Let’s be real. Our collective annus horribilis appears to be in full swing because we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. With the threat of a continually mutating virus (Hello, Omicron) and unrest everywhere, the fight for public health care and civil rights seems unending.
But no matter how bleak and hopeless the world seems right now, let’s not forget that every cloud has a silver lining. Maybe this period of physical isolation and increased social awareness is exactly what you need to explore a shift in your career.
Millions have done it.
The Great Resignation
In the US, more than 24 million (a record number) have left their jobs; most have opted out of labor employment. People in Japan, China, and Germany are doing the same, rethinking their work and life. And realizing that a relentless 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week job isn’t good for one’s mental health; always staying on, always being available — except to what and who truly matter the most.
In the Philippines, the resignations are specific to a profession: health care. Doctors and nurses and hospital staff have quit amid unreasonable working conditions, unfair wages, lack of benefits and protection, and utter exhaustion. Some have chosen to work abroad, others have left the health care industry altogether.
But how do you make a career shift at 30, 40, 50 . . . ?
Redefine Your Career Goals
This is a bit personal, but let me tell you that people think I have everything figured out. And for a period in my life, I did. But that’s something I had to move on from and now, at almost 25, I feel more lost than ever.
Am I in the right career path? Did I make the right decision? Should I go or should I stay? In addition to everything else that’s going on around the world, these questions keep me up at night. But at the recent Dear Class of 2020 commencement speech by BTS, I took comfort in the word of the oldest member Jin.
“Sometimes, I’d feel restless watching my friends go on far ahead of me,” he started in a rare show of vulnerability and seriousness. “I soon realized that their pace was not my own. What held me together during those times was a promise I made with myself to take it slow.”
Jin then proceeded to say there’s no need to rush when you’re lost in doubt, uncertainty, or the pressure of starting again. Sometimes, you have to sit back and assess your situation before chasing your dreams.
Bangtan’s resident tough guy Suga follows this up with a reminder to “take your hands off what you can’t control and get your hands on what you can change… because your possibilities are limitless.”
With those words in mind, here are five key principles to help you redefine your career goals and turn your life around:
- Explore multiple options. Career change will always be a messy exploration of different ideas. Although you have one goal in mind, entertain the different means by which you can get there.
- Leave the past behind. You’ll never move forward if you’re too scared to let go. Accept that you may have learned a lot from your past, but you have to move on to what makes you happy.
- Put in the effort. In her Dear Class of 2020 speech, Beyoncé said she “had to go and chop down that wood and build my own table.” She wants you to get off your ass and do the same.
- Connect with people. The pandemic reinforced the value of online communication. Use it to your advantage by connecting with people who can help you jumpstart your new career.
- Talk about your plans. Your career goal may seem like a distant dream if you keep it in your mind. Talk about it with someone you trust. Discussing it out loud makes it a reality.
Any moment, no matter how good or bad, can be turned into an opportunity for change. These tumultuous times may hold that golden opportunity you’ve been hoping for. But it isn’t something you simply wait for and expect to fall into your lap. Keep your eyes on the prize and work hard for it.
Find a New Job — That You Love
I’m not even kidding when I say my life has changed since I watched Netflix’s “Cheer” and heard Monica Aldama say, “You keep going until you get it right, then you keep going until you can’t get it wrong.”
The mindset of Navarro’s beloved cheer coach is something to adopt, especially when you’re in the process of switching careers and chasing your dreams. You can’t expect to jump to the top of the ladder without sweating on your way up.
You can’t give up after hearing the first “no.” It’s a part of the process.
Here are some reminders that keep you productive while you’re looking for your dream job amid political unrest and a global pandemic:
- Define your long-term career plan. Don’t jump into the first opportunity that comes your way. Consider whether the offers you get are really helpful for how you want your life to be in 10 years.
- Take personal inventory. What is that you love and hate about your job? Figure out what stops you from being productive and what inspires you to perform well. This step will help you identify skills, values, and interests that’ll match you to the right job in the right industry.
- Be aware of your chosen industry’s needs. Some industries are currently at a standstill. Find out whether you can afford to start a job search now.
- Maximize social media and online networking. The internet has an answer for everything. That includes the people you have to connect and communicate with to boost your career growth.
- Hone your skills and expand your knowledge. Now that you’re spending more time at home, you can focus better on boosting your skills and bolstering your dream job qualifications.
- Learn to be patient with yourself. The road to success will be bumpy. Don’t take rejections too hard. Focus on your improvement and you’ll eventually reach your dream destination.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to keep us at home for the sake of public health. It’s understandable if you feel a decline in productivity. These are unprecedented times for a lot of us, after all.
Go at your own pace, even if that means plotting your next career step for weeks before actually making a move.
When Do You Make a Career Shift?
A shift in your professional life is a major decision, and should not be taken on a whim. Although it would be nice to up and leave job in a snap, such a bold move doesn’t work for your financial security. Not especially if you’re the lone breadwinner.
You know you’re ready to change jobs (or industries) when:
- You’re mentally checked out. You’re not usually underperforming and missing deadlines. But lately, you’ve just lost the will. And you’re not bothered one bit about being disconnected at work.
- You hit the snooze button more often. It’s a tell-tale sign you don’t want to go to work. You used to be excited about getting up and clocking in. But now, you dread going to work. You’re anxious about those Zoom meetings.
- Your salary is the only thing keeping you employed. Not a bad reason to still be working, but it’s also not good for your mental health. If money is the only thing that keeps you going, every day will feel like pulling teeth. For some, it’ll feel like a dental operation without anesthesia.
- You dream about a new career. And it happens more frequently. You’re checking LinkedIn Jobs than answering work emails. You’re jealous of other people in your company who have moved on to other jobs.
- Your personal life isn’t peachy. A job you dislike has a way of affecting your personal life. You tend to be shorter with other people. You’re not as tolerant as you used to be, so your relationships are suffering. In its advanced stage, job dissatisfaction will manifest physically with frequent headaches and pain in parts of your body you never knew could feel discomfort.
If you’ve ticked all of these things, you’re primed for a different job. Maybe even a different field. When you are, start this life changing process.
It’s OK to feel scared about leaving your comfort zone to explore something new. It’s normal to have second thoughts about resigning from your current job to work on your dream career. But you should lay down your plan before jumping into the unknown and working your way up again.
And remember, no matter what challenges life throws at you, you can handle it because you are a strong woman. Take it from Maya Angelou. It’s in the click of your heels, the bend of your hair, and the palm of your hand — you’re destined to be phenomenal. So be brave and chase your dream job.