Self belief and a sense of adventure are invaluable assets for career changers. In tandem they provide the kind of resilient confidence you need to thrive in uncertain times.
Whether you struggle to muster these traits or have them in spades is largely a matter of mindset. A fixed mindset makes it tough to ride the career change roller coaster. A flexible mindset doesn’t – no matter how long or windy the ride.
Checking your mindset gives you an insight into how skilfully you’re likely to manage career change. If you find you’re ‘fixed’ but you’re keen to be ‘flexible’, here are three ways to kick start the shift.
Question your limits
A fixed mindset will tell you that your abilities and strengths are finite. They’re part of your unalterable genetic inheritance – like height, hair colour and your dad’s lop sided grin.
Therefore, your life’s work is to prove that you’re sufficiently gifted to succeed. When things don’t’ work out, that’s proof positive that you simply don’t have what it takes.
Faced with a career change challenge, a fixed mindset goes into ‘be good' overdrive.
Every encounter is a chance to prove that your quota of inborn smarts equips you to outstrip real or imagined competitors. Heaven help you if you miss out at interview, mess up that coffee meeting with a new lead or mangle your pitch to go part time.
While most of us occasionally wonder whether or not we’re ‘good enough’, fear of not ‘measuring up’ is a fixed mind’s default setting. Start building a more flexible mindset by eyeballing this limiting belief and the other self-sabotaging assumptions it spawns.
List your fixed minded fears about the chances of making a successful career change. If you’re stuck for a start point, here are some I prepared earlier.
Knowing how fixed mindedness is holding you back helps you make the mental room you need to change it.
Challenge scary thoughts
Moving to more flexible mindset means disrupting panicky thoughts and feelings. Start with these strategies for calming your shouty inner demons. Once you’ve won a bit of mental ‘hush’, try this funny provocative TED talk on reprogramming your brain to deal with ‘negative, angry, rubbish thoughts.
Reinforce this inner shift towards a gentler more flexible mindset by checking the external evidence for doing things well. Reality check your assumptions when things don’t go to plan against feedback on your actual performance in interviews and courses and meetings. Ask for specific feedback on the strengths, abilities and experience you felt were crucial to a successful outcome. Ask ‘what do I need to change?’
Restore your perspective with insight and encouragement from your cheer squad. Be alert for random and unsolicited comments that highlight your skills and potential.
The ‘Feedback Rush’ podcast by Jocelyn K Glei from Hurry Slowly has some great tips on getting and giving feedback that ’powers you up’.
Swap ‘prove’ for improve’
Set career change goals that focus on ‘getting better’. Acknowledge that you’re engaged in a ‘work in progress’ and give yourself heaps of room to play and practice and experiment as you build new skills and hone existing ones. Aim for ‘improving my networking skills’ as opposed to ‘be a great networker’ or ‘learn to use Wordpress’ rather than ‘build a fab website’.
Practice ‘faking it ‘til you make it’. Even if you feel scared and unprepared for your next career change move – keep heading towards it. Then watch your surprisingly capable self survive or even thrive. Gather the evidence that you’re ‘good enough’ and have ‘whatever it takes’ – talent, skills, experience, courage, front, to take the next tiny or massive step.
When things do go awry, reframe ‘failure’- as a sign that you’re capable and gutsy NOT flawed and incompetent. Channel Thomas Edison who said of his gazillion unsuccessful attempts make a working light bulb “I have not failed, not once. I’ve discovered ten thousand ways that don’t work.”
Take your time
As you get better at thinking and acting flexibly your amazing elastic brain changes to reflect and protect these new behaviours. This essential neural rewiring happens with practice over time. Accept that fixed mindedness makes it hard to be patient and kind to your imperfect, evolving self. Smile when you catch yourself feeling frustrated or fearful about not being ‘good enough’.
By Jo Green, Career Change Coach
I know that when you find what you love, heart and soul, your life changes. I work every day with people who are reshaping their current careers, starting new enterprises or searching for a new direction. Basically I help people who don’t like their job to figure out what to do instead!
As a Careershifters and Firework Advanced Certified Coach and experienced career changer myself, I can help you figure out what fulfilling work looks like for you.
Drop me a note to organise a free 20 minute consultation to chat about your career change and how coaching could help.