Yea, that’s right. I’m talking to you. You’ve been talking about a career change for awhile, and while you think you’re doing all the right things, nothing happens. You’re really truly in it to win it- you apply to job after job, you’re out there networking and it’s starting to be a real drag, amirite?
I see this all the time, so if this is speaking to you right now, you are not alone. Because it’s important to me that people committed to change actually have it happen, I started compiling notes of anecdotal evidence on this and I’ve noticed a few scenarios where despite our best intentions, we can unwittingly undermine our progress. I want to share a couple, along with some tips on how to avoid it here.
- Mutlitasking: It’s well documented that our decision making power and effectiveness wanes as the day goes on. Add multi-tasking into the mix and you’re pretty much waging a losing battle. I know job descriptions galore talk about the need to multitask, but I’d like to propose the notion of monotasking, just focusing on one thing at a time. During your workday, you’ll be more effective and less tired, giving you more energy for an evening job search session. (Or better yet, try to get an hour of job search tasks in before you head to work!) For some help on how to do this, I always refer clients to Better Than Before, a book by Gretchen Rubin on cultivating habits that work for your personality type.
- Being Too Available/No Boundaries: Last week, a client mentioned that she had had a horrible week at work and had gotten little of the career change homework done. When we dove into her week, we could really see her role in it. For example, she made the decision to work the rest of the day at home to get things done, but once there, opened up her email and her work instant messenger. Instantly, messages came across all platforms and before she knew it, she was knee jerk reacting to everything at once (see: multitasking too). At the end of it, she was exhausted, irritated and unable to do much of anything besides order takeout and veg in front of the TV. It’s critical to create some boundaries for this and you can start by influencing the behavior in a way that suits you. When those IMs came in, for example, who said she had to answer them instantly? We’ve somehow created a culture for immediate response and it’s detrimental to company output (but I digress) and worker sanity. If you don’t answer instantly (or better yet, turn off your devices for time to get actual work done), then they won’t answer instantly back. You’re influencing the behavior you want. And if your current company is especially rigid on this, it may be time for a frank conversation that frames it in terms of benefits for the company. For some help on how to do this, I always refer clients to the book Essentialism, by Greg McKeown.
- Not Developing the Mindfulness Muscle: All of the above planning and strategizing would be for naught if you never pay attention to how you play a role in all of this and how you feel in those dizzying moments at your current job. If you’re just going through the motions, it’s hard to get habits and boundaries and monotasking, etc to stick. At the beginning and end of each work day, I suggest asking yourself how you feel, what you want to accomplish today and why that’s important (or what you accomplished) and what you’d do differently tomorrow. You can of course create your own questions that work for you, but the idea is to keep it simple so you can stick with it until….drumroll please….it becomes habit.
So, these are some ways I’ve seen people unwittingly sabotage themselves in the career change process. For some more riffing on this from another angle, how to stay focused at work when you mind is on your career change, join my online class here.