Tips for Changing Career Paths

career change

By Tamira Madsen

Sarah Young is founder of Zing Collaborative, which she founded in 2013 to work on leadership and people development within organizations. Young is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach with accreditation through the Co-Active Training Institute, an organization which trains people how to become professional coaches. She’s also a professional certified coach through the International Coach Federation. We asked Young about how to think about changing lanes in your own career.

Q: What factors do people need to carefully consider when looking to change career paths?

A: I like to work with people to uncover: What is it they’re running toward? If we’re just running away from something, we often end up repeating the same pattern that has happened before. Getting clear on what we’re running toward, and making sure we’re running toward the right thing, is something I feel is really important.

Another thing I work to explore with my clients is: Have they done everything to optimize their current state? We might think we need to make a sweeping change and switch careers altogether, and sometimes that might be the answer. But sometimes there are things we can actually do within our current context to optimize our current role or align it with our strengths, and how we can have the greatest impact. That might mean switching roles within our organization. It might mean scoping our job a little bit to align with the impact we want to have.

Q: Do you find that the desire to make a change has more to do with financial impact, or day-to-day stress level of work?

A: Neither. Overwhelmingly for the clients I work with, neither of [those factors] are a primary driver. [They identify] wanting to be challenged and grow, and wanting to align the work they do with how they feel they can make the greatest impact.

I describe this as an inner whisper. It’s an inner whisper that [says] “there is something else that I am meant to do or that I hope to do. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I don’t think it’s what I’m doing right now. I would like to explore what that might be.”

Q: If a person decides to make a switch in their career, how would you recommend they go about doing that?

A: When considering a career change or pivot, before asking “What kind of job might I want to do next?” I recommend taking a moment to reflect on the questions of: “How do I want my work to fit into the greater context of my life?” “What do I want my overall life design to look like?” And, “What is my vision for my life in this upcoming chapter—and in this particular season of life?”

This can help us to get clear on what matters most in our life overall, and then how our work might fit into this broader picture in the upcoming chapter. [This can] help us to expand our vision of what’s possible.

And then moving forward in a way that’s very focused and selective, because what I find is if you just go out and open up the floodgates, there’s a lot out there on the job boards and there’s a lot that can feel overwhelming. It’s important to step back and get clear on what we’re aiming toward [to do in our next job] to put us in the driver seat, versus being at the mercy of what’s on the job boards, or what we find online.

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