A philosophy in counseling states that until a person’s pain becomes great enough, only then will a change occur. Pain does make us stop walking when our knee hurts too much. A pain in our back makes us lay down and rest. Being in a job where we are miserable makes us search for a new beginning. But are you really ready for what comes next?
In the spirit of honesty, I’ve been there. I’ve loved 90% of my careers but I’ve had the one where I literally did not want to get out of bed. The thought of spending 9 hours in an environment that was not a good fit pushed me to make a change but only after the pain grew to where I couldn’t bear it. Let’s just say, my hubby was very supportive, and it led me to be happier than I had ever been in my life. But it was hard. It made me insecure and made me doubt my abilities. It made me question if I would ever be happy in my job.
The gift of owning Reeder Consulting is seeing my client base become almost 50% adults, as opposed to only working with young adults. It’s almost like I have two different practices because the conversation and interactions are completely different. My young adults drink up every drop of knowledge, learning who they are and what would fulfill them. Their stresses are different.
My adults are frustrated and craving a change. Any change. They need the change. But change is scary. I often wish I had a magic wand and could wave it with the power to immediately give answers to “what do I do next?” But for adults, the stakes are often higher. Whether it’s a divorce, a loss of a job, an illness that makes you need to change, a growing family to support or the desire to find that darn passion “everyone” talks about. The real question is “Are You REALLY Ready” to do the work?
What is the “work?”
1. It’s deciding to engage in the investment of career exploration.
It’s a huge step to pick up the phone and call to learn more. I get it! I truly do. You aren’t sure if you even want to engage. You must begin to tell your story. You are trying to decide if the person on the other end of the phone “feels right” to you. Huge decisions. But once you finish your research, the first step is to learn what you will gain from engaging in the experience. What are your goals? If it’s to learn more about yourself because you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, for whatever reason, that is a great decision. Are you wanting to go back to school because you feel you’ve lost your edge? Are you bored? Whatever the reason, it’s a financial commitment so although I fully support self-discovery, I personally and professionally, want to see actions taken.
2. Do it for yourself, not someone else.
This sounds simple, but the pressure from our loved ones who care deeply about us, can make us reach out to get others to stop asking. If you are doing it because you feel others expect it, don’t engage. It’s not worth it. You are not in a place to do anything with the information and it can be counterproductive. If anything, it can make matters worse. Being in the right “headspace” to begin the walk to what’s next should not be taken lightly. Although, I will say…I believe blessings come from doing something you initially did not want to do. Bottom line, do it because you are ready.
3. Don’t put the “folder of knowledge” in a drawer.
You’ve gained 90 pages of rich information about all of your natural gifts. You ROCK! But you celebrate your uniqueness then file it away. The power of assessments and aptitude testing results are living, working, documents. They should be reviewed at least once a year. It’s amazing what you forget. Use the language to enrich your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile. It’s part of gaining language about what makes you unique.
4. Do Your Homework!
It kills me when people work with me through this extensive experience then don’t do their homework. It literally kills me. You’ve spent 6-8 hours engaging in the intake process, testing, meeting one-on-one with me and coming back for the following sessions. You’ve gained incredible insight into careers ideal for you, then homework isn’t completed. This is THE most important part of the process. Or clients skip homework, only doing online research not talking to individuals in potential career pathways or job shadowing. I can’t overemphasize how important out of the client counseling session homework plays in being confident about your next chapter.
5. Sometimes it’s not the right time for change.
Burn out and life stresses are real. There are many factors that go into wanting to make a change. But sometimes, just talking with someone and working through your experiences it’s determined that the change may be in the same field but on a different “team.” Responsibilities make it challenging to make a significant change but there’s no one “right” answer. It’s why career development is such a complicated conversation and experience. Changes don’t often come quickly or easily. Sometimes the right time is a year, two, or five years down the road. It’s also why it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
6. Trust the Expert!
I chuckle when I’m working with an individual who wants a new career or job but likes to challenge information that is valid in industry. An example is the power of LinkedIn. For the record, adults are not the only ones who fight me on this…many young adults decide this is where they want to draw the line on their “social media.” LinkedIn is not social. It’s professional. If you are using it for anything political or social, you are misunderstanding the purpose of LinkedIn.
Most importantly, when an individual decides to go to someone for guidance, trust in their recommendations. When I speak to groups, I tell the story about a Ph.D. level student who applied for 200 jobs with zero response. Zero! There was a reason. She wasn’t on LinkedIn. She wasn’t networking. She was from a different country where networking was not used to gain employment. And she wondered why she was so frustrated and defeated.
7. Finally, Trust Yourself!
Our inner voices are pretty powerful. One size approach does not fit everyone. It’s what I love so much about working with people across the US. Each one has a story that is uniquely personal to them. I heard a respected career professional state, “The clients know their stories” in determining how to fit pieces of the career exploration puzzle together. I love that because although career development individuals help give context, insight, and perspective to a conversation, YOU know your truth. Are you REALLY ready for a change? If you are, then be willing to get uncomfortable, but with someone who cares about your success.
I know I speak for many experienced career counselors when I say we are the experts. We live and breathe this industry 24/7. We do it because we truly love the field. We’ve obtained advanced degrees in counseling because the conversations are serious. We do it because our hearts want to help people. I hope you’re really ready.