Are you wondering what your next role will look like? Do you flip between just wanting a bit more of the same but with a more supportive boss, to jacking it all in and moving to Cornwall to set up a B&B?

You’d not be alone, and if the lure of the surf is getting so much you can practically hear the waves crashing on the beach, but it all feels a bit too scary, let me bust some myths for you about what it is to change career in the 21st century! 

But let’s dial back a bit to when we were growing up. What lessons did we learn about careers and what was possible? Do they still hold true now?

My dad worked in the same job in the same university for over 30 years. He was the music librarian at Sheffield University, in the days where music librarians lent you vinyl and a pair of headphones, rather than send you a Spotify link. He’s the best person to have around in a pub quiz classical music round and he loved his job so much he’s basically carried on doing it in different guises in retirement. He had no need or desire to think about changing careers. 

But my mum was a bit radical. In the 1980s she changed careers from being a languages teacher to an export manager in manufacturing. She exchanged kids throwing board rubbers at her to travelling Europe talking to clients in French, German and Italian about boxes to keep drill bits in and Gripples, to hold bits of wire together with. 

She received criticism from some quarters for doing a full time job that took her away from the kids (for very short periods of time and we didn’t mind – she brought back presents from the airport!) It wasn’t easy to access re-training in the 1980s, and she was often told by recruitment consultants that she was overqualified for the roles they had on offer. 

But thank goodness she role-modelled getting out of a career that was making her unhappy! When I felt miserable in my early 30s, I knew changing direction might be daunting, but I also knew it was possible. So I did it – I moved from roles managing teams of events fundraisers to being a Learning & Development officer (then manager and coach). Much of what I’d learnt was really relevant for my new role. I worried I was taking a step backwards and that no one would take me seriously as ‘just an officer’. But they did, because who I was, my experience, my presence in meetings, my networks and my transferable skills came with me, and I loved it! 

Things are different from the 1980s now, thank goodness! Most of us won’t have a career for life, but we also don’t necessarily have a road map for what career transition can look like, so we are forging a new path. 

So before you get going here are some myths about career transition I want to bust for you: 

  1. Everything you’ve done before is meaningless if you change your career. Incorrect: Your previous experience comes with you. It’s relevant. Much of it is transferable, even though it may not seem obvious at first. 
  2. It’s new and radical to change career: Incorrect, we are no longer in the 1980s, changing career is normal. In twenty years time, careers will exist we haven’t even thought of yet. Still think you’ll be doing the same as you’re doing now? 
  3. Career transition will be TOO MUCH of a change. Incorrect: Career transition doesn’t need to mean wholesale change. It might be about doing something similar to what you’re doing now, but in an organisation that suits you better. It might be using your existing skills e.g. fundraising, but in a different context e.g. a move from a health charity to a university. 

If you’d like a short self-study course to help you work out where you will thrive, check out The Career Compass. I’ve pulled into it my ten years of career coaching experience – all the most powerful exercise which I know work. Over 4 weeks in super bite size video modules, you’ll be guided to explore your values, strengths, passions and even what’s holding you back, and I know it’s going to help you work out where you’ll thrive. 

I can’t wait to hear your career transition stories? What have you done before? What would you love to do in the future? 

Let me know in the comments!