Packing for travel is a pain in the proverbial. It does not matter what system I use I always end up with too much, not the right shoes, a bag that will not close, and yet never quite enough underwear. Packing is an attempt to bring your research and knowledge together, making an assessment of your resources, and working out the gaps. But it is done before you start travelling so can only be a best guess.
The same is true for planning a career shift or change in direction at work. You can collect all the information and believe you have the right resources, only to be faced by an unexpected situation or opportunity. Unfortunately we cannot predict perfectly how anything will work out, but you can make a ‘best guess’ and get prepared.
Do your research – We don’t live in the information age for nothing. Research and read as much as feels right about your planned destination, be it a new career, place of work, or a new business opportunity or strategy. Chances are someone has been there before and you can learn from their experience.
Talk to experts – People love to give advice, help out and even mentor you through change. There is growing evidence that we are hard-wired for altruism (check out this great animation based on Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization). So ask for support and information along the way. However remember the laws of exchange, and be prepared to give something in return (pay for the coffee, write a thank you note, pass on a contact etc). This is especially true if you are asking some for some information or service which is how they make their living. Sometimes having the best guide you can is worth your investment in time and money.
Trust your intuition – Give yourself plenty of time to be still. Observe your physical and emotional reaction to the choices laid out in front of you. Does any have a charge or pull greater than all others? Does anything feel like it is there to please others or an old part of yourself? Do none of them excite you in anyway? Does something frighten yet intrigue you? Sit with your choices again and see if it is the same or different reactions. Be gentle, kind and patient with yourself. If it feels hard, walk away until you can bring a fresh mind, curiosity and interest. Remember you don’t have to DO anything here. Just play with what pops.
Be realistic – There is no point taking stilettos on a hiking trip or a surfboard to Paris. You know what your suitcase can hold and what your real world responsibilities are. It may not be the best time to implement a strategy requiring lots of investment if resources are not available. You may not have the inner resources to take on study and full-time work if you are also primary carer for children or parent. Being unrealistic may end in injury or tears. Take a few hours or days if you can to check in if the timing is right for this change.
Be courageous – That said if you know you are just putting excuses up to stop you doing something you really really want, then see what you can do to make it happen with what you have got. Maybe you could work part-time while you study. Maybe you could do one unit not two. Maybe we could implement a small scale test of your policy or strategy. Maybe there are other investors or clients that would pay more for the service. Be creative and stay open to opportunity.
You may not have the best of everything to make the change you want to in your life, but should that stop you from making a start?
Absolutely not. At any point you can start planning, begin researching and keep dreaming.
The risk is not to get stuck in any of these stages and never do what you truly believe you are on this planet to do. Nothing will change without some action from you. So next week we will look at that moment you know the time has come.
"Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps."
David Lloyd George