Five Strategies for Absolutely Any Career Change

Whether you are pivoting to a new career field or just changing positions internally, consider these tips as you lay out your plan.

Career Change

The above image is an actual depiction of my lost state about four months ago.

For the last decade, I was a Human Resource Officer in the Army and decided to transition to a new career with risk3sixty. Despite the astonishing onboarding experience and team support, I was overwhelmed by the ambiguity that comes with starting a new career. I began putting too much pressure on myself to absorb fast and get everything right. It was not a sustainable model.

When starting something new, most of us are unsure where to begin. After my coaching session with one of our Managing Directors and Co-Founders, Christian White, I was inspired to design a plan that forced me to break down my goals into smaller tasks.

The process made me take a step back and develop attainable tasks which made the transition felt less daunting. Freshly in my mind, below are five tips based on my experience that helped me design an attainable plan.

Identify Your Strengths (and Areas for Improvements)

I love lists. No matter where I am, even on ladies’ nights, I always have a notepad with me (ready for spontaneous Pictionary!).

We use lists for practical everyday things in our lives, so start with a list. Know what areas you excel in and which tasks you execute well but also acknowledge your weaknesses. Understanding your strengths will give you a solid foundation but understanding your imperfections will give you the humility to admit there are areas where you can develop, learn, grow, try, fail, and try again.

Remember, this is not limited to technical skills. We tend to focus on hard skills that are essential for daily operations and easier to define and measure. But while hard skills focus on specific knowledge and abilities, soft skills are essential for leading people, solving problems, earning customer trust, and closing deals.

Be open and allow yourself to be vulnerable during the process.

Truth is grace and grace makes no exceptions. Grace and worthiness are yours for the taking.

– Glennon Doyle, Untamed

Build Rituals and Routines

Don’t be fashionably late! Build a routine that gives you a sense of security and rituals that demand thought.

As a working mother of two, it basically takes a lifetime to get out the door with everyone dressed and not looking like wild zombies. It was a massive adjustment, especially when I was a new mom in the military.

I quickly had to develop a routine that allowed me to attend 6 a.m. meetings and complete unfinished tasks. I learned the importance of establishing morning rituals.

For me, it was consuming a cup of coffee and setting out for a run before the family chaos began. It was my sense of nourishment and something I was doing, consciously, to take care of myself.

Regardless of your working condition, remote or in-person, the whole chain is disturbed if you are late or unprepared. When you show up late, it not only throws you out of the loop, but it is a distraction to the meeting.

As soon as you join the meeting or enter the room, all the attention suddenly shifts upon you. Your anxiety is at its peak. Give yourself time and mental space to be productive. Time is precious to your teammates, management, and clients, so be mindful and build routines and rituals to help you focus and celebrate!

I have learned that champions aren’t just born; champions can be made when they embrace and commit to life-changing positive habits.

– Lewis Howers

Observe, Listen, and Learn

Don’t count on clear, complete expectations being handed to you. In other words, be prepared to do some detective work.

During the first several weeks, learn to sit back and simply observe. Observe how your boss and colleagues interact. Resist the urge to talk about yourself and your success in the old job.

Get a sense of the unique personalities, culture, and opportunities to help and add value. Keep an open mind and avoid offering criticism in the first several weeks before you understand the culture and history.

Be cautious about choosing sides among team members. Understand, listen, and learn about your environment.

When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.

 – Dalai Lama

Be Mindful of Seasons

Remember, the first several weeks or months will be your season of sprints. Just about now, I can envision many of you are reaching for the red pen and getting ready to scratch out “sprints” and write “marathon” above. But kindly allow me to finish.

Life consists of seasons of hardship (sprints), routine work (runs), and sabbaticals (rests). When starting a new career whether in cybersecurity or any other career field, there is just no way around the intense upfront investment required to kick off something new.

Learning a new industry is time-consuming and mentally exhausting. Time debt will make you feel frazzled and exhausted because your mind is trying to grasp and unpack a lot of new information within a short time frame.

Be super focused and consider working at an unsustainable pace for a month or so. Remember, what takes another colleague one hour may take you two because of the lack of experience or familiarity.

For this brief time, be very intentional with your time. Keep your weekends clear and postpone social obligations and trips. Remember, a few close friends are better than a thousand, and you can always binge “The Queen’s Gambit” later.

Don’t fight stress. Embrace it. Turn it on itself. Use it to make yourself sharper and more alert. Use it to make you think and learn and get better and smarter and more effective. Use the stress to make you a better you.

– Jocko Willink

Don’t Forget Your “Why”

Do you think more about things that happened in the past, that are happening in the present, or that will happen in the future?

Once you’re beyond the excitement of the move or pivot, you may start to feel like the honeymoon is over, and you may realize that not everything is meeting your expectations. Your mind will start to move to past thoughts, and it’s easy to give in to your disappointment, become negative, and stay stationary.

I challenge you to push your present thoughts toward future thoughts of where you want to be and focus on the positive aspects of your situation. Commit yourself to do what it takes to reach your future.

My “why” is easily accessible and is kept in my planner as a constant reminder to build my resilience when I experience failure or moments of demotivation. If you can push your thoughts towards forward-thinking, you can connect and embrace your current state to push you towards your goal.

There are two ways to build a career or a business. We can go through life hunting and pecking, looking for opportunities or customers, hoping that something connects. Or we can go through life with intention, knowing what our piece looks like, knowing our WHY, and going straight to the places we fit.

– Simon Sinek

When starting a new career or position, it can be unnerving. Having a well-designed plan through self-assessment and awareness makes your transition feel less daunting and an uplifting experience. Have a well-designed plan that will be your guide during seasons of sprints, runs, and rests.

You got this!

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