I was recently chatting with one of my clients via email, and she wrote to me:
I am so completely overwhelmed. I know my job isn’t right and that I need to make a change, but every time I start to job search on the internet, I get so overwhelmed by everything. I hate starting over. Do I make a new resume? Do I network? How do I network when I have no idea what job I even want next? All my energy is used up. I’m tired of feeling trapped, but I have no clue what to do next. How do you get started when you’d rather climb back into bed?
I LOVE this question. I love it so much that I’m going to christen this the first in a mini-blog series on how to move through the fear and overwhelm of starting over. One of the biggest repeating themes I hear from my clients is some version of:
“Something has to change. I have no clue what that something is. I’m overwhelmed. Guess it’s simpler to stay stuck.”
First of all, let me say that yes, career transitions can be overwhelming. Whether it’s one job to another job, one business niche to the next, or completely pulling a 180 on your entire career, there are A LOT of moving pieces to keep up with. Resumes, cover letters, networking, interviews, applications, business plans, pitches, figuring out your life’s passion and crafting a clever transition narrative that you actually feel confident about….that’s a lot. Especially if you’re currently working. No wonder you are overwhelmed right now. Anyone who feels trapped by their current situation AND can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel is going to feel freaked out, so I think it makes sense that you want to shut down and crawl back in bed rather than dealing. I hear ya. I think the first big step here is deciding that you truly want to make a change. Some people feel like they MUST make a change because their current reality is so painful, and some people feel like they WANT to make a change because they know deep down, there is some truth that their current life is not aligned with. Regardless,
HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO GET STARTED WHEN GETTING STARTED FEELS LIKE AN IMPOSSIBLE, DAUNTING TASK:
#1: Reconnect to your motivation
If you don’t have a really excellent reason to make a change, you won’t follow through. Human beings need motivation to make change happen. It’s how we’re wired. Some motivation, like passion, feels good and propels you forward toward your dreams. Some motivation, like fear, feels awful, and has a tendency to work for a minute and then shut you down. One of the most powerful things you can do to get unstuck is reconnect to your why. Why is making a change SO intensely important right now? Journal or talk it out.
#2: Make a list
Every time I think about my “in 20 years” goals, I freak out. I have A LOT of work to do. When I am feeling completely stressed out by the sheer number of tasks to accomplish, I get out my journal and just make a giant list. Get a sheet of paper and write down every single thing you need to do make your career change goal happen. Now cross off the stuff that isn’t actually necessary (like spending 3 hours browsing Etsy for the prettiest resume template). If your worries are on paper, they’re not taking up as much space in your head.
#3: Pick one thing
Commit to getting that one thing done. Multi-tasking is the devil. It just is. If you’re trying to do 17 different job applications while cooking dinner, finishing a client project, putting Frozen in the DVD player for your kid, and remembering to switch out the laundry, you will end up more stressed out than if you didn’t do the applications at all. Look at your list and pick one single, solitary thing that has a high impact (like Googling companies you’re interested in). Give yourself a deadline and commit one or two hours a week to doing just that one thing, without interruption. Repeat.
#4: Get support and accountability
You know how going to the gym is easier with a friend? Job searching, business building, and career exploration work the same exact way. Tell your friend or partner or coach about your goals. Tell them about your “one thing” you plan to get done. Ask them to hold you accountable and be your cheerleader. Ask them to help if you want help. Ask them to patiently listen to you rant if you need to rant. Don't do it all alone.
#5: Get Real
Cut yourself some slack here: Beating yourself up about not being “further along” or not “having it all figured out” is not going to motivate you to reach or define your goals. It’s just not. If you’re making a big change, it’s completely normal not to figure everything out over night. I have never had a client get perfect career clarity from one Google search. Eat the elephant one bite at a time and choose to be proud of what you HAVE accomplished, not what’s left. You've got this.
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Next week in the Starting Over Series, I'll give you some tips on exorcising the demon of your last crappy job so it doesn't come around to haunt your NEW job search.
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