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I can VS I can't: How the career-changer's mind navigates uncertainty

Does this ongoing fluctuation from ‘I can do it’ to ‘I can’t do it’ feel familiar while changing career? It certainly did to me. Finding a purposeful career path can be exciting but as you will have already noticed, also draining at times. The mindset fluctuations I have experienced on my own journey to setting up my coaching business are numerous, but it is a normal part of creating meaningful change!

I will be sharing some learning that has supported me and my coaching clients when it comes to navigating uncertainty.

But for now, let’s explore...

What is your most frequent mindset fluctuation?

What are your usual suspects of ‘I can/I can’t’?

LEARNING 1 is about... SPEED!

It is normal to speed up and stall – we have all done it. I mean, really.

When the motivation is there and anything feels possible, it is easy to go for it. When it doesn’t though, remember that it is a process. Re-centre yourself with whatever works for you (walk, mindfulness, exercise). Give it a moment- you probably need it. Then start exploring what you need to keep/stop doing? And what you could do differently?

Little personal story

When I started to actively develop my business, I noticed those different phases from ‘everything is possible’ to ‘it is never going to work’. Some of it was due to some limiting beliefs I hadn’t addressed yet, others due to the internal/external strategies I used which were more reactive than planned. Developing a business is fascinating and I am still learning every day but there are a few things I started/stopped doing:

What do you need to start/stop doing? What could you do differently?

LEARNING 2 is about... giving it time!

Meaningful change takes time- you are growing, you are learning, you are changing.

Every day you are creating something new and are no longer the person you were yesterday, especially when you start doing things you have never done before. When translating this into the world, the impact cannot be exactly the same. So as cheesy as this may sound, you do need to keep going.

Little personal story

I started my career as a language and intercultural trainer. My business was doing well, and I had become pretty good at what I did. After 8 years of working for myself, I realised I needed a change and wanted to explore a career within the charity sector. Finding a first role in a purposeful sector turned out to be a little more challenging than I had anticipated at the time! Although I had many years of business acumen, I didn’t have enough experience working as an employee. It took me several months, but I had finally identified what to change in my approach and… I got the job. So what kept me going?

So, what will keep you going?

What do you know about yourself that will support this transition?

LEARNING 3 is about… finding your allies!

You could do this alone but being surrounded is soooo much better.

Knowing that I was not the only one on this journey and getting some support was a game-changer. Having someone holding your dream for you while you pick yourself up in your moments of doubts is invaluable.

Little personal story

When I started my coaching business, doubt was often creeping in: Is this the right career for me? Am I being too idealistic? What about all the other ideas I have I would need to let go of? If I don’t get results now, does it mean it is time to stop trying? It was so easy to get side-tracked and to find reasons not to give it a proper go. If it weren’t for my mentor back then, I may have given up because it can sometimes be hard to always connect to the bigger picture when uncertainty gets in the way. Bouncing back ideas and knowing this person believed in me was the boost I needed to be resourceful. One thing she told me that I will always remember was ‘You need to close a door and make space for something else to come in’. I did, and something else did come my way. More purpose-driven clients found me, and I was asked to design career and wellbeing resources for a national job seeker campaign!

So, find your community, your network, your person to keep you on the road:

Who could you get onboard to be your accountability buddy?

Where could you find advice, guidance and/or ongoing support?

Who could you exchange and share your stories with to help you stay on track?

LEARNING 4 is about… perfectionism!

You don’t need to know EVERYTHING before starting something.

I can guarantee that it can actually be counter-productive to try and get ‘everything right’ before taking action. Here is why:

Little personal story

The first ever one to one language class I did was with one vocabulary book, a pen and a piece of paper- I was 22. I feel a bit sorry for my first client reflecting back on it now…! The funny thing though was that they didn’t seem to mind because they could feel my passion and enthusiasm. I quickly knew that this was my next step and I started mapping out what I needed to get better! I bought more books, created lesson plans, assessed the client’s need, read about adult education (and eventually did a degree etc). I ended up becoming a university lecturer, taught students in India and worked for high profile organisations… It all started with a pen and a couple of books.

What can you start doing now especially when it is not perfect?

How can you reflect on your experience to keep improving?

LEARNING 5 is about… stopping rather than pushing!

Pushing through isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, your best ideas will come from stillness.

As we know, we have our plans, but life also has its own agenda. Whenever we decide to change career or set up a business, there might be some unexpected bumps on the road. Mine was to have been diagnosed with a chronic health condition that requires a lot of self-care, so resilience is a big part of my personal and professional journey!

Little personal story

When things get hard, the thought of ‘needing to push through’ can feel like going against the current at times. It certainly was the case for me. Running a business means juggling many roles and responsibilities at once, but what I also needed to manage was … well, myself. Being so (stubbornly!) driven and passionate about what I was creating, it was easy to neglect what is now my number one priority – my wellbeing. One day, I stopped everything - or more accurately, my body stopped everything for me. I was forced to look inside. Something needed to change. I needed to re-evaluate the way I was developing my business and how I was spending my energy. So, I paused- I went for mindful walks, spent some time meditating (that’s what helps me recharge personally) and this happened:

1. I decided to change my working hours and pattern

2. I realised I needed more focus and to take things one step at a time rather than doing everything simultaneously

3. I identified I needed some mentoring support on my journey

4. I made the decision to put self-care at the top of my priority list

I implemented all those strategies as I knew they were right for me, and it has dramatically changed things in unexpected ways. Habits could have led me to keep pushing to ‘get things done’ but pausing, listening and trusting my intuition made all the difference.

Do you know where/when to stop to reassess your own strategies?


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