Considering a change in career?

Updated: Sep 19, 2019

"The only thing constant is change" said ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus. While this may be a bit unsettling, it is a fact of life that we all have to accept.

I was speaking to a friend the other day and she mentioned that her mother has had (so far) 3 careers in her lifetime. 3 careers! How amazing. How did she transition from one to another? Was it difficult? Did she have to learn new skills? These and many questions swirled around in my head. But then I remembered some of my amazing friends who are already on their second careers in their mid thirties and early forties, such as;

  • My friend K who switched from his legal career to interior design;

  • My best friend A who temporarily switched from a career in academia to being a hat designer and switched back again; and

  • My friend N who started out as a surgical nurse and transitioned into fashion designing.

It is obvious that these individuals and others like them have certain skills which enable them move seamlessly from one career to another. What are these skills and how can we make sure we develop and utilise them in our career journey in order to have as many opportunities as possible?

1. Good organisational skills. Can you plan your affairs efficiently? Can you keep track of all our appointments, meetings, orders, emails and phone calls? Having good organisational skills is often taken for granted but is a vital skill to have in order to ensure the success of whatever business or career you find yourself in. Luckily technology has afforded us tools to help keep us organised. Check out Trello, Habit List and Asana as well as any simple calendar apps such as Google Calendar. Now you have no excuse!

2. Excellent language skills. Whatever the official language of your country (mine is English), you need to ensure that your written and spoken language competencies are par excellence. Good writing and reading abilities enable you explore alternative careers (many of which are freelance) in proof-reading, technical writing, rapporteuring and many more. Also, these skills enable you build up a good profile in your current career regardless of whether you choose to switch careers or not. Don't be afraid to ask for help in this area if needed.

3. Good people management skills. In the cases of my friends mentioned above, they all had to manage people; artisans, tailors, assistants, suppliers, customers and staff. Managing people takes a lot of patience, tolerance and humility. Sometimes people will leave you after years of training/support, and you will have to come up with Plans B, C and D to keep things going. Learning from the experiences of others who have walked the path before you, goes a long way in building up your people management skills.

4. Having a growth mindset. Psychologist Carol Dweck developed the concept of the "growth mindset" in her book Mindset: the new psychology of success. which essentially involves continuous learning, resilience, drawing inspiration from others and pursuing excellence. Whatever career you find yourself in, (even if you have a natural flair for your chosen area), will require some learning. Learning how the business of your new career works, the culture of the organisation or the culture you want to create, the regulatory and legal matters you need to consider...... the list goes on. Learning never ends!

Check out my earlier blog posts on 6 Key Skills for your Career and Soft Skills which may also be helpful.

Best Wishes and Happy 2019!

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