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Worldwide, almost everyone has experienced a vast alteration to their daily life because of COVID-19.  A drastic mental or physical change in your life can work wonders in helping you clarify your wants and needs.  If this time has you thinking that you want to make a change in your corporate life, read below for the Five Steps to Making a Work Change.

Your Difficult Work Environment Can Be a Blessing in Disguise

In my own personal experience and in coaching lots of corporate clients, the nagging need for change starts to emerge after some kind of traumatic experience.

When I say traumatic, that could look like:

  1. A toxic relationship that had dominated your work life (usually this is with your boss)
  2. A bad experience that left you feel unappreciated or marginalized
  3. A public demonstration like being passed over for a promotion that you worked hard to achieve
  4. Anything that made you repeatedly question your worth and/or happiness in your current situation

But here’s the thing, we never initiate a change when we’re happy.  The distress and unrest that you are experiencing now is exactly what you need to help initiate the change that you are craving.  Case in point- you are reading this blog so you are well on your way to creating a better work life.  The question is- what’s the right change for you?  and what to do if you hate your job.

Step One: Recognize Where You Are in the Cycle of Change

The motivation to make a change doesn’t happen overnight.  Many times, it takes time to process the traumatic experience and when you’re in the thick of it, you oftentimes need to simmer in a state of victimhood or anger until you find the strength or motivation to spring into action and create a new reality.  Here’s what the cycle of change typically looks like:

Traumatic Experience->

Emotional Response (usually anger or retreat, fight or flight) ->

Desire for a Better Future ->

Motivation to Make a Change ->

Identify the Right Change ->

Action (Create the Change)

First, create the awareness about where are in this cycle and, if you’re early in the pain, take comfort in knowing that you need to go through this painful step to get you to a better place in the future.

Step Two: Ask Yourself The Right Question

Now that you know where you are in the cycle of change, ask yourself:

What do I need to move to the next step in this cycle? 

This answer is different for everyone and you are the expert and the BEST PERSON to answer this question.  That may be surprising for you to hear.  Oftentimes, when we have a challenge that we can’t solve, we reach out to others for help.  This is a natural reaction and one that can be instrumental in helping us unlock the answer.  Your trusted advisors can offer you great advice about what’s worked for them but THEY ARE NOT YOU.  Listen to what others have to offer but look within yourself to find the answer that’s best for you.  (This is where a coach can really help by asking you the right questions).

The best way to answer big question like the above is to evaluate it in three areas.  As a business professional, you’re likely very familiar with the first (and in my experience, it’s your default go-to when solving a problem).  But to answer this question, you’re going to have to tap into all three:

  1. Cognitive- think through the answer
  2. Emotional- what are your emotions telling you?
  3. Intuitive- If you turn off all the “noise,” what messages do you receive?

Once you’ve successfully come up with some ideas about how to move through the cycle of change, you’re ready for step three.

Step Three: Envision an Ideal Work Environment

You’ve likely been stuck in the negative, icky sticky sand of work unhappiness for quite some time.  What if you shook things up?  Instead of sitting in the negative, look for a positive alternative to help you release some positive neurotransmitters, like dopamine (If you’re a nerd like me and like to learn how these neurotransmitters impact your daily life and how to encourage the positive ones, read here).  This powerful mental exercise can work wonders in helping you shift what’s happening in your head.

Ideas to Help You Create the Vision for Your Ideal Work Environment:

  • Create a board on Pinterest
  • Create a vision board
  • Do a Start, Stop, Continue Exercise and use it to help you think through what you want… and what you don’t want.  This is really easy exercise- just create three columns using start, stop, continue as your headers and let the brainstorming begin!
  • Start by brainstorming- “Who Do I Want To Be?”  Then, ask yourself, “What Do I Have To Do To Get There?”  This is a good way to back into your answer.

There are one hundred more ways to approach this exercise.  If you’ve done something else in the past that’s helped you solve a big question you were grappling with, return to what’s worked/what’s familiar and let the magic begin!

One important note: many people come to me for help and are inclined to make a big, drastic change to get as far away from their current state of angst as quickly and acutely as possible.

They start by daydreaming drastic changes to their corporate career- I’ll open a yoga studio, I’ll quit my job and become a travel blogger, I will start my own interior design business or open a big shop, etc.

Once we go through an exercise like the above, some confirm that a BIG change is what they need but most realize that they’re current situation is pretty close to ideal (there’s a reason you’re there in the first place, after all) but there are a few small, key changes they need to make to help them flip the mental switch from misery to happiness and fulfillment.  Some even stay at their current job but take a different mental approach to their situation that relieves the pain.  But sometimes, a big change is what’s most needed.

Be open to what comes to you and try to refrain from judging yourself during this process.

Step Four: Start Networking

Now that you have a vision about what you want changes you want to make at work, make a list of the people you can talk to to help you achieve or crystalize your vision.

This is when you start to voice your intention… and this is where the cycle of change starts to manifest.

At this stage, people usually like to start with exploring their vision to people closer to their inner circle first prior to unleashing the megaphone to their broad network.  This is a wise strategy because you may still be in “draft” mode with your vision.  Or you may need more time to let the vision marinate before you’re ready to fully claim it (the bigger the intended change, the longer this stage can take).  And saving this conversation for those influential, big hitters in your life (you know, the ones with lots of connections and very little free time) is best so you are clear on your ask and you are ready for the change they will help you drive.

A word of caution: A LOT of people get stuck in this stage.  They dream and talk and dream and talk but never make the leap.  Then they contact me YEARS later and are stuck in the same place they were years before, and have several new wrinkles to show for it!  Let me be clear:

You will likely NEVER feel 100% ready to make a change.

But you’ve heard the saying insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?  Yup, that applies here too.

Step Five: Create Opportunities That Align To Your Vision

By the time you reach this step, you will be EXCITED and MOTIVATED to put the wheels in motion and start the next chapter of your life- the one you’ve spent time envisioning and outlining that leaves you feeling more confident, satisfied, and leveraging your potential.

Actively look for ways to make your dream a reality.  

Ready to switch departments?  Share the intention with your boss and start executing on what it will take to get there.

Ready to leave your company for a new job in the same industry?  Get your resume ready/LinkedIn updated, start talking to recruiters and networking with past colleagues.

Ready to leave the industry you’ve been in altogether for a bold, new world?  Identify and enroll for the additional training you will need and build your bridge plan while you work on connecting with the right people who can help you get there.

Notice what the common denominators are in all of the above?

  1. Take Action
  2. Reach out to others for help

Let me reassure you that you CAN create the change that you are craving.  I’ve done it myself and I’ve also coached a number of people through this transition.

Let the pain you’re feeling now (or previously), serve as your motivator to heal and grow and create the change you need in your life.  As the saying goes, this too shall pass.  The question is- what can you learn from this pain to help you build a better future?

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