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How To Put In 100% Effort At Work When Making A Career Change

How To Put In 100% Effort At Work When Making A Career Change

I was working with a client recently and she asked, “What is 100% effort?” 

She was looking to drastically change her career, but just because she’d made that decision didn't mean she immediately stopped caring about her current company, company mission or her professional reputation.

I grappled with this when I left my job and life as a financial services event professional at the end of 2011. I'd been with the company for nearly six years and essentially "grew up" there. I worked hard, earned some great opportunities and learned a lot. Just because I decided that wasn’t the life for me didn’t mean I stopped caring overnight. Given my central role in the company and division, I couldn't leave anyone high and dry.

[Related: You Don't Need A Career Change, You Just Need To Pivot]

What my client said  to me put me back in those shoes: caring for many reasons but wanting to move on. How do you get to a pace that allows you to straddle your current responsibilities while moving on to a better opportunity?

Everyone’s blueprint to work through this will differ, but the point is that this idea of, "What is 100% and where do I stop?” should be approached in a way that supports both your long terms goals (moving on) and short term goals (doing well for your team). 

Coming up with a plan – and writing it down - will be key. A lot of times we just think about ideas vaguely or don’t put intention behind them. Then we walk into the office and get railroaded by requests, leaving us drained and unable to focus on our next move or next phase once the workday ends.

Here are some approaches, a combination of ideas I used in my transition and things my clients have used in theirs:

1. Boundaries And Mindset: This is huge, and is absolutely the place where everyone must start when considering a plan like this. Questions like:

• When does my workday begin and end?

• What will I do if there’s yet another fire drill "demanding" I stay longer or log in at night?

• Which meetings are absolutely necessary and which am I invited to but have no real impact? 

• How will I communicate I will not attend in those ‘unnecessary meetings’ situations?

• If I work in an environment where everything is urgent, how will I prioritize and most importantly, communicate to the person bringing the urgency my plan for addressing the urgency? (Delegate, give a time when you’ll get back to them, etc)

• Can I work from home or remotely one day per week to cut out commute time?

• If I feel overwhelmed by requests or uncertainty, what practice will I put in place to right myself? (Go for a walk, use a meditation app, get out of the office, go to the nearby coffee shop?)

• What is my intention for the beginning of the day? Can I write that down in a notebook and review it each day?

• How can I set myself up for success for the next work day? (Physical space cleaned up, to-do list set, etc?)

[Related: Dramatic Career Change, Minus the Drama]

2. Priorities. List the various projects you’re on or the various things you’re responsible for. Keep it broad.

Now pick the top three and put a proverbial stake in the ground. For example, “I’m going to spend 90% of my time and energy on the top three priorities.” Then, you have some time left over for the rest of the lesser important things. 

If you have a manager who is constantly moving the needle, try top talk to them about it. Don’t make it about you and your time, but instead think about it in terms of the impact you’ll have if you’re able to focus on x, y and z rather than a,b,c,d,z,y,x. Put it in terms of the business and come with solutions for how the less important tasks will be handled.

3. Track It. Just because you’d spend 90% of your time on those TPS reports doesn’t mean they magically happens You have to work toward it. If you don’t have a stopwatch, use something like Toggl that will help you track your time.

4. Weekly (or Bi-weekly) Check Ins. Look at your tracking reports and see how you’ve done getting the top priorities handled. Did it work? What needs to be recalibrated? How did you feel doing it this way?

5. Openness. This one depends on your work environment. The client I mentioned at the beginning has a very open environment where they encourage open dialogue about moving on and finding new opportunities- and they mean it. If this sounds like your company, you can always approach your manager and give ‘em the skinny. Then come up with an exit plan or a racheting down plan that works for you AND them.

Whatever you take from these, know that having any plan at all is the key point . When you go into the workday or work week willy nilly, you can tend be eaten up by the tidal wave. Having the right mindset and setting boundaries and checking in on your plan can go a long way to keeping you sane while you straddle the two worlds of keeping up with your current work while finding work that feeds your soul long term


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Community Discussion
Tanjina Shapiro, MS, MBA

Great and timely article Jill, thank you! Glad to see I am doing most of these things. One tactic I found helpful is to block 'productive time' 3x a week on my calendar in the mornings before the meeting madness starts; and plan what I'm going to do with that time the night before.

June 19, 2018