This blog was supposed to be about something completely different – but I’ll save that idea for another time because I just have to share with you all the joy of Aisha (name changed!), a coaching client of mine who moved to a new job about 3 weeks ago. Aisha works in the development sector, but her story has value for anyone thinking about changing jobs in these uncertain times and shows how it can be done and what is really essential.
On the call today (via Zoom of course), she was a different person: smiling, laughing, full of stories to tell me about the interesting work, about the way in which her new manager involves her in everything to do with the project he is leading, and includes her in all meetings with clients, asking her not only to do analyses and provide summaries but also expecting her to give her opinion and proposals.
This is a new experience for Aisha, whose previous job did not stimulate or challenge her intellectually and where she had little opportunity to develop her skills. Aisha was stagnating in that job and was determined to find a way out, although she knew this would not be easy in Covid times. When the opportunity came along she grasped it enthusiastically, and the effort she invested has paid off enormously.
What helped Aisha to make this transition successfully, despite the huge challenges of changing jobs now?
Motivation – Aisha had huge motivation and the determination to see it through. She wanted to work on projects where her heart lay and where she could really bring her enthusiasm, not only her hardworking attitude, to the table. When we are not really interested in our work, we can’t put our heart and soul into it and we end up being miserable, just going through the motions. This can have a serious detrimental effect on our well-being and on our relationships. We need to be in a job that satisfies our intellectual and emotional needs, not just pays the bills.
Lesson 1 learned: Do what you love
Planning - Aisha’s previous role had been that of a generalist, but for a long time her heart had been in the provision of services for adolescents. This meant she needed to get up to speed on the issues and challenges of the sector. She prepared by reading as much as she could and also be reaching out to people for information (see the next factor: Support). Once she got to the new job (still working from home!) she was already well informed. Of course the learning curve has been demanding; she has had to learn the ropes of the new position, but her new manager and colleagues are all impressed by her knowledge.
Planning also included preparing herself mentally for the demands of a new job. Aisha was under no illusions: she knew there would be a great deal to learn, content-wise, building relationships with new colleagues, and the unwritten rules of the job. She created a learning journal for herself to record her questions and her thoughts.
Lesson 2 learned: Do your homework
Support – Aisha could not have done it alone, and was savvy enough to recognise this and to enlist support. This included getting support from all the right people, including her husband who has been amazing throughout. Aisha has 2 children, and juggles work with her family commitments. But she told me she is happier now, and that has a wonderful effect on her family, too.
She also reached out to me as her coach and to someone in the relevant sector in the organization to be her mentor, a relationship which has proven invaluable. She is also learning to build a network in the new work context, mindful that networking is a 2-way street – you give and you get.
Lesson 3 learned: Get support
Self-care – Finally, Aisha has recognised how important it is to take care of herself as she navigates the new job. This means taking (making) the time for regeneration, doing her yoga practice, eating nutritiously and stopping work at a regular time. She is making the most of her new opportunity, and will not endanger her success by overworking.
Lesson 4 learned: Look after yourself