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Overcoming Challenges in Career Shifts

Taking on a new journey always presents new adventures and challenges. When shifting career, we go through the ups and downs of the change curve – from the denial to the acceptance. And the process to successful change may take either short or long depending on how we respond to every phase or situation.

I’ve been working professionally for 27 years. Out of which, I’ve had four major career shifts, and had juggled two careers at one time. In this article, I’m sharing the key lessons I’ve learned through my journey.

Past success was not enough. Humility to start again was key.

While my past success was valuable, I learned it was the humility to start again that really helped. The willingness to be treated “the new kid on the block”; to embrace the new challenges that went with it; and to enjoy the learning process were the keys to starting anew.

I have built a good total of 20-year record in sales and in regional general management in multinational companies I worked for. I was posted for international assignments where I successfully led complex businesses and diverse teams.

Indeed, my past success served as my foot at a new door. But to enter and stay in my new path, I had to let go of the other paths I’ve enjoyed. This was not easy at first. I was in a comfort zone in my previous life. I was used to having a productive team and an efficient system working for me. I enjoyed some privileges and powers that came with my previous positions.

Yet once I embraced the changes and challenges, I became more comfortable in my new life. In contrast from the rich resources and complex multi-national organization structures I was used to, I found immense joy in touching individual lives as a coach, or in developing my small team and collaborating with my partners as an entrepreneur. From having established systems, processes or tools, I discovered the joys of flexibility and creativity as an independent consultant.

Passion was a starting point. Courage & Persistence kept me going.

“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage”, wrote Paulo Coelho.

Paulo was right. Let me just add, it’s also a matter of passion and persistence!

My sales and regional management careers were born out of circumstances rather than out of choice. My shift to training, consulting & coaching, and subsequently, into food retail entrepreneurship, were my choices and driven by my passions.

But to move forward, I needed more than passion to endure and enjoy the journey. I needed to learn new skills or competencies, gain new experiences, reach out to new networks and people, take unfamiliar paths and risks, accept rejections and failures, and get used to new success benchmarks.

I studied again and got relevant certifications in my new fields. I planted as many seeds and executed as many actions as possible, even when the desired outcomes were not assured. Most importantly, I focused on my mission and vision rather than on financial success.

Success took a different measure and meaning.

If passion was a critical starting point, my bigger mission and vision served as my endpoints.

To travel through a new career journey and reach my destination, I had to find joy in all the planning and preparation, and the execution of the small or big action items. To stay on task and stay motivated, I kept the endpoint in my mind.

My measures of career success became different in every shift. When I started in sales, it was all about achieving sales numbers. When I shifted to general management, it was all about the business profit and loss and market share growth, and eventually about developing successors and talents. When I shifted to consulting, training & coaching, it focused on impacting teams or individuals, and witnessing the transformations in their lives.

The older I got, it seemed my measure of success became more about giving, became more meaningful and purpose-driven, and became more about reaching life’s endpoints. Such focus and perspectives have made it all worth it!

Indeed, taking on a new career journey presents new adventures and challenges. If you have gone through a career shift, how have you overcome the challenges? Are the challenges worth it?

Note: This article has also been posted in LinkedIn.

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