Meet Emma – She is in her mid-40s. She has been working in the corporate world for more than fifteen years. In order to spend more time with her teenage children, she decided to work as freelancer. It was definitely a big decision but it is something that she has been thinking for some time. She always wanted to be “her own boss”. Emma felt that the time to make her dream a reality has come. “If it doesn’t happen now, it will never will” she thought.
Three months have passed since she set up her own company and she hasn’t manage to land a project. Although she is a very competent project manager, she finds it difficult to promote her services. She has started questioning her decision to leave a comfortable and well-paid career. Self-doubt is creeping in.
If you are going through a similar situation, it is important that you stay positive and put things into perspective.
By letting the set-backs you face during the transition to affect your confidence, you actually do nothing that helps the situation improve. On the contrary, you may miss significant opportunities; people want to work with people who are competent and have a positive attitude.
Here are some techniques to consider that may help you to stay optimistic:
- Celebrate small successes. Make sure you appreciate the progress you are making. “Rome was not built in a day.” Be persistent in driving towards your goals but also accept that it might take longer that your originally thought. Cherish the small early wins to build your momentum.
- Keep fit. Eat healthy food, sleep well and do a sport. Being physically fit is paramount to your emotional well-being.
- Get involved in activities where you can see improvement. Run, swim, learn a language. When you see progress, you will feel a sense of achievement and it will be a big confidence booster.
- Put a stop to the spiral. Avoid generalizations like ‘I am not good enough’ or ‘I don’t deserve it’. Stop bad thoughts as early as possible. Make a realistic assessment of the situation, identify what doesn’t go well and fix it. Don’t allow yourself to go to an emotional roller coaster. Your confidence is the most important asset you have.
- Meditate. This technique might NOT work for everybody. Professional sport people use it all the time. They use breathing techniques to relax and visualize themselves achieving the goals they have set.
- Allow the occasional outburst. There is no doubt that you will need a shoulder to cry at some point. Most of us do. Gather your pieces the following day and continue working towards your goals.
- Talk to people who have done a similar transition. You will quickly realize that everybody’s journey was bumpy. Success didn’t come easy to anybody even if it looks like this from the outside. The thought that you are not the only one who faces challenges might be a comforting one (at least for some time).
- Get a hobby. Do something that you always wanted to do but your never had time. Associate your transition with positive experiences. Find a way to decompress from the everyday pressures.
The bottom line: Making a career change can be stressful. Expectations are high. The reality though is that you will probably face some ups and downs along the way. Also, it usually takes longer than you think. Staying positive is critical.
Korina Karampela is the founder of b4iapply, author of 2 books, consultant and speaker. She has worked in senior positions in the pharmaceutical industry for 12 years and has an MBA from MIT Sloan. Her b4iapply blog is recommended by The Guardian for professional development.