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The best way to save time and make progress is to use the power of synergy: do things that serve multiple purposes.

 

 

 

Chiara and her career change

 

My client, I will call her Chiara, is considering changing career and leaving the field she has been working in for many years.

She is undecided between two different professional fields. In both she has some knowledge, due to her long-term interest in the topics,  but she lacks any specific qualification or previous work experience in them. She does not know yet in which spheres she could best use her skills and her years of managerial experience. Although she would prefer not to start again from a very junior job, she is ready to participate in some training, but she does not know what kind of training to go for.

In order to progress with her decision about a new professional direction, Chiara needs to learn more about jobs she could aim at, the good training courses available, and the reality of working in such fields. Those are her short-term goals.

Chiara has a lot of ideas for achieving each of these goals, but very little time to act on them. She is still employed full-time and her job keeps her very busy.

What can she do to progress with her career change despite having so little time?

Firstly, she could prioritize between her goals and choose what seems most important and urgent and do that first, in order to keep moving on, even if in smaller steps.

The second option is to keep all three goals and do something that serves all of them at once. In the picture below, this option is coloured violet (see bottom right).

 

 

Chiara has decided to go for the second option: keeping all three goals and using synergy. She wants to do something that can help her learn more about all the three things at once. She has decided to identify and contact one person per week who works in one of the two fields and ask them for a short face-to-face or Skype talk. Those who agree, Chiara will ask about what it is like to work in the field, in which roles her skills could be useful, which education or training would be most useful, and any further advice they might have for someone like her.

 

 

You and synergy

 

You can use the same synergy principle, no matter which phase of a career change you are in: whether it is an idea that has just popped up or you are already making your way towards a job in a new field.

What are the three things that would help you progress on your career change journey? List them as your short-term goals, in the same way that we listed Chiara´s.

 

For your inspiration, short-term goals towards a career change could include:

  • gaining particular information that you still lack
  • making a particular decision
  • addressing a fear or a doubt that is holding you back
  • verifying an assumption before you base your decision on it
  • building contacts
  • identifying your options
  • developing a skill or knowledge
  • learning about the world of the new profession: the trends, opportunities, what is going on
  • gaining practical experience with something

etc.

 

Write your own list of three short-term goals that would mean progress to you.

Now draw three overlapping circles. Each will represent one of the goals. Write the names of the goals into the circles.

Focus your attention on the overlap space in the middle. Think of an idea, or several ideas, for very specific things you could do that would serve all the three goals at once. It can be minor things that are not too time- consuming. The important thing is that they can help you move on.

What could you do in order to progress with all three goals?

Give it a maximum of 10 minutes. If you have several ideas, write down all of them. Afterwards, you can choose one or two further things you will do this week. Plan specifically when and how you are going to do them, then tell someone about it in order to make yourself accountable.

If you do not get ideas within the 10 minutes, leave it for a while – go and do something else. We tend to get the best ideas when we stop seeking them – they might just pop up while you are paying attention to something else! You can come back to it later on.

Another option is to show your drawing and questions to someone you trust and ask them to help you come up with some ideas. Then choose between them and plan your action.

 

I have experience with my clients showing that even the tiniest step or making the tiniest amount of progress is much more motivating than waiting till you have enough time for a big step and so feeling stuck.

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