Let’s face it: Career pivot — whether it’s due to discovering your dream job, outgrowing your current job or finding a new role as the result of being let go — is a challenging process. It adds another layer of pressure to your already hectic life. It also often requires a significant amount of time and mental resources.
But knowing and following the process doesn’t guarantee optimal results. As the founder of a career coaching company, I have seen that without a strong foundation, many people find the transition difficult, if not impossible. Some even end up in the wrong job altogether. For those who are lucky enough to achieve their dream job, by that time, they could be too exhausted to embark on a new adventure.
In order to succeed at a pivot in your career, consider the following fundamentals as the foundation:
Create your vision.
With multiple daily demands and distractions, it’s easy to give up, compromise and settle for a different path along the way.
This is why I believe it’s important to have an inspiring vision of where you want to be in a year’s time. Consider the reasons you’re seeking the change; this will serve as an anchor that helps you to keep going. For example, your vision might be that you want to get out of bed and be excited about work every day; it might prioritize a lifestyle and work environment that align with your core values, or it could be that you want to inspire your children to live as the best possible version of themselves. Make sure you are specific, and hold on to your vision.
Uplevel your happiness.
In his book The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor makes a point that when we are happy, we will be successful — not the other way around. I believe this also holds true to a career pivot.
In my experience, because of fears of the unknown, confusion about your options, doubts of your own ability and the frustration of a long process, it makes sense why some people are unhappy as they shift careers. But, there are many ways to increase your happiness during the experience.
1. Identify the two key areas in your life to focus on in the next six months to one year, apart from your career. Then, create actionable and inspiring goals with a list of non-negotiables for each. This helps you stay focused during the career pivot instead of being overwhelmed.
The areas you decide to focus on can vary. For example, many mothers I have coached choose to keep their health in check, and most of the time, sleep, nutrition and exercise are their must-haves to fuel their journey and dreams.
2. Create powerful happiness habits. I believe one of the easiest and most effective habits is to try a “three good things” exercise. It takes roughly five minutes. At a recurring time each day, name and feel the three things you are grateful for in that moment.
Another potential habit is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness doesn’t have only include sitting still and meditating — it’s living in the moment with your direct senses, which means it could be practiced when you do just about anything. For example, savor the taste, warmth and smell of the bread you eat instead of thinking about what to cook for tomorrow. Feel the flowers blossoming and birds chirping on the way to work instead of worrying about your to-do list.
3. Have happiness boosters ready. Whenever you feel down, surround yourself with the things that lift your mood immediately. For example, you can write down your favorite mantra and keep it visible on your desk, create an album of your favorite music on your phone or computer or have your favorite books nearby.
Unleash your creativity.
Many of us likely have passions outside of work, but not everyone has time for them. Some might even wonder if they could turn their hobbies into careers. I believe a career shift is the best time to test this. If you like painting, paint. If you’ve dreamed about writing a book, write. If you love playing music, play.
In my opinion, even if you find out it’s only a hobby and not a passion, embracing your creativity will still help you flex your mental muscles and open your mind. Being flexible detaches you from the career stereotypes built over the years and brings you closer to the options you find fulfilling (and otherwise might have gone unnoticed).
Cultivate your solitude.
I believe we rush through life without listening to our inner voice. During a career pivot, skipping your instincts could be costly because these feelings can represent our deeper calling.
Consider taking some time off to be away from your normal life, which is likely cluttered with constant demands, and explore the world around you. In my experience, this will help open the world inside you. It could simply be a few hours strolling through your neighborhood with your phone turned off and immersing yourself in the scene. I believe this helps to dilute the busy thoughts that have been crowding your head.
With planning, focus and discipline, the above ingredients can help assist you during your career pivot and make it a pleasant journey. When needed, find support from your family, friends or a coach. You could find yourself transformed as a whole person through the process and ready for any other pivots, small or big, in this fast-changing world.