Career transition can be challenging. It can also be full of possibilities and opportunities. How you approach career transition has much to do with the mindset you apply to it. As individuals, our mindset is shaped by our experience. It is an important part of who we are, and it impacts what we think and how we behave.
The Age shared some of my tips on how to avoid being limited by your mindset when changing careers.
Career transition can be challenging. It can also be full of possibilities and opportunities. How you approach career transition has much to do with the mindset you apply to it. As individuals, our mindset is shaped by our experience. It is an important part of who we are, and it impacts what we think and how we behave. This is because we interpret the world we live in and what is happening based on our beliefs, perceptions and assumptions.
It is this interpretation that drives our internal state, and ultimately our thoughts, emotions and behaviour. As author and philosopher, Aldous Huxley said: “Our experience is not what happens to us, but what we make of what happens to us.”
Beware of limitations
The danger is that our mindset can limit us, and in ways we may not be consciously aware. It can put in place roadblocks and obstacles that make it much harder to achieve our career transition goals. A client I was working with a number of years ago had seen their self-confidence erode due to a very challenging work environment. Despite enormous success in previous roles, their experience and belief in themselves was coloured by their most recent experience. Consequently, they were reluctant to put themselves forward for more senior roles at work. They were worried that they no longer had the capability to excel at work. They had the capability to succeed, but their mindset was holding them back.
Know your mindset
If you are going through a career transition, it’s important to understand the role your mindset is playing. Is it helping or hindering your progress? A quick way to check your mindset is to ask yourself the following question: Do I believe that I know everything I need to know already, or do I believe there is still so much to learn? How you answer will help you determine if you have a fixed or growth mindset. These terms were coined by the world renowned Stanford academic Carol Dweck.
She found that people who have a fixed mindset see intelligence as static – a fixed trait. As a result, they want to always look smart and appear as though they have all the answers. They believe that success is based on talent alone – not work. This means they will avoid challenges and give up more easily. These are not very helpful traits in the context of career transition, where there are often setbacks and challenges.
Shift to growth
In contrast, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed through hard work and effort. Consequently, they are more eager to embrace learning, take on challenges and persist, despite setbacks. They love learning and usually display higher resilience. These are characteristics that a person needs to have in abundance during times of career transition.
If a person loves learning, they won’t shy away from acquiring new skills and ideas. With higher resilience they will have the courage to keep persevering despite the ‘knock-backs’ that are inevitable when applying for roles. So when faced with a career transition take the time to examine your mindset and consider the impact it may have on your willingness to push yourself outside your comfort zone.
Ask yourself as you are embarking on your career change: what mindset am I taking into this process? Is it fixed or growth? And what do I need to do to be more open to learning and growing through the transition? Career change happens. Make it work for you.