A regular question that pops up in early career coaching sessions is, “Exactly how long will it take to change my career?”. Clients want to know how many weeks or months it’ll take to get unstuck and make the change they desperately want.
The reason for this question is obvious. You’ve finally hit peak frustration with your situation and you’re ready to take action… then a career coach tells you, while what you want is absolutely achievable, it’s going to take some time (and commitment and effort!). I mean, talk about bubble and burst.
“How long will it take to change my career?” is the million-dollar question!
Let me ask you this… the last time you undertook a significant personal project, say purchasing your home or training for a marathon, how long did it take? I’m certain, if you’re like me, going into the process you wanted it to happen as quickly as possible… but, is that how things actually played out?
And, as you got started on the process, were you even aware how long it might take? You probably had a target date in mind… but did it all go according to plan?
If things did go to plan, it’s likely because the aspects within your control happened exactly when they needed to and you experienced absolutely no interruptions from external elements outside of your sphere of influence (hello global pandemics, economic recessions, sick family members, work emergencies etc).
The truth is, preparing yourself for a career change requires you to think about things differently. And, you need to accept the process is not going to be perfect. Most importantly you need to get started… because the longer you take to get going, the longer it’s going to take.
How to relax and allow yourself the time you need to change careers
1. COMMIT TO WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
How long it will take to change your career depends on your willingness to do what’s required, especially when it’s hard and results are not immediate. There are some activities you can commence and continue even during times of uncertainty. Undertaking reflective work, generating ideas, making connections and carrying out research are all activities you can take ownership of that will contribute to the clarity you need to make confident career decisions.
2. RELEASE THE NEED FOR PERFECTION
The need to understand how long it’s going to take before you get started, is driven by wanting to be assured you’ll definitely end up in your dream career or you’ll successfully make a career change. It’s a curious human trait that we tend to wait for perfection before we feel motivated. But motivation is driven by action, not the other way around. And results are achieved through action and practice… in other words they’re at the end of the process, not the beginning.
3. TRUST THE PROCESS
Action steps yield results. The more results you get, the more you learn. And the key to making progress is in the evaluation of each action and result. What worked well, what didn’t? Remember rejection, disappointment, and things not going as planned, are all part of the process. They’re not signs the process isn’t working. Taking things slow and steady works every time… no-one wants to deal with someone in a rush, or acting desperate or needy.
4. IDENTIFY AND MITIGATE YOUR OBSTACLES
The obstacle in the way of getting started on the career change you know you want is usually whatever is worrying you most about what you’re trying to do. It’s easy to dismiss the things that scare you by turning them into “legitimate” excuses. You’d rather feel safe than proactively step into situations that create feelings of discomfort, right? It’s important to name your fears… once you know what’s in your way, you can start to “turn the volume down” so they don’t bother you so much.
5. SUSTAINABLE CHANGE DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT
When you’re stuck or feel trapped beware of making spur-of-the-moment decisions. It can be tempting to accept a second-rate option because you think you need to be doing something or you’re worried nothing better will come along. But ultimately these types of decisions lead to the same dead end. Radical change might not be possible all at once… so, consider the smaller steps you can make. Take the time to imagine, research, test and evolve. And, most of all, trust that if you’re doing the work, the change you want will happen at the right time for you.
The time it’ll take you to change careers will be different to my experience and that of every one of my clients, because your situation is different. If you need support to guide you through the career change you want to make? I’d love to help you work it out.