Changing Career

It’s often said that on average, people are now likely to have three careers before they retire, whether this is due to conscious decision making and/or organic twists and turns.

After a crappy day, who doesn’t come home and bang on to whoever will listen about wanting to change career. Yet when these thoughts become more frequent and more vivid, it’s often a pretty clear sign that something needs to change.

Changing career is a daunting prospect and a real leap of faith. What if it all goes belly up?! What happens then….?! Often that thought alone can stop us in our tracks. Yet what if doesn’t go belly up and it’s the best decision you’ve ever made? For most of us, this involves a real shift in mindset and I often get asked how one starts this process off.  

Start with Why
Before making any drastic decisions, a good starting point is to understand your ‘why’. Simon Sinek in his 2009 book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action states that people are biologically inspired by a sense of purpose, or why. In this case, understanding this can help us clarify what we do really want from our careers and our lives overall. Look back at why you’ve made the career and life decisions you have to help you understand this a little better. What have you enjoyed; what’s made you feel fulfilled; given you a sense of achievement; seen you at you best? If all jobs paid the same, what would you do? What do you want to look back on with pride? What would you like your legacy to be? Ask yourself why after each answer. This isn’t something that you’ll decide in 5 minutes, it can often take months to figure it out, but once you’re open to establishing this, you’re more likely to start to spot the type of things that are in line with your why or your purpose.  

Understand the Current Issues
Be clear as to the main issue(s) which are prompting you to consider a change. If these were addressed, what difference it would make? For example, if your boss didn’t have a ferocious temper, would you actually quite like going to work? If your role was more clearly defined, would that make your working week a little easier to navigate? If you were given some feedback and made to feel more included and recognised, how would this affect things?  Or if you didn’t have a 4 hour commute each day and worked closer to home, would you still be thinking about a career change?       

Be Open
Being clearer on your why and more open to change helps open your mind in searching for new opportunities. Whereas previously, you may have heard a voice in your head say “I’d love to do that but it’s too late”, or “I don’t have the right experience,” a different mindset prompts different questions such as “how could I do that” and “how can I get the right experience?” Have a look online at company and industry websites; press articles; social media; industry events and talk to your network as you don’t know who may know someone useful. How can you find out more?

Financial Planning
A natural block for many of us is finance. A career change may require an investment in training, a period of not being paid, and/or a drop in salary to begin with. However, knowing your why can help you develop a plan as to how this could work for you, whether this is this year, next year or in 5 years time, keeping you focused on taking action rather than writing the idea off. Tot up your monthly income and expenditure (including pension and contingencies). What do you need to comfortably have to enable you to transition? Explore if there are there grants and low interest loans available. Do you need to continue in your current role and have a ‘side hustle’ to affordably transition? Keep asking yourself how you can achieve what you’re looking to achieve. If you talk yourself out of it based on your finances, revisit your why and ask yourself how you can afford to do what you want to do. Revisit your financial plan with a new mindset and see what tweaks can be made. You may prefer to take small steps over a longer period of time with far lower costs and impact on your finances, i.e. start with an online taster course, do some weekend volunteering, join relevant FB and Linked In groups and attend a weekend or evening seminar.  

Story and Identity
Our identity and status can be wrapped up in our career, often exacerbated by social media. It can be easy to become overly aware of what others are doing in their carefully crafted online lives and careers, however you have no idea what ‘s going on for them in reality.  Also, when you’re looking back at your life and career in 40 years time, will you actually care what Jane from uni thought back in 2019? I instead invite you to write a new story and a new identity to suit you now and resonate with your why. It may not feel right overnight; it may involve some tweaks to eventually do so, but when it does, keep repeating it to yourself to bed in and eventually find yourself naturally taking action in line with your updated and relevant identity. Many people have daily affirmations to help them clearly visualise this and take action.         

Take Action
Focus on action. Taking small steps overtime can lead to big changes, and so taking action, no matter how small, is key. When you hear yourself say that you can’t do something, ask yourself how could you do it? If you feel overwhelmed, ask yourself what’s the first thing you need to do next to move things along. It may be read an article, watch a free webinar or update your CV, but keep your eye on the prize and consistently moving forward.

You’ve got this. Good luck!

If you’d like a further discussion about how Carrot Coaching can help you change career, please do not hesitate to contact us at to arrange a 30 minute no obligation discovery call.     


Julie Greaves