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Making Mindful Career Moves

Making Mindful Career Moves

Be honest: Were you one of those people who said 2021 was the year for your career move? How is that going?

I made one of my biggest career moves in 2020 and once I was on the "other side" where the grass was supposed to be greener - it hit me like a ton of bricks that I could have been much more strategic about my move.

I was in my mid-twenties and in all honesty, my biggest motivation for the transition was "getting out" rather than "moving in." I was doing a lot more running from what I no longer wanted, and less running toward what I deeply desired from a career.

Think about a career transition as flying trapeze. In essence, you’re engaged in two primary actions - letting go and grabbing hold.

Letting go has to do with managing the relationships of the workplace, career, or position you once held. Here, you process all of the emotional requirements associated with detaching from what was once a very large part of your identity.

Truth is, we feel much safer and ready to let go when we have a level of certainty about what awaits us on the other side.

Grabbing hold, then, is the process of acclimatizing and putting our feelers into the new environment so that we can hit the ground running and contribute effectively as we establish ourselves in our new career.

Oftentimes, we dedicate a huge chunk of our focus to just one of the two and the other finds itself neglected or less tended to.

According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics (2019), the average professional occupies around twelve different careers in their lifetime. This data indicates that we spend a lot more time "transitioning" between phases or careers than we realize.

Either way, I’d love to know how those career transitions are going for you. Which ones am I referring to, you ask? Here are a few examples:

  • Changing functions, roles, or teams.
  • Taking on a position of leadership.
  • Moving/changing organizations.
  • Starting a side hustle.
  • Leaving full-time employment to run your own business.
  • Retirement or planning for retirement.

Quite often, these exciting career transitions come with immense uncertainty and we somehow find ourselves looking back at what once was, or we become too paralyzed with fear that we neglect to make the move at all.

Trust me, as someone who has been there – I know the feeling.

So, to help you confidently make your career move regardless of that gnawing pang of uncertainty, I’d love to help you understand what I’ve found to be the three stages of any career journey, and what the two key questions to ask at each stage are.

1) Career endings.

Is this you?

  • You feel you are no longer growing, or you feel as if you are contacting (shrinking, moving backwards).
  • You feel stuck, or as if you’re going in circles.
  • You have a deep desire for something "more."

Questions to ask:

  • Are there opportunities for growth that I’m not aware of in my current career?
  • What emotions am I experiencing and how might I best manage them?

[Related: Don’t Wait for Your Company to Help With Work-Life Balance]

2) New beginnings.

Is this you?

  • You’re the "baby" on the team – colleagues are keenly offering you voluntary support to the point of overwhelm.
  • You’re learning something new at every turn and would still say you are finding your feet.
  • You crave a predictable routine and some form of stability.

Questions to ask:

  • How will I measure my progress or success in this new opportunity?
  • Who can I connect with in this new environment to support me (mentor, sponsor, or coach)?

[Related: Four Simple Steps to a More Sustainable Professional Life]

3) Settled and kicking butt.

Is this you?

  • Newcomers in the team turn to you for guidance and tips.
  • The team understands your work style and capacity.
  • You have a hidden desire for growth and being challenged that your current opportunity seems to be giving you less and less of.

Questions to ask:

  • Am I falling victim to the alluring "sage stage" (being the all-knowing "sage" in the workplace)?
  • How can I recalibrate and realign to my career development plan and my purpose?

A good place to begin a transition is always awareness, so use the above to identify where you currently are and what you may need to keep your eyes on.

If we are going to make career moves an average of ten times in our lives, it helps to be strategic about what to look out for and what questions to ask, so we can transition with confidence.

[Related: When is the Right Time to Make a Career Leap?]

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If you're navigating an organizational change/transition, just changed functions, or moved homes and want to do it right, Zanele Njapha is who many such as Vitality Global, Marsh & McLennan, Saint Gobain, and Volkswagen are speaking to.


Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.

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