Episode 172: Avoiding career change mistakes: insights and strategies for a successful transition – with Natasha Stanley of Careershifters

Lots of people have changed careers, and lots of people have made mistakes in the process. 

So what are some of the biggest mistakes people make when changing careers?  And how can you avoid the mistakes that people have made before you? 

Natasha Stanley is a career coach and has helped thousands of people overcome the challenges that arise when changing careers and finding jobs that they love. 

She explains the value of job-hopping, the power of talking to other people and how to redefine your identity and find a career that you love. 

She also talks about the common mistakes people make when changing their careers, the transferable nature of skills, and how to find people to support your career change.

Today’s guest

Natasha Stanley of Careershifters

Website: Careershifters and Natasha Stanley

Twitter: Careershifters

Facebook: Careershifters

Natasha Stanley is head career coach and experience designer for Careershifters.  Through her concepts, coaching and facilitation, she’s helped thousands of people to shift into work they love.

Natasha also trains and develops facilitators, leaders and coaches, leading the CTI-accredited Careershifters Advanced Certification programme.  She speaks on the subject of career change and finding fulfilling work and is regularly featured in the media.

After five years living and working out of a backpack in eleven countries around the world, she’s now settled in the Canary Islands, where you can find her listening to neuroscience podcasts, learning pottery and dreaming up her next adventure.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [1:47] How Natasha knew it was time to make a drastic career change. 
  • [5:40] How to know if it’s your job or your career that is causing you to feel unsatisfied. 
  • [7:26] The value of job-hopping within a career before making a career change. 
  • [9:45] When you should take a leap of faith and do something completely different. 
  • [12:30] What it looks like to dismantle the structures in your life and how to portray yourself differently. 
  • [15:55] Common mistakes people make when changing careers. 
  • [18:35] When to stop planning and start taking action. 
  • [20:50] How to learn more about yourself and what you enjoy in life. 
  • [24:42] The sunk cost fallacy that stops people from leaving careers they don’t enjoy. 
  • [27:24] How others can help you with a career change. 
  • [30:44] Who to ask for career change advice. 
  • [33:06] How to know the types of jobs you’re able to do.
  • [33:30]  Why your CV can be a list of things that you don’t want to do.
  • [37:00] The mindset you should have when making a career change. 
  • [38:46] The problem of focusing on your passion when looking for a new career. 
  • [41:27] How networking can influence your career. 

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 172: Avoiding career change mistakes: insights and strategies for a successful transition - with Natasha Stanley of Careershifters

Jeremy Cline 0:00
What are some of the biggest mistakes you can make when you're changing career? And how can you avoid those mistakes? Well, that's what we're going to talk about in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:27
Hello, and welcome to the Change Work Life podcast, the show where we're all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, you're in the right place. And if you haven't yet subscribed to the podcast, why not? It's as simple as taking your phone out and hitting plus or subscribe or follow and then you'll never miss an episode. Now, I'm a big believer in learning from my mistakes. I mean, I make enough of them. But if I can learn from someone else's mistakes and avoid the same mistakes they've made, then so much the better. When it comes to changing career, clearly, you've got to follow your own path. But that doesn't mean you can't learn from other career changes to avoid the pitfalls that can come with exploring your own career change. So, what are the mistakes to avoid when thinking about a change of career? To help us identify them, I'm delighted to be joined this week by Natasha Stanley. Natasha has helped thousands of people find and move into more fulfilling careers. She's a writer, facilitator, course designer, and head coach at Careershifters. Natasha, welcome to the podcast.

Natasha Stanley 1:36
Thank you so much, Jeremy, it's a pleasure to be here.

Jeremy Cline 1:39
Why don't you start by telling us a little bit about your own journey and what led you to help others with their own career changes?

Natasha Stanley 1:46
Yeah, sure. So, I started out my first career in the charity sector. And honestly, when I first started that initial career, I thought I'd hit the jackpot. Because this is what I had always wanted to do since I was knee high to a grasshopper. So, it was particularly challenging for me, when about six months into my first job, I was working with the homeless community in the southwest of England, I started to get this feeling that something just wasn't right. I couldn't put my finger on it any more specifically than that. It was just this feeling of sort of not this. And so, I thought, right, well, I'll put that aside and ignore it for as long as possible, because that's uncomfortable. And it just kept getting stronger and louder. And so, I started to notice it showing up in lots of different ways. I would wake up in the mornings and feel immediately exhausted at the thought of going to work. I was drained all the time, just felt like I didn't have any energy to do the things that I enjoyed outside of work. I was becoming increasingly ratty and irritable, which is not a version of me that I recognise now, but she was coming out in force. My self-esteem took a massive nosedive. I see now it was because I was doing things that were just way outside of my natural skill set, but at the time, I just started to doubt my own strengths and capacities and started to feel really bad about myself. And I spent a lot of time trying to avoid the subject of, maybe I need to make a career change, because it was just too scary to look at. So, I kept kicking the can down the road, like, oh, you know, maybe I'll wait until Christmas, or maybe I'll wait until this project is over, and it's normal to not enjoy work, and I should be grateful to have a job at all. I made a lot of excuses, like I'd invested too much in my career thus far, and throwing it away would be a waste. And crappy though it felt, it was also familiar. I had spent a long time working to get into that industry, it was everything that I knew. And so, it had a really strong gravitational pull. And before I even got to really considering making a career change, I spent several years just chasing my tail inside my head, grappling with the question of like, should I make a career change at all, can I get away with it, avoiding this or ignoring it, until it reached a point where it was just untenable. My health was on the down, I felt exhausted and sad constantly, I felt like an absolute shell of myself. And I couldn't imagine waking up a year from then and still being in the same place. So, I did something that I don't recommend most people do. I quit my job, put my house on the market and booked a one-way flight to Greece, because it turns out that's how I deal with stress. I do not recommend this to most people, but it gave me the headspace and the freedom to be able to really look at what my life looked like and what I knew I didn't want. I started to make a lot of mistakes and jumble my way through the career change process. And along the way, through jumbling through, I somehow managed to do some of the right things. And where it's landed me now is in a job and a career where I really feel like I get paid to be myself, which is pretty radical even now, 10, 11 years on. That's a little bit about where I'm coming from with all of this.

Jeremy Cline 5:21
What was it that led to the conclusion that it was the job or the career that was causing the exhaustion, the lack of self-esteem, all that sort of stuff, and not something else, I don't know what that could have been, but that this was the root cause?

Natasha Stanley 5:41
So, multiple things, I think. First of all, the strongest symptoms of the things that I was feeling happened around the times of day where work was relevant. So, at its worst, I reached the point where, you know that moment where you wake up in the morning, and you don't really know who you are or what life is, you're just sort of a steak in bed. And then, suddenly, consciousness rushes in, and you remember who you are and what you have to do that day. I would find myself regularly in the mornings, as soon as that realisation came in that I had to go to work, I'd just have tears rolling down the sides of my face, before I even got out of bed. I found myself spending all day long clock watching, wishing the days away, and then wishing the weeks away and living for the weekend, or living for the moments outside of work where I didn't have to be dealing with the stuff inside of work. And it really reached the point where I was like, I could wish out away my entire life. This is not how I want to spend my time. So, a lot of the biggest, most emotionally driven symptoms of all of this happened around literally the times of day when work was present in my life. And then, I also spent quite a lot of time job hopping. So, I didn't stick around in that first job. I thought, well, maybe it's just this organisation or this place. And so, I hopped from the homeless community to working with street-based sex workers. And then, I went from that to working in domestic violence refuges. And then, from that to international charities. And everywhere I went, the feeling just followed me. So, I feel like it took a little bit of that hopping around, and is it just the job, is it just the organisation? No, there's patterns to all of this, that means that this is just not the fit for me.

Jeremy Cline 7:25
The job hopping is something that I guess people will instinctively do. So, I'm not happy where I am, let's see what other jobs I could do. Well, in your case, charity work, in my case, it might be law. Do you think that's a necessary part of the process, that maybe people need to do that, as this sort of voyage of discovery as to whether the career is the right fit? Or is there another way of approaching it, rather than going through a few different jobs and then making that realisation?

Natasha Stanley 7:56
It's an interesting one, because on one level, I think some people do need to do it. I think some people, in order to make a career change and to really make a big move, need to be 100% certain that they did everything they could to shake out the career that they're coming from. And it's not because they logically need to, or because the process requires it of them, it's because who they are and how they're wired. If they make a change without having done that, they are always going to have that question in the back of their heads. On the other hand, for people who are less wired that way, and who are more willing to explore in other ways, a lot of what I talk to and help my clients to do is to experiment with different possibilities in really low-investment, low-risk ways. And that's usually directed towards, okay, well, where do I want to go next? What's the new career for me that's going to be right for me? But you can also apply that to the job or the career or the industry that you're in. So, who is doing something similar to me, but different, that I can have a half-hour coffee with to ask them about the ins and outs of their job? Could I work shadow somebody? Could I spend some time volunteering in a different department of my organisation? Could I do a project that requires partnering with a related organisation, in order to dip my toes into different realms and get a feel for it, without taking a massive leap? So, I don't think it's necessary on a logical level. But some people do just need to do it for their own peace of mind.

Jeremy Cline 9:35
Something you said was that you don't recommend this to people, but this is what you did. And I've had a few people say that. They don't recommend leaping out of the parachutes without necessarily having the plan. In your case, selling the house and buying the one-way ticket to Greece. What's the case for doing that, for just taking the leap into the unknown without necessarily having something lined up?

Natasha Stanley 10:02
So, I think there's different layers to this. One piece of it, for me at least, I needed to know who I was in a place and an environment where none of the trappings of Natasha as we knew her were present. So, my identity was so closely wrapped up in my work, everybody knew me as like Natasha, the noble support worker, and Natasha the charity worker. My friends knew me in that way. My parents knew me in that way. I was known around the city I lived in for that kind of work. And so, I kind of wanted to shake all of that off and find out, if those structures disappear, then who's left. And for people who have the flexibility and the freedom and the autonomy to be able to do that, who feel drawn to do so, go for it. Right? There are no right answers to how to do this. Some people say to me, 'I know that I am so comfortably uncomfortable, that I'm not going to do anything unless I give myself a massive push.' I'm just comfortable enough being miserable that I could do this for another five to 10 years. And so, I need to do something drastic in order to make sure that I take action, even if that's a scary thing. But it's really just not possible for a lot of people. And I really want to put that caveat in place. There is so much guff that is peddled by people like me, who were like, 'Seize the day, take a big leap, everything's going to be great. You can do whatever you want.' And the reality is, not everybody can. If you've got kids, or a mortgage, or elderly parents or stuff to take care of, not everyone can just drop everything and run away to Greece. I think pushing that idea too far, that anybody can do anything, means that the smallest steps that some people can take feel less than or less achievable or less exciting. And they really don't have to be.

Jeremy Cline 12:16
Talk about, if the structures disappear, then what's left? I'm curious, apart from relocating yourself, what did dismantling these structures look like for you?

Natasha Stanley 12:31
One way was, very simply, learning to introduce myself in a different way. So, the standard question when people meet you in all kinds of places, at dinner parties and networking events, but also, it turns out, up mountains in Greece, 'So, what do you do?' Putting into language what do I do, who am I, in a way that didn't include, 'I run domestic violence refuges, I work with street-based sex workers, I work for the charity sector', allowed me to play with trying on different ways of talking about myself, which gave me the possibilities to try on different identities, which was surprisingly powerful. And this is something that I talked to a lot of career changers about, and I'd encourage listeners who are thinking about this to try on. Next time somebody asks you that, answer them in a different way. My day job is, but in my spare time, I'm, normally I do This, but actually, what I'm really excited about right now is this other thing. That allowed me to detach a little bit from that sense of identity that was so tightly wrapped up in the charity conversation. And I think the other part of it was giving myself things to do that were kind of a complete 180 from what I had been doing day to day. So, again, the daily structures of, wake up at this time, do your commute, see the things you see, talk to the people that you talk to everyday, do the things you do every day, shaking that up and starting to do things I'd never done before and talk to people I'd never talked to before popped that reality bubble that I had been living in for such a long time. And again, this is something that I constantly recommend to clients and people that I work with. People often come to me and say, 'I've got no idea what else I could do for a career. I know my own industry, and I know other people do other things for a job, but I don't know what they are.' You can't figure this stuff out by figuring it out. The answers are not inside your head. You have to get to them through action and through doing things that take you outside of your reality bubble. So, suddenly, I learned that I work brilliantly in the mornings, and the afternoons, I can't really do anything that's focused in the afternoons, which I had never really known, before because the working day is set up in the way that the working day is set up. And I found out I'm really good at physical work, and I love physical work, which I had never had the chance to do in my previous career. And I started to learn, oh, I'm actually pretty good at explaining stuff that feels quite high level in simple ways that anybody can understand, which was, again, not something I'd had a chance to do in my previous career. So, just that experience of doing stuff I'd never done before or hadn't done in a long time allowed me to see myself in a new light and start to generate new ideas for where I might want to head next.

Jeremy Cline 15:33
You said, as part of this process, you made lots of mistakes. And obviously, that's quite a lot what I'd like to talk with you about. So, in no particular order, what are the sorts of mistakes either that you made, or that you've seen other people make? And I suppose an interesting question is whether they are mistakes as such.

Natasha Stanley 15:54
I mean, we could go really meta here and say that the biggest mistake...

Jeremy Cline 15:58
Let's not do that.

Natasha Stanley 16:01
I mean, we could say that the biggest mistake is not being willing to make any mistakes, right? Because this is what keeps you paralysed. But looking back, if I frame this as mistakes, in terms of things I did that I could have saved myself a lot of time and stress by not doing, if we frame it in that sense, one of the things that I spent a lot of time doing was trying to figure out the answer. And we touched on this a little bit already, but I made a lot of lists. So many lists. Lists of strengths, list of weaknesses, my pros, my cons, what if this, lists of ideas. And over time, I've still got this notebook where I made all of my lists, and looking back through it, it is basically the same three lists over and over again in slightly different orders. I did every personality test that was available from the big classics, down to BuzzFeed, pick a vegetable, and we'll tell you what you should do with the rest of your life. I would lie in bed in the middle of the night, staring at the ceiling and just spinning circles inside my head trying to come up with new ideas, trying to slot things together like an algebra equation. And I wasn't getting anywhere, because career change is not an algebra equation, and it's not the kind of thing that you can figure out just from thinking about it. Which is so frustrating because most of us get paid to think about and solve problems. So, not being able to apply those skills and those abilities to our career change problem can feel really challenging. But we're taught that you have to know where you're going before you start moving, and you're supposed to get a clear goal, eyes on the prize, right? Then, set a goal, and then you start moving towards it. And actually, what I found was, as soon as I started taking action, even some of the wrong actions, and even some of the things that took me down paths that turned out to be dead ends, as soon as I started doing that, I started gaining clarity. Because I was gathering real-world data, rather than just spinning through the same information that I'd had inside my skull for years already. So, I think that's a big one. And it really takes some practising, because we are so well trained to figure out the answer first, and then aim ourselves towards it. And actually, what I see over and over again is it happens entirely the other way around.

Jeremy Cline 18:34
And so, that's not necessarily to say that the list making per se is a bad thing, at least I hope you're not going to say that, because a big part of my own coaching is this self-reflection, so it's figuring out what are your strengths, what are your values, what is the stuff that actually lights you up and gets you out of bed, but it's then taking that and staring at it and thinking that that's going to give you the answer, rather than using that as an indicator that maybe this thing is worth exploring, or maybe it's this thing, and the action is starting to get out there, and you think, 'Okay, well, I've got this information about myself, so I'm not going to be able to plug this into a sausage machine at one end and get the result at the other end, I'm going to have to do a bit of exploration and use this as a guide as to where I might go with it.' Does that sound like what you're suggesting? Or are you kind of going, 'No, absolutely not, forget all that'?

Natasha Stanley 19:32
I think the two things arise in a dance together. I wouldn't necessarily put either of them first. Like I'm going to make a list and then use that as a starting point. Or I'm just going to start doing random stuff and then I'm going to make a list, then I'm going to do reflective work. I think the two have to happen in unison, and they inform one another, and they feed into one another. The only information that we have to use for self-reflection is the information that we already have. And so, if we have been reflecting and reflecting and thinking and thinking, which many career changers have been doing for years, then we're going to keep coming up with the same information, because we're working with the same raw data. We're working with the same inputs, and our brains are systems, which means that new inputs equal new outputs. The same inputs equal the same outputs. And so, in order to give ourselves something to reflect on, we need to give ourselves some new data and say, 'Okay, well, what did I learn here? And how does that add to the picture that I'm building up?' And I think both together are really important as two sides of the same coin.

Jeremy Cline 20:42
And so, can you give some examples of what people can do in order to acquire this new data?

Natasha Stanley 20:48
Yeah, totally. And I mean, the good news is, pretty much anything that is new to you counts. So, one of the things that we do in our courses with career changers, one of the very first tasks or missions that we give them, we call the Roosevelt action. And this comes from a Roosevelt quotation. He said that, in any moment of uncertainty, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the second-best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing that you can do is do nothing at all. So, the task that we set people is to go and do something that they've never done before and that feels kind of buzzy and exciting when they think about doing it. And so, we have people who do big things, they go to an improv class for the first time. One of my favourite stories was a gentleman who was in his mid-50s and left this until the very last minute before our catch-up call. And so, he spent 10 minutes trying to teach himself to twerk from a YouTube video. But there's a woman called Francis whose story I often tell, who fell in love with this principle of, act it out, don't figure it out. And so, she was working with us during the pandemic, during the first lockdowns in 2020. And she thought, 'How in the world am I going to do new things from inside my house?' But she found an events listing website that was listing online events, and it had the option to filter things by things that are free, so you don't have to pay for them, and things that are happening today. And so, she said, 'Okay, every Thursday afternoon, I'm going to look at something that's free and happening today. And no matter what it is, I'm going to go and do it.' And Francis was a tax accountant, and she found herself at a seminar about robotic endoscopies, she went to a soapmaking workshop, she did an ecstatic dance class, Francis was not an ecstatic dance kind of lady, she went to a conference on LGBTQ rights in Southeast Asia, she did all of this new stuff, not because she thought her future career was going to be as an endoscopist or a soap maker, but just because, suddenly, she was exposed to new kinds of people talking about new kinds of things and mentioning organisations she'd never heard of and talking about topics that she thought, 'I didn't know much about that, but now I hear more, that's interesting, I'm going to go and follow that thing.' Seemingly completely random actins she was taking suddenly burst her bubble open. And there were little nuggets of clues in every single one of those things that she did, even if it was, I don't ever want to go to an ecstatic dance class again.

Jeremy Cline 23:33
I'm guessing as a tax accountant that Francis was probably quite an analytical person. So, I'm curious then what she did with all this new data, all this new input.

Natasha Stanley 23:42
Francis, she was working through our course, and she ended up actually working as a professional declutter and organiser. So, what she really loved, she found, was bringing order to chaos in pretty much any situation. She loved building systems for her own household, her daughter had ADHD, and so finding ways of putting systems in place to help her daughter showed her that, actually, this is something that really lights me up. But she also ended up through, I think she ended up in a breakout room with somebody at a workshop she was attending, I can't remember what the workshop was, but it was one of these adventures she was taking herself on, who just casually mentioned that people did this stuff for a living. And Francis had no idea that people got paid to go into other people's houses and help them make sense of things. And last I heard from her, I haven't heard from her for like 18 months or so now, but that was what she was doing.

Jeremy Cline 24:40
I don't know whether this counts as a mistake, or possibly it's a limiting belief, but something you said earlier about investment in your career, and that being one of the reasons that sometimes puts people off, I've heard it called the sunk-cost fallacy a few times, can you dive a little bit more into that?

Natasha Stanley 24:58
So, for me, personally, I felt as though I had volunteered in this sector, I had trained in relevant areas to the sector I was in, I had worked, doing things that I really didn't enjoy for as long as I had, my CV, my resume was all in one area. And the picture that I had of what a career change would involve was putting all of that firmly in the bin and starting from a completely clean slate, probably at the bottom of a career ladder, doing something completely different. Because this is what it's pitched as, right? When I speak to journalists, they're always like, 'Oh, what's the most extreme, wild career change you've ever seen?' And like, those aren't even the most interesting ones. But I think that this is something that a lot of people are particularly afraid of, is this idea that I've invested so much in the career that I'm in, and it's inevitable that wherever I end up will have nothing to do with any of that. The laughable part of all of this, for me, is that I use the skills that I used to use with the homeless community and with women fleeing domestic violence all the time now, just in a very, very different context. I use knowledge and understanding that I developed in my training to go and do that work now, and just in a very different context. And it's important to remember that, no matter where you end up, you will be bringing everything that you've developed up until this point with you. It's inevitable. You can't leave it behind. It's in the very bones of you. It's in the language that you use, the way that you think about things, the frameworks with which your mind works. It's all coming with you. It's just finding a different context in which to bring that kind of stuff to work. So, thinking about a career change as like a completely clean slate can be paralysing for all of these reasons. And it's much more interesting and juicy, I think, to look at the things that you've done and be like, 'I wonder where the bits of this that I love can get expressed in a different setting.'

Jeremy Cline 27:18
The mistakes, what other mistakes have you seen people made or did you make yourself?

Natasha Stanley 27:23
So, one of the big ones, and it's one of the ones that I think a lot of people, well, a lot of people, that's not fair, I certainly internally rolled my eyes at when I was making a career change, was the idea that putting other people around you will make a difference. So, I was very much a, I'm fine, thanks, do it all by myself, I'll figure this out, it's my problem, not yours, I don't want anybody to know that I've 'failed', in inverted commas, at being an adult. I'll keep this quiet and under the table, I don't want to bother anybody. All of this kind of stuff. And now, when I look at people making career changes, what I see over and over is that the ones that move the fastest are the ones who have recruited some kind of career change advisory board, as it were. And what's important about these people is that they are not the usual suspects. So, people often say, 'Oh, well, yes, I talked to my mom and dad about it, and I talked to my best friend about it. And they're helpful. They really love me. But...' And it's like, of course, there's a 'but' there. They do love you, and they're not necessarily the best equipped people to help you with this process. So, I say to people, you might need to think outside of those usual suspects. Who do you know who has made a career change themselves and can tell you about it? You probably actually know quite a few people, if you asked, and many of whom you wouldn't have realised that made a shift. Who do you know who's always doing courageous, bold things and can pump you up when you need to do something that feels a little bit scary as part of your career change? Who do you know who is just born to be an accountability buddy, because they love checking up on whether people have done stuff? Who can you reach out to, to play specific roles in your process? Because for a lot of people, certainly for me, I was my own biggest obstacle. It wasn't the job market. It wasn't my CV. I was making my career change not long after the 2008 financial crash, to all intents and purposes, it was the worst possible time to be doing all of this. The fears, the uncertainties, the downward spirals we can talk ourselves into, it's really hard to drag ourselves out of those holes. But if you've got a few people who are really well intentionally chosen, they can challenge those fears, and they can ease the assumptions you're making, and they can give you a good boot in the behind when you need one. And sometimes we all actually need one. But it does require a level of vulnerability and a level of willingness to allow other people into what can feel like quite a tender process. So, I think that's certainly a mistake that, a mistake, as I said, if we're defining this as things that would have saved me a lot of time and stress had I done them a different way, that's something that I look back at, and I just think, that version of Natasha, I wish she had been a little less alone in all of that.

Jeremy Cline 30:41
But I'll bet that, at least initially, there's a lot of people who say, 'I just don't have anyone in my life who fits that brief.'

Natasha Stanley 30:49
Yes, I hear that a lot. And I have actually never met anybody who didn't have at least one person. What is key is that you think, again, outside of your immediate circles. It is quite likely that you know somebody who has made a career change, even if you don't know that they've made a career change yet. This might be an uncle or an aunt, it might be a brother-in-law, it might be. So, David Burkus wrote a book called Friend of a Friend. He's a phenomenal human being who studies social networks and leadership. And he found that the best people to look for when making a career change are what he calls dormant ties. So, strong ties, your friends, your family, they know you really well, they're also inside your reality bubble. So, while they're very willing to help, they're not so likely to introduce you to new things. Weak ties, never met them before, they don't know who you are. You could cold approach them for a conversation. If they say yes, they're likely to introduce you to a very new world, but they're less likely to say yes, because they don't know who you are. Dormant ties are people who you used to be fairly close with, but through no fault of anybody's, you've just sort of drifted apart. So, people you worked with at your first job, people you went to college or university with, people that you spent a very intense week with at a work conference three years ago and got on really well but haven't seen since. Burkus found that, of the people he studied, 68% of people who had made career changes did so through a connection with a dormant tie. So, for those people who think, 'Well, I don't know anybody', first of all, you probably know more people than you think you do, it just takes a little bit of thinking outside of your usual suspects, and secondly, have a look at who might lie in that category of dormant ties.

Jeremy Cline 32:59
I reckon we've got time to fit in one more mistake. So, your choice, what would you like to bring to the party?

Natasha Stanley 33:06
So, I think one of the automatic ways that people tend to think about their future career is by starting from their skills, their CV, what have I done so far, and therefore, what will that allow me to do next? I absolutely did this. I used to look at my CV, which I now affectionately call a list of things I don't want to do anymore, I think this is what most people's CVs are, and I thought to myself, 'Okay, well, good working knowledge of UK welfare benefits, difficult but dangerous and disturbing behaviour training, what does this all allow me to do?' Basically, what it allowed me to do in my head was work for the probation service, go into government lobbying and campaigning, or work with international charities. And I didn't want to do any of those things. And starting from where you've been and your skills is absolutely natural, because it's what we're taught about how the world of work works. Right? You submit your CV with the right keywords on it, send that off into the black hole of the Internet where a bot will read it, and then if you've said the right words, and you've got the right skills, someone will allow you in. But ultimately, what this is, is just driving with your hands on the rear-view mirror. Right? You're not going to get anything new or different that way, and you really don't have to be limited to just what you've done so far. The more new experiences that you can have, the more new places you can take yourself into, the more you can start from what is it that energises me, not just what could I be good at or what am I good at, but if you start from what energises me, then you are fun more likely to discover new possibilities for yourself, to end up in a role that actually feels fulfilling. And then, the next question is, okay, based on what I know about what energises me, based on the fact that I've now learned that I want to head in this direction, what do I want to bring to the party? Doing it this way around opens up so many more possibilities for where you might be able to head. Give yourself the chance to be gloriously surprised and delightedly mistaken about everything you think is possible for yourself. And then, once you found the direction you want to head to, then look at, okay, well, what are the skills, and what are the experiences that I want to bring out here. But that's a really important flip that I see makes a massive difference in the experiences of people that we work with.

Jeremy Cline 35:52
Yeah, because otherwise, it just becomes this self-perpetuating cycle. So, you know, I am a lawyer, specialism in this particular area, okay, so that means that, for future jobs, I've got to be a lawyer with that specialism in that particular area. And if that's not something I'm particularly enjoying doing, then I'm just going to go round and round in circles. Whereas if I decide that, I don't know, I want to be a comedic improviser, to pick up on something you said earlier, then I can think, 'Okay, well, what are the skills that I've picked up in my career which might apply to that?' And that must be a very freeing way of looking at it, actually.

Natasha Stanley 36:32
Totally, and a lot more fun. This is the part that we often forget about career changes, that on one level, yes, you're trying to get away from something that isn't working for you, but it is also a phenomenal excuse to go and do lots of stuff that you like. And the more fun and the more play that you can bring to this whole process, the faster you move. Feels very counterintuitive, but it's what we see over and over again. Go and have a good time, follow that. You're far more likely to end up somewhere that you like if you go that way around.

Jeremy Cline 37:05
And that in itself is going to be quite a big mindset shift. People who are basically miserable in their careers, suddenly, you're going, 'Yeah, have some fun with the thing.' But I just want to escape.

Natasha Stanley 37:17
Yeah. And both can be true. Both can be true. There's space for, because this is really important as well, and I want to make sure that I'm not pitching it in in that way, that the only thing that there's space for in career change is to be happy and positive and productive, and go and hustle your way into a new career, and that positive thinking and vision boards. And like, no, actually, honestly, no matter how you go about this, there are probably going to be evening sitting on the kitchen floor wondering what the dickens you're doing. And there are going to be moments where you doubt everything, and there are going to be moments that feel really, really uncomfortable, and you do not like it. And that is just part of the deal. So, making space for that, and having it be okay to feel a bit rubbish, it's alright for human beings to feel a bit rubbish, but then, in the context of that, how can we bring a little bit of lightness? How can we grip a little bit less on to getting the right answer and give yourself room to explore? They're both, yeah, there's room for all of it, and they both have their role to play.

Jeremy Cline 38:28
If time allowed, we could probably cover an awful lot more stuff, but sadly, time doesn't. If people want to explore the topic further, what's something that you typically recommend to people or you found has been particularly useful for yourself as a resource that people can explore?

Natasha Stanley 38:46
I mean, there's so many different resources. The easy place to go would be books. And for me, and this is something we haven't touched on yet in this conversation, so it might be fun to throw in for people who feel like they have way too many ideas, their sense isn't, 'Okay, I've got no idea what to do next', but it's more like, 'I've got 42,000 ideas, and I can't choose', then there's a woman called Emilie Wapnick, who runs a site, and she has done a TED talk called Puttylike, where she talks about and supports people who are multipotentialites, scanners who are naturally interested in lots and lots of different things and want to embrace that, rather than beating themselves up for it. That was something that suddenly, that was a big moment of clarity for me of like, 'Oh, it's okay to be interested in lots of things and to want to change over and over again, it's not because I'm fickle or non-committal or childish, it's actually a real benefit.' That was a big one for me.

Jeremy Cline 39:54
And that's going to go against a lot of the more popular messaging that you see. So, you know, you've got to it identify your passion and follow it. Natasha is currently cringing with her hands over her eyes as I say this. But yeah, this idea that you can be passionate about lots of things and maybe flip between them, that it's okay.

Natasha Stanley 40:15
Totally.

Jeremy Cline 40:15
That's going to be new to people.

Natasha Stanley 40:17
Totally. There's so much on the internet. And I remember this from when I was making my shift. But like how to change careers? Step one, find your passion. Like it's just down the back of a couch somewhere, you know? And if that is the first thing you have to do before you can do anything else, how is anybody going to make a move? One of the most popular courses at Stanford is the Design Your Life course. And one of the studies that underpins that course found that 86% of people do not have one single passion. Some of them don't have a passion at all. They're just like, 'I really like this, I'm quite interested in.' That is great! We don't all have to be tearing our hearts out over a topic in order to have a good time doing it for work. So, real bugbear of mine. So, yes, we can have lots of different things we're interested in, we can have things that we just like a lot, thank you very much. It's all good.

Jeremy Cline 41:16
If someone wants to get in touch with you, where would you like them to go?

Natasha Stanley 41:19
So, you can find all of the work we do with Careershifters at careershifters.org. On there, you can find lots of expert articles, success stories, who have made career changes and how they did it. We've got a masterclass series where we interview lots of specialists on different topics, and then our workshops and longer courses for people who want to do this as part of our community. And then, you can also find me and my other ramblings and curiosities at natashastanley.co.uk.

Jeremy Cline 41:48
Links to those in the show notes as usual. Natasha, thank you so much for coming on the podcast.

Natasha Stanley 41:53
Thank you, Jeremy. It's been a lot of fun.

Jeremy Cline 41:56
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Natasha Stanley. Lots of great tips there from Natasha, and if you've been listening to this podcast for any length of time, you'll know that the one that stood out most for me it was networking, connecting with other people, asking other people about what they do. And I wanted to give you a really real example of this. So, the day I recorded this interview, somebody posted on my local town's Facebook group they're doing the Careershifters programme, and they asked whether there was anyone who'd be prepared to have a 15-minute conversation with them about their own career. They explained in the post how it's one of their missions as part of the Careershifters course to have these conversations with people in different careers. So, this person put a post on the local Facebook group, and she received 69 comments, and that was before she turned comments off. So, there's proof, if proof is needed, that people really are happy to help and to chat about themselves. So, it's definitely, definitely worth doing. As always, there's a summary of the key points from the conversation, a full transcript, and links to the resources mentioned in the show notes for this episode at changeworklife.com/172. That's changeworklife.com/172. And whilst you're there, take a look at changeworklife.com/coaching, that's changeworklife.com/coaching, for details of the coaching I offer, which includes career change coaching. I'm not going to say it's a mistake to think that you can just figure things out for yourself in your own head, because some people can, and with time, maybe you can as well. But the fact is, you will do it much more quickly and effectively when you work with someone. And whether that's Careershifters, or whether that's with me as a coach, or with someone else who specialises in career coaching, I can't stress how valuable just having someone in your corner giving you this support, accountability and different perspective, it can be incredibly useful. So, if I'm someone you'd like to explore working with, you can go to changeworklife.com/coaching, changeworklife.com/coaching, and you can book a 30-minute call with me to find out what I'm all about. There's another great interview coming up in two weeks' time, so if you haven't subscribed to the show already, make sure you do, and I can't wait to see you in two weeks' time. Cheers. Bye.

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