I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that insanity is defined as “doing the same things and expecting different results.” It’s a common saying because we all know it to be true: if you keep repeating the same actions, you will get the same outcomes.
It can be very difficult for people to change the way they do something, even when their approach isn’t working. This is one of the reasons why career transitions and job searches can stall out. In your career transition journey, as in life, to get the results you’re after, it is necessary to make changes.
Check your awareness and willingness to change.
Let’s say you’re not doing well in your transition. You believe you’re doing things right and following what you believe to be good advice, but you’re just not getting the results you want. Are you aware that your process, or perhaps your behavior or overall attitude, isn’t working? Once you’re able to see that your efforts aren’t sufficient, you must be willing to do the hard work of making a change.
Gather more info.
Once people acknowledge, “I’ve got to do better,” they often realize they don’t know what they don’t know. You can learn this process in books and resources, but do you really have the time to invest in that research? It could take months and years to gain the skills you would need to be at the top of your game. There’s a ton of material on career-related topics, but for many people I’ve worked with during their transition, the tidal wave of research doesn’t seem to be absorbed and translated into meaningful, helpful action.
More than weeks upon weeks of research, you need real-life feedback from people you actually know and trust if you have a career transition system that doesn’t work. Let people give insight into what outside-the-box opportunities could be a fit for you and what unique skills you bring to the table. Accept with humility any perspectives on blind spots and areas for growth. Listen as they share their own experiences of what did and didn’t work in their careers. Get feedback from people of different backgrounds and experience levels to get diverse opinions. Then, look for common themes across the feedback you receive.
Another helpful source of feedback is from organizations that turn you down for an opportunity. How and when you ask for this info will require some discernment, but this is an excellent source of honest feedback that you can use to shape your transition process.
Too many people searching for the next step in their career think that they can do this on their own by just reading a few books. But people around you have history and experiences that can help you determine what changes you need to make to your process, attitude, and behavior. Gather feedback, and allow it to guide your decisions.
Narrow your focus.
You can only make a couple of changes at a time. If you see multiple themes emerging from your feedback and try to act on all of them, that could dilute your efforts. Focus on fewer areas for improvement—three at the most. Choose the ones that will have the most impact, or the ones that seem most achievable.
Then, choose your tactics. How will you bring this info into your behavior, attitude, or process? Spend your energies on the things you have more control over, and follow through.
Make a commitment.
Now that you have a plan, you have to have the passion and commitment to make those changes. That’s the only way to be successful. You aren’t going to last if you’re not committed. The first obstacle will break you.
Then you have to practice—actually act on your planned changes. It may feel a little on the phony side, but the only way to go from phony to integrated and genuine is to do it!
Measure your progress.
You cannot know whether your new approach is moving the needle if you don’t measure your progress. Are you observing positive changes? How do you know? However, you’ve got to give it enough time. You can’t make changes and a week later decide it didn’t work and move on. Give it a fair shot before you determine if there’s a return on your investment.
You should always be evaluating your process. If you determine an element of your behavior, attitude, or process isn’t working for you after a reasonable amount of time, then the whole process starts again. It’s hard work, but it will pave the way for success on your career transition journey.