Changing careers can be challenging, with both internal and external pressures adding to the stress. In order to push through the barriers most face when making a big career move - you need to build mental fortitude.
This is where performance psychology can really help. By paying attention to what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you give yourself the best possible chance of success.
To help you work through a successful career change we asked Michael Inglis, Director and Lead Sport Psychologist at The Mind Room, to share five performance psychology tactics you can implement when making a career change.
- “Know your ‘why’ for the next career.”
We often tend to focus on the negative reasons why we want to leave our current careers – for example low salaries, lack of opportunities or a loss of passion for the industry. But Inglis says it pays to be positive and look to what you want rather than what you don’t want.
“As opposed to escaping the reasons on your previous career, understand what drives the desire for this new career,” he explains. “Is it personally more fulfilling, financially more rewarding or providing better work-life balance? Appreciate what personal values the new career represents and why these values are so important to you. Fulfilling personal values links to overall happiness and wellbeing.”
- “Be clear on the change you want and commit to it for a set period before reviewing.
“Good things take time, and big life changes like switching careers are no different. Allow yourself enough time to make this change, while also setting some parameters to ensure you actually do it. It’s about finding balance and staying on track.
“So that you’re not vulnerable and reactive to setbacks and disappointments, provide a timeline to making this career change. Commit to this timeframe so you give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.”
- “Accept that setbacks and self-doubt will be part of the journey.”
A career change may take longer than you think, and there may also be other challenges such as blows to your confidence to contend with. So go easy on yourself!
“Doubting your abilities or the choice to change careers is to be expected and a natural part of significant change,” Inglis explains. “Hence, committing to an extended time frame is useful. Setbacks are probable in this time, so the ability to be able to be resilient and accept that this is part of the journey is crucial.”
- “Control the controllables.”
If you’re in the vulnerable position of trying to get a new job, you can easily spend a lot of time wondering why you didn’t get a call back about an opportunity, or thinking about how tough the job market is. It’s helpful to remember that you can’t control everything in your quest for your new career, so you may as well embrace it.
“Put your energy into what you can influence and be less distracted by things that are out of your control,” Inglis advises. “Focus on you, the adjustments you can make, the effort you put into creating new networks. Be less concerned about why people are selected over you and how unfair the working landscape might be. Narrow in on your efforts and this will increase concentration and regulate helpful self-talk.”
- “Be open and curious to feedback.”
It can be hard to open yourself up to constructive criticism, but if you do you can reap huge benefits and make yourself a formidable candidate. “Viewing feedback as a gift from another opens us up to self-improvement,” Inglis says.
“Although it can be difficult to hear at times, the person providing this feedback is investing time in you to improve for future opportunities. This assists a more robust attitude when approaching career change and regulates a growth mindset.”
A little mindfulness, positivity and patience with yourself will do wonders for making your career change a successful one.