Many with whom I work are contemplating new positions in their current organizations, exiting from existing companies to other related fields, and even going out on their own to try their hand in an entrepreneurial stint. The reasons for their changes are vast: dissatisfaction with their current organizational culture, their industry is entering a mature/dying stage of development, or simply their desire to contribute in a way that is more meaningful to them and which fully optimizes their skills and talents. Regardless of the reason why they are embarking upon change, this question invariably comes up:
“Now, what do I really want to do?!”
Just as the question and rationale for change differs for each individual, the answer does, too. A few simple suggestions to help ready yourself as you enter into the virtually unknown:
1. Find and leverage the right support system. We really do nothing alone. We need mentors, lawyers, board members, colleagues, and even executive/leadership coaches to help navigate the road to change. Often we don’t see what we need to see. We need to ask the hard questions – often the questions for which we don’t want to hear the answers. Ask them anyway. Perspectives from objective sources bring fresh solutions and ideas.
2. Evaluate your current position. What I mean by this is your financial position, your competitive position, and your current intentions for the change you are pursuing. How are you relative to your cash reserves? Do you have money to support you and your lifestyle while you pursue this new venture? How do your skills stack up against others in your field? What makes you different? What makes who you are and what you do relevant to others? What do you really want to do in this new role? What is your overall intention and objective for the change in the first place? What was/is missing in your current position and life? Don’t lose sight of any of these factors and answers. It can be easy to become intoxicated with “visions of grandeur.” Stay grounded and realistic about your currency in the market AND how you want to “spend it.”
3. Finally, remember nothing is permanent. We can make changes, mistakes, and missteps as we travel our career roads. We may choose one path, and realize fairly quickly it was not what we had thought it would be. That happens! Yet, we learn through each experience which ultimately makes us the leaders we are. So, be ruthlessly honest with yourself. Allow your vulnerabilities to show and be transparent with your support system. Be honest about what you are good at doing AND what the most challenging aspects are of your profession. Stretch, grow and remember the only compass you need to follow is your authenticity and how you want to contribute in this world.