Four steps for moving forward in your professional life
“I’m at a crossroads in terms of my professional life. I want to move on but I’m not sure where I want to go, or what role I want to do. It feels comfortable where I am, so it would be easy to stay and I know what to expect, but it doesn’t fill me with joy every day and it doesn’t make me feel great about myself either”.
This was the beginning of a conversation I had with a client last week, as she began sharing the dissatisfaction she has with her current job role.
Moving on and changing roles is such a huge decision. Not only do we have the ‘where to look and what role’ questions to answer, we also have a whole host of internal chatter to contend with:
- What if they find out I am no good at what I say I do?
- What if I don’t fit in?
- What if I make the wrong decision?
- What if I fail?
- What if...?
With all these ‘what if’s’ we become quite literally glued to the spot, unable to pluck up the courage to go for it.
Sometimes the decision is made for us. Having experienced redundancy on two occasions I know that it can feel like the worst situation to find ourselves in; the fear, uncertainty and insignificance we feel at the time means that being resilient enough to pick ourselves back up, get out there and fill the gap in our professional life is more difficult than if we had been the one to make the decision to leave.
So how do we begin to move forward?
In both scenarios, there are steps we can take to help get our professional life back on track. Here are just a few.
1. Your goal
Having a goal, or outcome is an essential element of moving forward and gets our mind focused on what we want, rather than what we don’t want. Decide what type of work you want to be doing, the values you have in relation to work, and the type of environment you want to be in. identify the kind of people you want to be working with and how you want work to dovetail into the other aspects of your life.
2. Your current reality
Once you have decided on your goals, look at your current situation. If you are in a role, how does your work align with the goals you have, which of your values does it enable you to fulfil, and what aspects are missing. Consider how you feel about the work you do and whether it energises or drains you. We all have core emotional needs around certainty and significance, so understanding whether your role enables you to feel secure and good about yourself are essential factors to take into account.
3. Options and obstacles
The next step looks at what options you have that will enable you to move closer towards what you want and the obstacles that are in your way. What would need to change for you to be able to achieve your goals? There will be some practical steps you can take, as well as a number of thoughts and feelings to be addressed.
Quite often the beliefs we have about ourselves hold us back, so changing these beliefs to be empowering and resourceful will automatically remove some of the blocks and challenges.
4. Gaining courage and building resilience
Regardless of your current situation there are two important elements that will help you to get your professional life back on track: courage and resilience.
Courage needs to outweigh any fear we have about making a change and it’s quite often the thing that we lack. Ask yourself this question: What would need to change for me to have the courage I need to do...? This is a great way to surface the thoughts and beliefs that are getting in the way and holding you back. Once you are clear about what they are, replacing them with empowering beliefs will boost your courage and enable you to move forward.
For specific events, giving yourself a confidence boost beforehand through a visual rehearsal can be so helpful and makes an incredible difference to your mindset and behaviour on the actual day. Visualising the event going exactly as you want it to, seeing, hearing and feeling everything from beginning to end will ensure you focus on these positive aspects rather than your nerves, doubts or uncertainties.
Resilience is all about our ability to bounce back from difficult situations, or setbacks. It ensures we keep persevering and don’t give up. It’s pretty essential in all aspects of life, and certainly if you are changing roles, or looking to get back into work.
Getting to the root cause of your negative thoughts and feelings can help to build your resilience. Start by thinking about the situation which is making you feel vulnerable of fragile and sit with the uncomfortable feelings, labelling each aspect: what pictures are you seeing in your head? What words, or phrases are surfacing and what feelings do you have in your body?
Once you have defined what specifically is causing you to feel vulnerable, ask yourself what unhelpful meaning you are giving to the situation, whether your concerns are worth worrying about properly and what action you can take.
So, is it better to stay put or take control, so that you can be, do and have more of what you want in life? Moving on from an existing role, or getting back into the workplace can feel daunting, however the benefits awaiting you can be equally as rewarding.