you could end up making the wrong decision and colliding with an obstacle.
When you’re contemplating a career pivot it’s also easy to get carried away and have knee jerk reactions rather than make well thought out decisions. That often happens because you’re not looking at your situation with your eyes open. Maybe you’ve had the experience of watching someone resign in a fit of anger only to later retract it. Maybe you’ve done it yourself. I don’t want you to take a leap into the unknown and risk damaging your career. I also don’t want you to stay where you are because you’re uncertain what to do next. I want this to be a well calculated move that gives you maximum impact for minimum effort.
Earlier in the program we looked at analysing your career history to help you determine your future career. Now I want to spend some time looking at your career present so you know exactly where you’re starting from. Think of it as being like a “you are here” sign on a map. Without knowing where you’re starting from you might take the most difficult path to your final destination and maybe even have a few unwanted detours along the way. If you’ve ever had the experience of your car’s GPS sending you the long way around you’ll know how frustrating that can be.
So here are 5 ways to analyse your current career before you consider a new direction. Ask yourself:
What are the positives of your current career? Most people who sign up for this program are in careers that are good but not great. That’s what makes it hard for them to take action. The good news is this means that there must be some aspects of their career that are positive. So what is good about your current career? There was usually a reason you started down this career path. Now is the time to remind yourself what it was. So do you:
- Enjoy the people you work with
- Like the industry you work in
- Get satisfaction out of helping customers
- Feel your skills and talents are being used
- Like being challenged to solve problems
Don’t focus on answers like comfort or security as they’re not helpful. There must be more than that going for a career. Plus, they can easily be taken away from you by decisions beyond your control.
What are the negatives in your current career? This question should be relatively easy. What is frustrating you about your current career? Is it the:
- Tasks you have to perform
- People have to deal with
- Location where you work
- Hours you have to work
- Lack of flexibility
- Absence of control
- Rewards you’re getting or not getting
- Policies and procedures you have to follow
- Proposed future direction of the organisation
- A lack of purpose
Analyse why this is an issue. Look past individual events or examples and see if you can identify a pattern or root cause. For example, having one difficult colleague is not a good enough reason to do a career pivot. Chances are there will be someone difficult at your next situation. Knowing that you don’t agree with the values of everyone you work with is a different thing.
What’s missing from your current career that you need? You might find that your motivation for a career pivot is to get something that’s missing in your current career. It could be that you want to:
- Give back to the community
- Have a sense of satisfaction or pride
- See how the end results of your work helps others
- Have the opportunity to innovate
- Deal directly with customers
- Get out of your comfort zone on a regular basis
- Work hours that let you have a personal life
What is influencing your current thinking? From time to time we all find ourselves questioning our situation and wondering if this career is right for us. That can happen for many reasons including:
- Busy time of the year in your industry
- A recent negative performance review
- Changes going on in your role
- Had a disagreement with someone you work with
- Envious of a friend or colleague’s recent career win
- Just had a significant birthday
- Going through a major life stage transition
- Had a recent health scare
- Lost someone close to you
- Going through a change in your relationship status
All these events can be unsettling. You need to figure out if they are short term issues that will pass or if they represent important parts of your core that need to be addressed.
Where will you end up if you keep going in this direction? The final question actually asks you to look ahead. It’s about considering “if I do nothing where will I be in 2, 5 or 10 years from now?” Think about:
- What’s the next logical step for you in this career, if there even is one?
- How will this impact your health or relationships if you continue?
- What is the outlook for your industry/organisation/occupation?
- How will you feel about remaining in this career?
So what does your current career look like?
- What are the positives in my current career?
- What are the negatives in my current career?
- What’s missing from my current career that I need?
- What factors are influencing my current thinking?
- Where will I end up if I keep going in this direction?
Write your answers on the worksheet
This activity is also designed to give you a reality check and help you to get your current situation in proportion. Sometimes we get caught up in minor annoyances in our career that can cloud our thinking. No career is perfect and it’s unrealistic to think that doing a pivot will give you a career without challenges. You just want the right challenges.
Look at your answers and start to analyse them based on their impact. How much each is one adding or detracting from your career satisfaction?
|Aspect||Impact (-5 to +5)|
|Positives||-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5|
|Negatives||-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5|
|Missing||-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5|
|Influences||-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5|
|Future||-5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5|
Write your answers on the worksheet
4 simple steps to help you identify your new direction
Now that you’re clear on where you are let’s start looking at where you want to go next. I don’t want you to starting considering factors like salaries, number of jobs available or qualifications required. I think this is the wrong way to go about it. Instead, think about the general direction you want your career to go in. Careers are no longer linear. They are far more likely to follow a winding path. Instead of just anticipating your final destination you need to ensure you enjoy the journey along the way. That way if you get off track or never reach your planned destination you’ll still have a satisfying career.
That’s why I want to continue the idea of the “you are here” marker that you see on a map and show you a compass to guide you to your next destination. Here’s what those compass points stand for when it comes to a career pivot:
North is What This represents the type of work your attracted to. It’s about the tasks you’ll perform each day. Do your prefer work that is physical, mental, emotional or a combination? Do you want a role that is fast paced and constantly changing or an environment that moves slowly and deliberately? Will the work be project oriented or ongoing? Do you want work that is practical or theoretical?
South is Who This represents the type of people you want to spend time with. Consider your peers, customers and suppliers. Think about what cultures, ages, genders and personal circumstances they might have. Then imagine how many people you’ll deal with, how often you’ll see them and how you’ll interact with them. Will it be face to face, online or both? Do you want ongoing relationships with them or are you happy for them to change constantly?
East is Where This represents the location you’ll work. Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors? Do you want to be in a big city, small town or a remote location? Do you want to be land based or spend time in the air or at sea? Are you working in an office, a factory, a hotel or somewhere else? Will you work in one place or a variety of places that mean you need to travel on a regular basis?
West is When This is about the timing of your work. What hours of the day will you work? How many days of the week? How many hours will you work at a time? Will the work be seasonal or consistent? How often will your hours vary? How much control will you have over when you work? How much time off will you have each week, month or year?
Some of these aspects might seem minor but in my experience they are often the things that trip people up. Many career goals can be fulfilled in multiple ways. The key is to find the combination of factors that is right for your skills, talents and interests.
Think about how many different ways someone with an accounting degree can work. It could be:
- Small, medium or large organisation
- In the finance department or for a professional services firm
- For profit or for a community group
- Recording earnings or investigating issues
- In the back office or dealing with customers
Start thinking about what your compass looks like. There will be lots of ideas in the notes you’ve taken in the previous sessions to give you hints about what’s right for you.
Write your answers on the worksheet
Understanding the different types of pivot you can choose from
When I talk about doing a pivot I’m actually talking about a range of different options you have for achieving your dream career. There is quite a variety to choose from so there is bound to be something to suit you. Some will be well known to you and others will be new concepts. So far I’ve come up with 16 options but I’m sure there are more.
From doing to leading Let’s start with a well known pivot: moving into leadership. The sales person is made the sales manager allowing them to use their knowledge of selling to leader their old team or a new team. This is often seen as the next logical step in a career but it’s only right for you if you have the skills and desire to do it. In my experience it’s also the pivot people regret especially if they were pushed into it against their will.
From leading to doing You may have tried leading for a while and realised that you miss doing the “technical work” and want to go back to being a sales person. You need to be clear on whether you’re making this move because you love sales and miss it or you just find leading too difficult. Maybe you just need more support or development to lead.
From doing to showing others If you’re passionate about what you do and have good communication skills you can become a workplace trainer showing other people how to do the technical work. Alternatively, you could become a TAFE or university lecturer in your field. Both options allow you to keep up with your professional but give you an opportunity to help others.
From doing to helping others A slightly different pivot is to help others by becoming a coach or consultant and supporting others. This could be with your existing organisation or by joining a company that hires out their staff to work with clients. This implies that you’re good at analysing other people’s situations to provide them with advice.
From doing to representing others You might like to use your experience to represent the interests of people from your occupation. This could be by joining a professional association, becoming an advocate or working as a government advisor. In all cases your goal is to improve conditions for your peers.
New role in your current organisation If your organistion is large enough you can make a lateral move into a completely different role bringing with you company knowledge. It could be moving from production to sales, administration to human resources or from a field role to head office. This is often seen as a stepping stone for moving into senior leadership later on.
New industry If you enjoy your work you might just need to consider a different industry. You might want to stay in your sector but try a different focus such as professional services to finance or hospitality to health care. You could also go to or from government to the private sector, a profit based organisation to a not for profit, a large company to a small business.
New clients It might be the type of clients you work with that needs to change. That could mean a different demographic including age, gender and cultural background or new psychographics such as their personality, opinions, attitudes, interests and lifestyle. It might just be the balance of these factors that needs to alter so you spend more or less time with certain types of people.
New conditions You could focus on your working conditions and pivot to a job that involves a different location, different working hours, more or less travel, telecommuting, a different remuneration package or go from employee to contractor with the same employer.
New use for existing skills You might want to take your current skills and use them in a different way. For example, I’ve met someone who trained as a doctor then went back and did IT with the goal of working in medical technology to provide systems that helped doctors perform their roles.
New skills A major pivot would involve retraining for a completely different career that doesn’t have any relationship to what you have done in the past. This is often what people think of when you say “career change”. This usually involves returning to study and/or taking a major drop in pay and status. It might mean taking an existing interest and turning it into your career.
New mindset You may decide to stay where you are and keep doing the same work but develop a new mindset so that you’re better able to deal with the challenges of your role. That could be because you recognise you enjoy the work or because you aren’t prepared to risk the other options. You may just have become a bit stale and need to find a way to remind yourself why you enjoy this career.
From employee to self employed You actually enjoy the work you do but have identified you want more flexibility, disagree with the way your organisation currently operates or like the idea of being fully responsible for your own success. This implies you are doing the same type of work. Often it’s combined with one of the other pivots like showing others, helping others or representing others. A much bigger pivot would be to go into a completely different type of business. It’s often combined with doing a lifestyle change and having a sea change or tree change.
From self employed to employee You might love what you do but dislike some of the realities of working for yourself. Often this is to do with issues around generating business, cashflow or having a support system. Some people move between employee and self employed regularly but for others this is a big decision. I have a friend who ran their own business for 15 years before taking a special advisor role in government that uses the many contacts she’d developed in her business.
Return to a former career You may have done a career pivot that didn’t work out and want to go back to your former career. You might be going back because your personal circumstances have changed or the industry bounced back after a downturn. There are some careers that can only be done for short periods of time before you need a break. Some women take on different careers whilst raising their children and then return to their former career once their children are at school.
Portfolio career A less known pivot, this involves combining a number of roles to create your own unique career. For example, an actor may perform but also teach acting plus work in a not for profit simply because they enjoy it. You may do some of these roles as an employee and others as self employed. The key is that you choose to do this rather than feel you must simply to earn money. This is not a “fill in” while waiting for something better. It’s a carefully chosen collection of roles that suit your personal needs.
In the next section I’m going to give you some tips on determining which pivot is right for you but for now I just want you to start considering your options and narrow down the list. See if you can break them down using the categories of yes, no and maybe.
|From doing to leading||New conditions|
|From leading to doing||New use for existing skills|
|From doing to showing others||New skills|
|From doing to helping others||New mindset|
|From doing to representing others||From employee to self employed|
|New role in your current organisation||From self employed to employee|
|New industry||Return to a former career|
|New clients||Portfolio career|
Write your answers on the worksheet
In reviewing the list you may recognise that you’ve already done some of these pivots in your career. What did they learn from that experience that could help you this time?
Write your answers on the worksheet
How to determine what type of pivot is right for you
As you can see there are many options when it comes to doing a pivot. So how do you choose the ones that are right for you? Notice I’m suggesting you select more than one for now. That way you can do some analysis to establish the right one rather than choosing one now and feeling as though you need to do that or nothing. I also find that having a short list helps you to clarify which ones appeal to you the most. Give yourself a few options but not too many or you won’t be able to decide.
Avoid taking the path of least resistance, that’s probably how you ended up in a less than ideal career in the first place. Doing a pivot will mean you have to get out of your comfort zone, the question is by how much. Inertia is your enemy. If you’ve gotten this far you should at least consider a pivot to a new mindset on your list. Don’t be tempted to think it’s all too hard and just stay where you are, no matter how close you are to a life event that will distract you from your career dissatisfaction.
When deciding what pivot is right for you here are 10 factors to consider:
- How big an adjustment will this involve professionally?
- How big an adjustment will this require personally?
- What will prevent you from succeeding?
- How likely is this going to be a problem?
- What are the benefits financially, mentally and emotionally?
- How will you measure those benefits?
- How much can you direct the process?
- How much will you need to rely on others to succeed?
- Is this pivot easy or hard to do?
- How many people have successfully done it?
- Is there a recognised set of steps to follow?
- Are there multiple ways to succeed or only one way?
- What commitments do you have that will help or hinder your pivot?
- What restrictions do you have that will impact your pivot?
- What resources will you need to succeed?
- What resources do you have available to you?
- What are the potential dangers?
- How likely are they to happen?
- How long will it take to achieve success?
- Do you have to wait to get started?
Each of these factors can differ according to your industry, occupation and personal circumstances. Compare them to the answers you’ve given in the other sessions to make sure they match your core, put you in alignment and send you in the direction you want to go.
Write your answers on the worksheet
Here is another way to help you decide on your new career direction.
Step 1: Weigh up the consequences of taking action versus staying where you are. When doing this consider the potential upsides and downsides from a financial, mental and emotional point of view.
Step 2: Use these consequences to come up with a best case scenario and a worst case scenario.
Step 3: Finally, consider how likely it is that each of these scenarios will happen.
This 3 step process will help you to keep your decision in proportion and stop your mind from focusing on the wrong aspects causing you to inflate some aspects and ignore others.
Write your answers on the worksheet
Putting it all together
Now it’s time to start imaging your pivot. Choose your top 3 new direction options and start to explore them by:
- Writing a pros and cons list and seeing which side wins on paper and which one you argue for
- Thinking about the questions you have
- Recording the concerns you have
- Doing some research on what’s involved
- Listing the steps you would need to take
For now, don’t go out and talk to other people about your ideas. I’ll discuss the best way to do that in our next session.
In session 5 we’re going to look at Applying leverage to multiply your results. This will help you to make your pivot quicker, easier and more successful. You aren’t starting from scratch. You have a range of resources available to you but you need to figure out how to use them. So this session will look at:
- Why leverage is vital to your career pivot
- Simple ways to maximise the power of the skills you already have
- How to use your experiences to speed up your move to your dream career
- Making the most of your contacts to help you …. without making them feel used
Watch out for an email with a link to your materials that will arrive next week. I’m also going to send you an email mid week with a reminder to complete your activities and a quick tip.