Does talking about your career plans cause you to wobble?
Updated: May 15
Three things to consider when sharing your your next steps
Been to any good parties recently?
We've recently had a couple of cracking invites to 50th birthdays.
(I blame my husband, he's got a few years on me).
But I know that parties and dinners and social situations can be wobble-inducing for career redesigners.
Take my lovely, brilliant client Anna.
Anna is a warm, extremely smart, poised, self-aware lawyer.
Who's not totally sure she wants to be a lawyer anymore.
We've been working together to dive into her other options and ideas. As part of that process, she's decided to take a short career break to spend some time with her young family and explore some new avenues.
It's a move that's been hugely exciting and liberating for Anna but also, at times, bloody scary.
Because how does she EXPLAIN it?
What does she tell people she's DOING?
What's her PLAN?
Getting her messaging right has been massively important for Anna's confidence.
I'm not surprised. We often spend a lot of time fretting about what our squiggly career journey looks like to other people.
Another career shifter recently said this to me:
"We live in a world where a great deal of our validation and self-worth comes from the work that we do. If you can't give a name to what you want to do, you're immediately a slightly alien presence in a room. And that’s a difficult space to occupy."
So today I'm sharing THREE things to consider when you're talking about your career move ... so you don't feel like you're under a horribly hot and uncomfortable spotlight.
1. Be ready for people to give unsolicited opinions!
When Dave moved from the travel industry into software programming, he wasn't quite prepared for the response.
"I remember my old boss who's actually a really good friend of mine, but, bless her, she took me out for lunch on my last day and she pretty much said 'Well, I’ll see you in a year. I know you'll be back and the door’s always open. I don't mean this in a bad way, but I don’t think this is the right move for you and I suspect you’ll be back.' "
In fact, it was a happy and successful career shift. But if Dave had listened too closely to well-meaning friends he might never have moved.
2. Position yourself as an explorer rather than feeling you have to share a perfectly mapped out plan
Freddie, who moved from acting in to nursing, offers this advice.
"Your story is yours to tell and only tell as much of it as you want to. And if you're not ready to tell it, don't tell it. You can say 'Well actually, I'm looking at new options now. And I'm in the middle of having a rethink' and I think maybe that kind of language is easier for people to understand."
In the early stages, not feeling you have to give the whole world a blow-by-blow account of your ever-evolving career plan can keep your confidence from wobbling.
You're having fun exploring.
Don't feel pressured by other people for a perfect plan before you're ready.
3. But remember sharing can lead to help
That said, if you share your emerging ideas with people you feel comfortable with, they can be a great source of information and connections.
Anna says that now she's worked out what she wants to say about her career investigation, she's finding other people are surprisingly keen to help.
"When I mention some of my ideas in a relaxed way, I've found people will say, 'Oh, I know someone who works in that field, I could put you in touch if you like' or 'Have you thought about such-and-such an organisation?' "
Thinking about these recent conversations, two things are super clear:
Getting comfortable talking about your career move in a way that suits you personally is really important. What message do you want to give about your current situation?
Other people can be both a hindrance and a help. Have you worked out who will be your cheerleaders and who risks derailing you on this journey? When are you happy to share and when would you rather keep your plans to yourself?