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2020. You came in like a lion but are definitely not leaving like a lamb. Now, 2021 is facing us down with our COVID crisis surging and an uncertain future. Although there are some hopeful signs for more positive outcomes this year, massive job losses and an unsettling start of 2021 has left many people adrift and wondering how to make a change. If a new career is a part of your plans for this year, let’s see how you can make that a reality.
As 2021 begins to unfold you may find yourself thinking (or having to think) about a new career. What does it take to set and meet a New Year’s resolution of finding a new career? In many aspects, it’s not so different from making other significant life changes based on a resolution.
New year’s resolutions are popular, even when they tend to fizzle after a couple of months (or weeks), because our brains like new beginnings. When the calendar page flips to a new year, we see the possibilities and get a clean slate to try again.
How do you keep yourself from fizzling out? Let’s take a few tips from motivation research.
Research shows whether you’re trying to shed a few pounds or stick to a new budget, making a statement publicly is important. For new careers, the positive effect of sharing your resolution is two-fold. Not only are you more likely to stick to it if you’ve made a public declaration but since networking is the most effective way to get a job, spreading the word leads to new opportunities.
Taking on the challenge of searching out a new career is no different. Think of online communities such as Facebook Groups and LinkedIn of examples on where and how to reach out. Whether you are celebrating good news about a job interview that went well, looking for tips on your resume or brainstorming for new jobs to consider having a community to turn to, and feed off, can be key to unlocking your potential and lead to eventual success.
A Facebook group like My Career Design Studio that is moderated by career development professionals and with members from all walks of life can be a great way to get support and get networking.
In every crisis, there is opportunity and COVID gives us the opportunity to reflect on our hopes and dreams. However, when making a career change in response to a crisis, don’t simply respond to the current circumstances. Instead, see this time as an opportunity to find a better career fit than the job you’re currently in or recently lost.
Make sure you think through both your passions and the market so you can make a choice that you love despite the obstacles and that meets your needs to pay the bills while living a fulfilling life.
Ronda Ansted, a career strategist, at Be the Change Careers Consulting states “that as many as 70% of people worldwide are in jobs where they are burned out, disengaged, bored and not using their talents and skills up to their full potential.” Think of all the human potential that is wasted by this reality. This is your opportunity to change that!
Starting any new endeavor is an exercise in overcoming a certain amount of futility and staying motivated to stay on course. Make sure to keep your goals are exciting and realistic at the same time.
Research by Gabriele Oettingen suggests that achieving goals is a four-part process. Start by setting your goal. Next, vividly imagine what your future will look like if you accomplish your goal and all the ways your life will be better. Make this a lived, immersive experience.
After that, identify the ways that you might get in your own way. When and how are you likely to run out of steam?
Finally, make a plan to overcome those specific obstacles.
Key to mastering these challenges is breaking down an overwhelming goal or lifestyle change into bite-sized manageable steps. Even setting aside 15 minutes a day can add up when it comes to taking on a new challenge.
Be strategic in your approach. Research and learn from the experts the best practices toward achieving your desired outcome. Setting smaller goals and taking continuing small discreet steps will make your progress more effective than trying a drastic time-consuming overhaul of your objective. Be intentional with your time. Schedule your new activities and keep those commitments.
Short term goals are easier to keep and reaching them will help to keep you motivated. Putting in a system to track your wins will benefit your efforts in creating and keeping new behavioral patterns that will lead to your success.
Obstacles, detours, and slip-ups are a fact of life. However, when we pounce on ourselves for not living up to our expectations, we can inadvertently make things worse. Instead, practice compassion and take a moment to learn from what happens. Again, turn your obstacles into opportunities for growth.
Take stock and time to celebrate your cumulative goals as well. If you had a week where met your daily objectives get excited and plan a reward for yourself. Maybe it’s something as simple as a relaxing hot bath, getting a manicure or making time to call a friend. Keep it interesting and relevant to your life.
Do this on a regular basis (find what works for you). Did you spend fifteen minutes today on an online community discussing or reading about new ways to tackle your job search? Celebrate your achievement! Even a small celebration can help bring about big change.
Positive psychology and the latest neuroscience research indicate that if you even take a moment to raise your hands up and shout hooray (or some variation thereof) that can be a big boost to keep you motivated and taking credit for your effort at the same time.
Making a career transition is not as straightforward as going to the gym every day. You may have to adjust your strategy or re-think your goals as you (and the whole world) adapt to a life that is rapidly changing.
So if you find yourself running out of steam, do what you need to keep moving forward. Take a break. Practice self-compassion. Shake it off! And start again.
You may need some additional support. Find a way to give that to yourself. Ask for help or partner with an accountability buddy.