Stop Worrying About How
Do you want to change careers but are feeling stuck over how to make it happen? Try asking yourself a different question first.
FORGET ABOUT “HOW” AND FOCUS ON “WHY”
A new client reached out to me because she couldn’t take it anymore.
Carol had been working in the same career for 20 years and was feeling stressed out, unfulfilled and unmotivated. She’d never really been happy with her career choice, but the last 5 years were especially difficult. She knew she wanted to find a career that felt more meaningful, but she had no idea what she wanted to do – and every time she thought of making a change, she felt overwhelmed wondering how to make it happen.
She had glimpses of what she wanted to do. New ideas bubbled up every month. There were even times when she thought she’d figured it out and would be excited for a few weeks. She’d start dreaming about her new role and how much better it would be.
SOMETHING ALWAYS STOPPED HER
Until she started thinking about how to make it happen.
HOW to convince an employer that her skills and experience were relevant.
HOW to know that she was making the right choice.
HOW to convince her friends/family that she wasn’t making a mistake by leaving behind what appeared to be a good career for something completely different.
HOW to make enough money in a new career.
HOW to re-writer her resume so that an employer would even consider her.
HOW to even begin the process.
STUCK IN A HOLDING PATTERN
The more she thought about “how” to make it happen, the more overwhelmed she felt. The process of getting from where she was to where she wanted to be seemed almost impossible. She began to doubt herself and her new career idea. “Is this really what I want to do?” The idea she was once so excited about seemed unattainable, and because of that, it became less interesting.
So she’d toss it aside and start over again, daydreaming about other careers and browsing through job postings until she thought of something else.
With every new idea, she’d feel excited and energized by it, thinking it would be a perfect fit for her. Sometimes that feeling lasted for a few days, sometimes for several weeks or more.
But it always ended the same way – wondering “how” to make it happen.
And once she started wondering “how”, the cycle started again. The doubts and fears came back, she’d lose interest in the idea, toss it aside and start over again.
It happened again, and again and again.
She was stuck in a loop. And she was miserable.
IT’S NOT ABOUT THE “HOW”
Carol wasn’t that all that different from the other clients I’ve helped (or myself, for that matter, when I was stuck trying to figure out my career.)
She had some great ideas about careers she could pivot to. There were even a few that returned to her thoughts again and again over the years. But although she didn’t realize it, she never gave herself time to fully evaluate them because the “how” of making it happen kept getting in the way. Making it seem overwhelming and unattainable.
Her question was a completely legitimate one – how to pivot to a new role and convince an employer to hire her.
But like many people in this situation, she was focusing on the wrong problem first.
This wasn’t the first question she should have been asking. It wasn’t even the second.
She was letting the “HOW” get in the way.
WHAT TO ASK YOURSELF INSTEAD
There is a better way to find your ideal career.
It doesn’t begin with thinking about “how” to make it happen. Or even “what” you want to do.
It all begins with “why”.
That’s how it worked for my client “Tim”.
Tim immigrated from India to the U.S. many years ago. At the time he decided to move, he had no idea how he was going to make it happen. He didn’t have the resources, he didn’t have a job waiting for him, and he didn’t even know what type of job he wanted to pursue. What he did have was a vision of creating a business that would employ hundreds of people in India and vastly improve their lives. He’d seen how difficult it was for people who lost their jobs – and helping to fix that problem became his why.
Tim’s friends and family all tried to talk him out of it. To them, the how of making it happen seemed overwhelming. How would he know what kind of job to get? How would he get the skills he needed? How would he find a job? How would he find the money to move? And what if he failed?
But Tim had a powerful “why”, he wanted to ease the suffering he’d seen in his own family and in his community when people struggled to find work – so he figured it out. It took him two years to acquire the skills he needed and to find a job in the U.S., but today, 20 years later, he has a thriving multi-million-dollar software business that employs people in the U.S. and India. If he’d focused on “how” initially, as all his family and friends did, he never would have made the move. His life, that of his children’s, and that of all the people he now employs in India would have been vastly different.
A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Knowing your “why” makes it easier to make a career change.
Some people have “whys” that drive them to make major life changes and move to another country, as it did for my client Tim. Others have “whys” that are equally transformative yet require only minor changes, as in the case of the restaurant manager who discovered that her “why” was to bring joy to the lives of people she met every day. She found a new position with her current employer, reframed her perspective and found ways to actively bring joy to everyone she interacted with, both on the job and off.
If you’re contemplating a career change, you’ve probably already spent a lot of time thinking about “what” you want to do and “how” to make it happen. They’re both perfectly legitimate questions, but if you don’t know the answers, they’ll leave you feeling stuck and uncertain.
If that’s the case for you, forget about “what” you want to do, for now.
Also forget about “how” you’ll make it happen. That will come later.
You want to begin, as Simon Sinek says, with “why”.
Do you need help figuring out your “why”? Meditation and journaling are two great tools that may give you some insights.
The following questions may also help:
- What problem would you most like to solve, or see solved in the world?
- What activities bring you the most passion?
- When have you felt the most fulfilled?
THE “WHAT” AND THE “HOW”
Once you’ve figured out your why, you can then turn your focus to identifying “what” you want to do, whether it’s changing careers or launching a business. Many people that I’ve worked with find it much easier to identify several good options once they’ve figured out their “why”.
The trick here is to not dwell on thoughts of “how” before you’ve identified “what” you want to do. Thinking about “how” too early in the process shuts down your creative process and instead stirs up all kinds of self-sabotaging fears and doubts. It’s natural for the thoughts of “how” to pop up – I see it in my clients all the time – but if they do, set them aside for now. They’ll be plenty of time to think about them once you’ve identified some options.
The last step, after you’ve figured out your “why” and your “what”, is “how” to make the move from where you are to where you want to be. And although there may be some challenges along the way, you’ll find that regardless of whether you change careers, remain with your current organization, or launch a business, knowing your “why” helps give you the motivation and confidence to make it happen.
Do you want to make a career change and need help figuring out your “why”, “what” or “how”? Schedule a free, no-obligation Discovery Call here, and we’ll chat about how you can make it happen.