First, figure out what you want from your career.
July 20, 2018 5 min read
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“I leave at 7 a.m. and get home at 7 p.m. to see my children for 30 minutes a day.”
“My partner is taking a job across the country and I am terrified about starting over.”
“I don’t see a current ladder to success that I am excited to climb.”
“I want to work and love my industry, but need more flexibility.”
Sound familiar? These are just a sample of the reasons why women feel a pull to leave their jobs, yet 80 percent of those who plan to leave their current position in the next two years, intend to remain in the workforce. But, what next?
For many women, this is the most daunting question. It was for me five years ago. I had two toddlers and I knew I didn’t want to return to my earlier days of broadcast journalism and the frenetic schedule that comes with it. I also knew I wanted to remain engaged in the workforce, build my career and have the flexibility to manage my family needs too. “What do I want to do now?” was quickly followed by, “What am I qualified to do?” and, “What are my options?”
What came next was a deep dive into my own motivations, fears and abilities. The result is The Second Shift, a company I co-founded in 2013 as a solution for women facing similar life/work choices. In the process I have spoken with, interviewed and coached thousands of talented, professional women who asked themselves the same questions and decided to pursue an independent path that works for them. While there is always risk involved with change, I found there are fundamental steps that can help guide you successfully on a new career journey.
Conduct an audit.
Dive deep, be honest with yourself and maintain optimism.
1. Think through what you like about your job; what parts do you want take with you, or leave behind?
2. What do you want and need from your career personally, financially and professionally?
3. Take stock of your skill set and what sets you apart. Be brutally honest with yourself about what you do well and where you have previously failed. Ask for feedback.
4. Be realistic. Set yourself up for success by knowing what is possible for you. Don’t plan on switching from a banker to a doctor if you can’t go back to school. Don’t give up a full-time salary if you rely on it keep the lights on.
Set your intention.
Chart the path to your goals.
1. Visualize the goal. Imagine yourself living a day of your life in a year and then five years in the future. What is the goal of that life and do you like how it feels?
2. Write it down. Keep a journal of the path forward to reaching the goal and write down your thoughts and feelings as you move along.
3. Say it out loud. Telling people your plans makes it real. A dream in your head is not an intention.
4. Be confident. Use positive and strong language to own this intention. You are not hoping and wanting; you are doing.
Take a deep breath.
It’s a journey; change will not happen overnight.
1. Keep yourself on track in working toward your goal, but don’t be so rigid that you aren’t open to deviations that might lead to new opportunities.
2. Identify an outlet to temper anxiety and fear and remain calm. Take up a hobby, learn how to meditate, work out. Do your homework (see below).
3. Stay positive. Learn how to breathe deeply and be confident of the outcome.
Do your homework.
Prepare for your future success.
1. Get busy. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Set up your pricing model. Know the market you want to enter in detail.
2. Network! Get in touch with old and new colleagues and friends and tell them your plans. Take coffees, meetings and attend alumni networking events in your area.
3. Establish infrastructure at home. Does your family have extra care to give you the time and space you will need? Do you have a place to work and the tools required?
4. Brush up on your skills toolbox. Take classes, learn the latest technology that you will need to know. Make sure you are ready to jump in feet first. The demand for technological skills is expected to increase 55 percent by 2030.
5. Do projects, even if they are unpaid. It may feel like treading water, but it provides the benefit of keeping your resume fresh with new work.
Above all, do not allow fear or uncertainty to blind you to opportunities that present themselves along the way. As Michelle Obama wisely told Seventeen, “The question of what you want to be when you grow up is one that you will eternally be answering.” Realize that you may not get exactly what you wrote down at the start of this exercise, but if you are open and aware, you may see other paths and outcomes that are ultimately better. There is no limit to your professional goals if you have a positive attitude, a strong network of supporters, confidence in yourself and the commitment to do the work necessary to achieve success on your own terms.