Careers: Is ‘big change’ possible?
Lucy Kellaway is one of my favourite journalists. Or should I say, ‘was’. See Kellaway’s articles vanished from the Financial Times around 18 months ago. In an online article I stumbled across last week I discovered Kellaway, who was 30 years in journalism, left her post with the FT. Kellaway has just completed her first year as a school teacher.
In some ways, what Kellaway has done is incredible. In other ways, it’s not. Because ‘big change’ in careers is becoming more evident. ‘Big change’ is any significant change to your career, be it role or direction. I’ve observed friends, family, former colleagues and clients all successfully take on ‘big change’ in their career recently.
What are the ingredients for making ‘big change’ in your career?
Three things have struck me as being key to navigating ‘big change’ from observing, advising on and experiencing ‘big change’.
Pick an area you really like:
Making ‘big change’ work is not simple. It requires a lot of effort, perseverance and living with uncertainty. Lucy Kellaway describes days in her first year teaching as “sometimes exhausting”. However, the easiest way to make ‘big change’ feel ok is to choose a route you really like. This ensures a strong connection to your career. This is highlighted best by Kellaway who in spite of some exhausting days, stresses that she feels “more alive than she’s felt in decades”. Picking a direction or role you really like will provide you with the motivation and the positive mindset needed to plough through the heavy ground early on.
Embrace the ‘ugly zone’:
‘Big change’ is no oil painting. There’s times when it is going to look and feel anything but pretty. David Alred, UK-based performance coach, describes the ‘ugly zone’ as being key to navigating change. The ‘ugly zone’ is where you are faced with doing and trying new things as part of ‘big change’. At first, it feels unnatural and uncomfortable. You are learning to do something rather than mastering the skill. And so you get it wrong as much as right. The desire can be strong in the ‘ugly zone’ to give up. However, Alred highlights that it is here where we need to persist more than ever. Because this is where ‘big change’ gets bed down.
It’s inevitable you’ll find the change challenging in some shape of form. Another way to conquer the challenges is to immerse yourself in the company of people who have successfully navigated ‘big change’. These are the people who can inspire you. These are the people who can reassure you that you are going to make it work. Most importantly, these are the people who help to see ‘big change’ as being a normal part of life. And when you get to that point, you are winning.
‘Big change’ is inspirational. I’ve resolved that the capability to manage ‘big change’ is within us all.
Picking an area you really like, embracing the ‘ugly zone’ and positive immersion are three tools that help hugely along the way.