On Forbes: The Emotional Life Cycle of a Major Career Transition

 

Eco concept

Jake worked for five years as a transactional attorney and then turned to real estate, managing his family’s portfolio of rental properties. From there, he launched a third career as an artist, painting large-scale murals for corporate offices and collectors.

As an executive coach, I have a front row seat to major professional transitions of brave souls such as Jake. Clients often ask for a roadmap to make such a change of their own, whether they yearn for more meaning at work or have other motivations. While I can ask the right questions to uncover their passions and talents and how these intersect with the marketplace, paths taken vary widely and can be entirely unexpected.

Please click on the image of the caterpillar below for the link to the rest of this article, originally published on Forbes.com.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar On Milkweed

Anne Marie Segal is a career and leadership development coach, author, resume strategist and member of Forbes Coaches Council. She is founder of Segal Coaching, author of Master the Interview: A Guide for Working Professionals (available on Amazon.com) and a frequent public speaker in New York, Connecticut and beyond.

Image credit: Adobe Images.

Melanie Glover on Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone (Guest Post)

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Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone (Adobe Images)

I welcome my first guest blogger, Melanie Glover, a personal friend on the career path journey. Melanie is a young attorney and certified personal trainer who writes about professional development, health, nutrition and exercise at Balanza and Beyond.

Melanie Glover
Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

Every time I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone, it has hurt.  But I have not once regretted it. 

It was the beginning of my legal career, and I had to cover a hearing for my supervisor.  The hearing was supposed to be simple and straightforward.  It was not supposed to take long.  However, everything turned out how I least expected. 

The hearing that was supposed to last five minutes lasted five hours as I waited for other attorneys to take their turns with their clients before the Judge.  I came back a second and then a third time; I went back and forth with the Judge on the record; and I interacted with my client.  I was not prepared for that marathon day in Court when what I had been expecting was a five-minute hearing.  At the end of the day, I just wanted to hide:  despite my all-afternoon efforts, we would have to appeal.

I confess:  I felt like I had let my client and myself down. 

The hearing was supposed to last five minutes.
It lasted five hours.

Then, after several months, I took a step back and reflected.  I learned practical things, such as (1) always to take my Statute with me to Court, and (2) to always be prepared for a hearing to last all day. 

But I also learned a deeper lesson to apply to life in general both in my professional and personal lives.  I learned that undesirable situations might just bring a person to the edge of discomfort only to come out on the other side with a fresh perspective, a new relationship, or some other productive and creative energy or opportunity.

That day I felt less than my best self in front of my colleagues, the Judge, and my client.  But after further examining the experience, I realize that I also made a valuable friendship with another attorney who went through the same experience by my side.  And out of that friendship, I have been able to commiserate, receive advice, and even give advice.  In summary, I have learned that even what seem to be the most challenging situations at the time can still produce hope; you just have to look – and practice looking – for it.

When we reflect, we learn.  And when we fall, we do not have to stay defeated.  We can stand back up, and we can learn from the tumble.  Coming to a positive conclusion after enduring hard circumstances is not comfortable.  In fact, it can be a bit reckless; but it is unexpectedly worthwhile. 

When we fall, we do not have to stay defeated.
Search for that unexpected gift.

My overarching advice for young professionals is to search for that unexpected gift – a lesson, relationship, or new skill – in difficult circumstances.  Searching deep and wide for the good within the bad is definitely a practice that I have had to acquire intentionally.  But those trying situations have allowed me to practice seeking the underlying positive message despite the adversity. 

Guest post insert and image © 2016 Melanie Glover. All rights reserved. Originally published at Balanza and Beyond on July 22, 2016. 

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Melanie Glover is a young lawyer and certified personal trainer who blogs about creating a healthy, balanced lifestyle through tips on fitness, nutrition, and self care.  Her blog is a personal endeavor to help others become the best versions of their personal and professional selves and can be found at Balanza and Beyond. Melanie’s book on an American’s view into a Spanish kitchen, Fusión Cultural, is available on Amazon. 

Successful Career Transition Stage 2: Vet Your Options

shutterstock_229967803 (three doors of decisionmaking)

Kristina has always secretly dreamed of owning a vineyard in France.

She has other dreams, too. But this one just won’t go away.

How can Kristina, from her windowless desk at a bank in New York City, figure out how to bring more of her dream life into her actual life?

Exploration is the first stage of a successful career transition, as I covered in my prior post. Stage 2 is a decision-making process that involves vetting the ideas that have been uncovered through brainstorming, research, informational interviews, networking and other means of discovery. We vet against a set of factors that we have enumerated, such as our values, talents, interests, skills, financial needs and the market.

These two first stages (exploration and vetting) work in tandem but are distinct. In fact, we do them naturally every day, but not always intentionally.  More importantly, too often we rush to judgment about our ideas without fully opening ourselves to the brainstorming process, missing valuable information about ourselves and our true career goals as we try to vet while still exploring ideas. Often this rush is triggered by our own anxiety about transition, while at times it is the expediency of the situation.

In the best case scenario, we will explore and vet in a cycle, which will look a lot like the following image. We explore ideas, we vet them, and then we explore again. In other words, each time we make an interim decision about career transition that has not led us to a final conclusion, we go back to the proverbial drawing board with an open mind, returning to further vetting until we make a final decision (about one or more options to pursue in our career transition).

Here is what this might look like.

Exploration - Vetting

As we covered in the prior post, there are three aspects of the brainstorming phase:

Creative Mindset – Facts – Exploration

Kristina can generate ideas about her vineyard dream, conduct actual research into what it takes to own a vineyard and explore her questions with people who are already in her dream space.

As a coach, one of the points I would try to tease out from Kristina is what exactly appeals to her about this dream. Some of the appeal may be one or more of the following:

  • Living on the land; more in-tune with the seasons
  • Being involved with the wine community
  • Making money while drinking wine! 🙂
  • Doing something completely different than her current job – i.e., curing burnout
  • Feeling relaxed, the way she feels on vacation
  • Owning her own business; being her own boss
  • Living in France; speaking French
  • Feeling as though she has made an impact on the world
  • Leading a team of people committed to a quality product

For your own dream job, I would encourage you to do the same brainstorming about what exactly is appealing about that dream. Think through what is missing in your life that this dream job would offer. Imagine what you would be doing every day and how that would support your values and vision of yourself.

Notice that we haven’t yet vetted anything. We don’t know if Kristina has the money it takes to buy a vineyard (or could get financing), the talents to do it, the stomach for the risks or the true interest in doing the day-to-day work of running a vineyard. We also don’t know if she would be any good at it – would she be able to sell any wine? There are a hundred questions she would need to answer before actually moving forward, and each of those questions (and their answers) may open more ideas to explore as well as offer good feedback to Kristina about how a successful career transition would look.

The reason for separating exploration and vetting is that we often try to make decisions with too little information. Kristina will not know why this particular dream keeps coming up if she does not explore it, without the shoulds getting in the way. (You know the shoulds, I am sure. She should be practical. She should stop wasting time with something that will never happen…. And the rest of their should cousins.)

As part of her exploration, Kristina can explore vineyards from Long Island to Provence and beyond. She can talk to people in the business. She can sign up for Alliance Francaise, if her French is a little rusty. If she feels ambitious and tentatively committed to see if this could go anywhere  – or just for fun, to give it a whirl – she can create a business plan for the vineyard. In other words, Kristina can bring her dream world a bit more into her real world and recall the sensation of being carried away by an idea. 

In summary, the openness and creativity resulting from Kristina’s indulgence of her dream job idea may at some point lead to the actual result of opening her own vineyard – if it passes the vetting process – or it may throw off side ideas that are a better fit.

If you are ready to move to Stage 2, here are the main points to vet:

Values – Talents – Interests – Skills – Needs – The Market

Like Kristina, once you have some ideas on the table and have done your initial exploration with an open mind (whether these ideas represent dream jobs or simply “a bit better than what I have now” jobs), you are ready to subject these ideas to the vetting process. As an overview, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Your Values: Will the targeted role be meaningful to you? Will it meet your top values or will there by any values that need to be compromised (or left unmet) in this role?
  • Your Talents: Does it play to your strengths, and will it best utilize your greatest talents?

To insert an example here, in Kristina’s case, does she understand the how to market wine (or could she learn it) and would she enjoy doing that? What about how to run a farm? Run a business? Manage people? Manage cash flow?

What other talents will she need, and which of these play to her strengths?

  • Your Interests: Will the role be challenging and interesting on a daily basis? Are the problems that arise ones that you enjoy solving?
  • Your Skills: Do you have what is needed for the targeted role and if not, how can you acquire those skills? What commitment is needed to close the gap?
  • Your Needs: Will the role serve your financial needs? Will it meet other needs, such as the need for autonomy, the need to feel part of a team or the need to be recognized for good work?
  • Your Temperament: Will the minor annoyances in this job one day become major ones? Are you well suited to the day-to-day aspects of the role?
  • The Market: Does the marketplace need what you would like to do? How many of this type of role is available at the level that will meet your financial needs? Note: If it is a new idea or a niche market, you may need to conduct market research to know the answer to this point – don’t assume that just because you build it (and love it yourself), they will come.

Through thoughtful exploration and careful vetting – which is not all work, it can be fun too! – you will find new ways to frame and “reframe” your ideas and decisions about career transition. Whether you are looking to make a major change like the one above or if you simply want to tweak your current role, putting structure and organization around the process helps you make better decisions. You also may, as part of the process, find a “bridge job” that will help you incorporate into your life some aspects that are missing, as you continue to explore and vet your longer vision for your career.

For example, say that Kristina decides that she does want to go for it and open a vineyard in France – not an immutable decision, but a concrete goal – and that she has or can find the means to do so. She may first move from her bank job in New York to a similar role in Paris – admittedly also a move that takes effort – as a way to get geographically closer to her goal, meet more people who can make it a reality and satisfy a number of points on her dream list that appeal to her. Alternatively, she may seek a role at a vineyard (or a service provider to vineyards) in some capacity that is closer to her current role and uses her current skills, learning the business as she goes.

Remember: neither is not a compromise, either is a bridge. As she takes smaller risks and gets closer to the life she desires, Kristina will increase her resilience, self-awareness and capacity for change. 

Hungry (or thirsty) for change? What will your next move be? 

Anne Marie Segal is a career coach and résumé writer for attorneys, executives and entrepreneurs. She helps clients with career exploration and other stages of the job search process. For more information, please visit her website at www.segalcoaching.com.

 

© 2016 Anne Marie Segal. All rights reserved.

First image above: Shutterstock.

Should You Really Start Something New in the New Year?

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We are accustomed to think of the New Year as a time to start something new.

New Year, new thing. It makes sense.

Well, what if you took a step back and looked at the change of year not as a chance to do new things, but to bridge the old and the new? What if, instead of starting something new or resolving to make a change, you threw yourself into something you already do well, but did it better in the New Year?

So here’s a short visualization exercise, since this only works if you are dealing with what’s truly personal to you. If you wish, write down five things you already do that are working. This can be for your business, career, personal life, health, etc.

Write down five important things. (It’s better to actually write than just think. Seeing words on the page makes them real.)

Five Things I’m Already Doing Well

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Now, write down why these five things are working. What results are you getting from these actions? Are these results that you want to continue to see in the New Year?

Why These Five Things Are Working

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Finally, which one(s) are most important to continue doing, so important that you should not only keep doing them, but also invest more time and dedication to them, to do them even better and get stronger, more lasting results?

Things to Ramp Up in the New Year (and How to Do It)

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When we are young, it makes sense to continue to try something new every day, season or year. As adults, sometimes that is the right answer, if it breaks us out of bad habits. But many times, the more fruitful course is to build on what we already know or a change that we have already set into motion.

When we do something new, we expand our horizons. When we recommit, we invest in our strengths. Which one makes sense for you in the new year?