A Guide for Meaningful Career Change
Crafting and navigating your career path is uniquely your own. As career and personal lives become more intertwined, it’s up to you to determine your own definition of success for each season of your life.
Owning your career takes work and commitment but can be incredibly rewarding. Transformation can often occur within your existing organization with ownership and support.
Here is a guide to defining your path, whether it is simply shifting gears or starting over entirely.
1. Get to know yourself.
How often do we take time as adults to really understand how we’ve evolved through the years, what we really want out of life and what has us stuck or stalled? Are you on the hamster wheel of someone else’s life?
You can thrive if you know what makes you tick. Commit to understanding these elements and build your career around them.
2. Reflect and assess.
Take what you’ve learned and design your ideal life. What do you need both professionally and personally to be fulfilled? Does your current career path or organization align? If not, could it align with tweaks or are you embarking on a new adventure?
3. Obtain Feedback.
Gain others’ perspectives of your strengths, development needs and blind spots to help you move forward as your best self. Ask for perspectives from leaders, stakeholders, peers and customers via a method that works for you. Options include scheduling a 1:1 conversation, using a multi-rater feedback tool (360 survey), or enlisting your coach to interview them.
If you feel uneasy approaching your organization, fear not. Showing ownership of your development within the organization is a strength. If you encounter push back, that’s helpful information about your company.
4. Stay flexible and open to possibilities.
Careers are not a one size fits all. What looks like a lateral move could provide development for exponential growth. A path you wouldn’t have considered before may meet your new definition of success. Be open to detours caused by unexpected opportunities. The possibilities may be greater than your mental model.
5. Network for learning.
Take a learning and development approach - it gives you meeting topics and allows for one-on-one conversation. Identify people working in interesting organizations or roles or with seemingly similar values from whom you want to learn. This is not an attempt to get hired. Others typically enjoy helping if you authentically want to learn.
Here are a few question ideas for your discussions:
6. Create an Action Plan.
Use what you’ve learned about yourself and possible paths to determine your action and development plan. Set intentional goals by asking the right questions of yourself such as:
7. Inform your network.
Follow up with those you met, your existing network and your manager to share your plans and request support. Enlist partners to lookout for a good match and to keep you accountable.
8. Take the next best step. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Just move to the next incremental step in your plan for progress. This is your unique path – an interim role or a step in a seemingly opposite direction can both be progress in service of larger goals.
This journey is more successful with support from a mentor or coach. Change is challenging but living through your values and strengths is worth it.
Rochelle Ramos is the owner of The Development Source, LLC. She is an executive and leadership coach helping individuals reach their full potential and thrive.