Monday, 1 May 2023

A Successful Career Change Means Getting Uncomfortable

Most human beings cling to comfort, though science has proven that when you step outside of your comfort zone, that is where the most significant achievement takes place. If it weren't for taking uncertain steps out into a scary world, we would still be living in caves and throwing rocks at dinosaurs, waiting around for someone to discover fire. Thomas Alva Edison would never have given us the light bulb, and we probably wouldn't know that bacon goes great with everything.


Thinking about changing careers can be scary. 


Most people just stay right where they are, because they are frightened by the possibility of failure. Since they have their family to provide for, they make the justification that they shouldn't tempt fate, since moving to a new career might not turn out so well. So that person sticks with their current career even though they are not happy, years later wondering "what could have been."


If You Never Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone, How Do You Know What You Are Truly Capable Of?


Sports records fall every day because athletes keep pushing themselves. They are not happy with their current level of achievement. They want to know how good they can be, so they train and work very hard. They push themselves out of their comfort zone, their regular training regimen. They lift heavier weights, work out longer, and run faster. The result of becoming uncomfortable, training as they have never trained before, is new personal bests and sometimes world records.


This is because of something known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law. Dodson and Yerkes were a couple of psychologists who, in the earliest years of the 20th century, discovered that stress leads to achievement. What they found was that significant achievement did not happen until a person took small steps outside of the environment, surroundings, and behaviors where he felt most comfortable.


Small Steps Lead to Big Change


They noted that when someone was put in an entirely uncomfortable, stressful environment, performance was horrible. However, taking small steps outside of a person's comfort zone slowly began to expand the area where that person was happy and comfortable. Over time, it becomes easier and easier to take on new tasks and expose yourself to unfamiliar experiences.


If your job is killing you, physically or mentally, maybe you should switch careers. Don't take a giant leap, take a baby step instead. Rather than immediately moving from one career to another, why not take a part-time job in a career that interests you? Maybe you can sign up for classes or certification in some field that has captured your attention. These small steps outside of your comfort zone will eventually give you the confidence to move onto an entirely different career if your current field of employment is not working out.


Create Your Own Unique Measuring Stick When Changing Careers

Far and away, the most popular reason someone usually gives for wanting to change their careers is to make more money. Money is a necessity. It is what modern societies have come to agree upon as a method for determining the value of things that may or may not be similar. You need it to keep a roof over your head, provide for your family, and put food on the table.


The most common way of earning money is employment. You work a job for an individual or a company, and they pay you a certain amount of money for your time and efforts. Because just about everyone is familiar with the concept of money, and it is such an important aspect of our daily lives, it makes sense that this would be a motivating factor for changing jobs or careers.


Another reason given for switching careers is a desire to be recognized for the work that you do. You may be looking for power or fame, or simply want less stress and more free time in your life. Those are all common reasons you may be thinking about entering a new field of employment.


Maybe you should think again.


Far too often, people get caught up in traditional or conventional ways of thinking. You think a particular way because you were taught to believe that way. The clothes you wear and the food you eat are often heavily influenced by what advertisers tell you is popular or cool. If you enjoy wearing a particular shirt, pair of pants, or shoes because you like how they look and feel on you, then by all means, wear that particular item of clothing.


However, you should think about where your motivation comes from.


Do you want to buy a particular pair of shoes because they are all the rage right now? That may not be the best reason for making a purchase. What happens in a few months when some other type of shoe is the new fashion "must-have," and your current shoes are uncool? You can ask yourself the same question regarding switching careers.


Is the reason you are thinking about entering a new field about more money or more free time? You may believe that is exactly what you want. Ask yourself though, is it really? If you enjoy your job but money is a problem, could you sit down and work out a budget that made more sense for you? This could reveal sources of savings which would meet your financial desires, and you could keep a job you liked.


There is nothing wrong with using a traditional measure of success as a reason for changing careers. Just make sure that whatever yardstick you use to measure success in your life takes into account your unique personality, desires, and goals.


Streamline Your Expenses to Prepare for a Career Change

Swapping one career for another can be incredibly stressful. That is the best-case scenario. Sometimes, the mental fatigue and anxiety experienced when considering moving to another area of employment can lead to physical and mental health problems. The last thing you should be doing is adding to your stress.


This means you should have your finances in order before you decide to start upon an entirely new career path.


You should already have a budget that you follow religiously. If you don't, start one now. Write down every single outgoing expense and every bit of income. Look for ways to streamline your outgoings, and improve your income. If there is no way you can earn more money, just cut back on your expenses. This will account for automatic savings, which can present a nice cushion if your career change doesn't offer the immediate financial rewards you're looking for.


When switching careers, it is common for you to have to start out earning less money than you are now. This is not always the case, but it is much of the time. Having a year's worth of living expenses tucked away gives you the peace of mind to dedicate your mental energy to succeed in your new career. You won't be worrying at the end of the month how you are going to pay your bills.


You may also decide to take on a part-time job to make some extra money. 


If you do this, try to get employment that will teach you skills and abilities useful in your new career. A part-time job makes you money two different ways. Obviously, you get paid for your labor. Also, if you are spending a few evenings each week working, those are not nights you are out and about spending money.


You may have an opportunity to move into a smaller home or apartment. If this makes sense for you, by all means, do it. Cutting down on your monthly rent or mortgage is a fast way to free up some substantial money. Have a garage sale, or sell some of your possessions online. If you like gardening, start a backyard garden and sell your produce at a local farmers' market.


If you're serious about changing careers, you don't need a lack of money to make the situation harder than it already will be. Ask yourself some hard questions about the money you spend, and see if you can generate any new income. In just 6 and 12 months you could set aside enough money to keep your mental focus on your new career, instead of worrying about your finances.


How to Determine the "Big Why" Behind Your Desire to Change Careers

Human beings are excellent at adapting to new environments. We have powerful brains and capable bodies, and the way we are hardwired allows us to succeed in unfamiliar areas if we have to. This inherent ability sometimes leads us to question our current career path. You may have done this yourself. You are pretty confident that you can succeed in some other career, because your current occupation doesn't reward you financially, mentally, or in some other way that you desire.


You should always be looking for ways to better yourself, physically and mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Some people decide to bounce from one career to another for purely financial reasons. Your motivation may be to spend more time with your family or to retire at a younger age. If you are seriously considering changing careers, you may have a new field of employment in mind.


Don't leave your current career until you understand the "Big Why" behind your desire to move on.


Find a quiet room in your house where you feel comfortable. Don't try this practice at work. Wait until you have some free time to yourself. Take a few deep breaths and clear your thoughts. Then ask yourself this simple question, "Why do I want to change careers?"


Your first answer is going to be a knee-jerk reaction. It is going to be something that people traditionally leave jobs and careers for. One of the most popular reasons for seeking a new occupation is to make more money. If that was your answer to this question, that could be a very valid reason, but it is far from your deep-down desire for a career change.


The next step in the process is to ask yourself, "Why do I want to make more money?" You may answer that you are tired of being broke all the time, and living paycheck to paycheck. Now it is time to ask yourself, "Why am I tired of being broke all the time?" You may finally say to yourself that you hate being broke because it makes you feel like a failure, and you will never be able to travel and see the world, which has been a lifelong dream.


That is a real "Big Why"!


In the beginning, you thought consciously that you only wanted to change careers to make more money. Money has very little to do with it, other than money is the vehicle which will allow you to travel and see the world. This is "why" you want to make more money. You only discovered this as your main motivating factor when you kept asking yourself "why" after each successive answer.


Sit down and ask yourself why you are considering moving from one career to another. 


Your initial answer is not going to be your true motivation or desire. After each successive answer keep asking yourself why you feel that way. Eventually, you will discover your "Big Why." This is the emotion-driven motivation that you need to never forget. Write it down on a piece of paper and carry it with you, looking at it several times a day. This will give you the focus and courage to make the career change necessary to realize your most important dreams and desires.