Job Switching 101: Mustering Courage is a Must

Job switching doesn’t demand the kind of courage to skydive out of an airplane from 13,000 feet in the air on a plane smaller than a closet. Nope, no death defying acts necessary here. Job switching simply requires the kind of courage to live your life authentically.

Contrary to popular belief about the unemployment rate, there is no reason to stay trapped in a job not aligned with our talents, ambition and passion. There are many opportunities out there. New products, services and technologies are continually unfolding. Still better news; the internet makes it easier to research careers, locate jobs anywhere in the world and even work from home.

Gone are the days when the strategy was to land a job out of high school, work 30 years and retire with the same company. Among the most repeated claims is that the average U.S. worker will have many careers in a lifetime with seven being the magic number. This is the “new” normal. I should know. Eight job switches in ten years after college graduation gives me a unique perspective into the gnawing self doubts facing us as we struggle to find our place in the world and discover a career calling that is aligned with our soul.

Live your life with passion and purpose.

One of my bolder moves was leaving a lucrative finance management position to teach computer science at an inner city charter school with a whopping $30,000 pay cut. I was on a fast track to become the controller of an international printing company but something was missing for quite some time. I needed to figure it out fast because little bits of my heart and soul were dying every single work day.

I’m not recommending waking up one morning and handing in your resignation letter, at least not without having deep conversations with yourself, your biggest supporters and making a plan first. If you are seriously considering doing so, there is a process and it begins with mustering courage.

Here are three courageous steps to successful job switching or making ANY significant change in your life for that matter:

Courage to stand in your truth. Be honest with yourself. Have the courage to ask tough questions so you can make a decision. Are you ready for change? If changing something in your life requires you to create chaos for a while, recognize that’s the price that must be paid. Don’t kid yourself, chaos will surely follow. Instead ask whether you’re ready to handle it? Do you believe you are smart, brave and strong enough? Do you deserve a rewarding career? Only you can answer these questions for you. Take the time to listen to self talk and follow your intuition.
I took an entire day to sit in silence asking myself questions, feeling my emotions from the answers, visualizing what my life would be like in the new position and how my life would change. Afterwards, I determined it was time to leave comfort and security behind and take the risk.

Courage to move through the fear. Recognize what’s driving your fears. Potential failure, worrying about what others may think or relocating to somewhere new could be paralyzing you from making a decision. Write down each fear and create a counter strategy.
For example, if relocating your life is keeping you awake at night come up with actions to reduce or eliminate it completely. Strategies would include researching the area on-line through the local Visitor’s Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Request a relocation package which is full of information. Also, look to join organizations that resonate with you. You’ll have an instant network of like-minded people who will welcome you and provide opportunities for new friendships.
Personally, my biggest fear was surrounding money. Could I afford to take a 50% pay cut? How would my lifestyle change? What sacrifices would be necessary to make the career switch? Once I sat down with my household bills and determined I could still meet my living expenses and continue to save for retirement, I was okay. Eliminating a new car any time soon was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the chance of a lifetime.

Courage to escape. You’ve done the soul searching and determined it’s time to escape. Having a concrete action plan will take your confidence to a new level and give you the courage you need to make a change.
Creating an escape plan is not as difficult as you think. Grab a calendar and estimate four dates: when you will start your job search, when you will accept your new position, when you will resign from your current position and when you will start your new career. Make a plan and stick to it like a road map. You will eventually get to your destination.

I had a major project going on implementing software so my job search “begin” date immediately followed the “go live” software date, March. I estimated when I would accept a teaching position for the upcoming school year, May. I planned when I would submit my three week notice, June. I actually wrote the resignation letter in March even before I started looking. How’s that for vision? I executed the plan with precision and was able to take the summer off before starting to teach in the fall. Hallelujah!

My teaching gig only lasted a year. While I experienced incredible moments, I also realized that teaching eight year-olds was not my strong suit. Was my career switch worth the risk? Absolutely. I don’t have to wonder the rest of my life if teaching children is my true calling. It’s not. I have moved on to a better dream of establishing my own coaching business where I am leveraging an enormous vault of past experiences, including t-e-a-c-h-i-n-g.

Go ahead and give yourself permission to job switch and if it doesn’t work out? Do what any strong and savvy woman would do, figure out your next best career girlfriend!

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