Even though career transitions can be scary, on average we go through 12 in our lifetime.
Mastering how to handle these transitions is crucial.
Zanele Njapha shares her personal experience and how this led to her developing her “Career Transition Formula”. Zanele, or as her clients call her ‘The UnLearning Lady’, is an international Transitions Facilitator and Future of Work Speaker, helping companies navigate organisational changes and step confidently into the new world of work.
Believe it or not, I used to be a primary school teacher, or before I started the work that I do now with organizations of helping them learn, unlearn, and relearn for a new world of work. Now, it used to get really quiet in the classroom after all of the children had left. So quiet that I would do that thing. That thing that I sometimes did only because I knew that nobody was watching me at the time. Now tell you what it is just now. But I want to let you know that I used to get so embarrassed knowing that I used to do that thing. Until I realized that my story was the story of so many other career movers across the world. 1000s and possibly even millions of career movers were doing the exact same thing, possibly not exactly the same, but so similar. Because you see, when you and I are transitioning through a range of different careers, roles, organizations, we dream about what’s next.
So now, let me tell you what I used to do. I used to stand up in front of an empty classroom, and pretend to deliver a keynote. So it was a fake keynotes, in essence, to an audience that only existed in my head. Now, I didn’t do that because I was trying to be fancy or it was a fad. But I did it because I knew that for me, that’s what was next. In my mind. I was a keynoter, a facilitator, a coach, even though in the real world, he was still a primary school teacher. Now, here’s the interesting thing, you might also be on the cusp of a career change or thinking about making your next big career move. All at any given time, you are thinking about the best way to do that, especially because labor statistics data shows that the average baby boomer occupies about 12 different careers in their lifetime. 12, that’s a lot, I’m sitting on about four, if I count my undergraduate jobs that I had at the time, so we’re changing careers, more than we stay in any kind of normalcy. It’s mind blowing.
And so I’ve developed the career transition formula based on my personal journey, and the journeys of so many other career movers that I’ve worked with. And all that it is, is three different steps that help you and I make those changes, and not just ones off, but consistently. The first one, awareness, being aware of where you are, and having a deep appreciation for the stage in which you occupy at the time. The second one is strategy, because you can be aware all you want. But unless you have a plan to get you there, then that awareness doesn’t serve you much. And the very last of the three is accountability, having individuals and an environment around you that holds you accountable to the promise that you made to yourself. Now, the career transition formula applies differently to so many of us, depending on where we are in our careers.
Let me run you through how you can apply it personally to where you are, so that you’re aware, you strategize, and you stay accountable, you can be in any one of three different places. The first place you might be in your career, is what I call a career ending. And this is the point where you’re looking out the window and wondering what’s next, or you’re delivering a fake keynote, like I did. Something you can think about when you’re in the stage to know if this is you is you have a deep longing for something different.
You might even feel like you’re starting to shrink in your career, instead of growing, it feels like you’ve hit a ceiling in terms of your learning and your growth questions you can ask yourself here, to bring awareness to strategize and to stay accountable are, what opportunities are around me that I’m missing. Because oftentimes, we focus so much on the future, that we’ll miss the opportunities right in front of us for our career transition and annexed. The second question, you can ask yourself, How do I manage my emotions and my relationships so that I leverage them for my next opportunity? Now, maybe you’re not at the end of a career.
Maybe you’ve just started off. So you’re at the second phase, and this is new beginnings. How do you know you’re at a new beginning? I like to say you feel like you’re the baby. And I felt like this. When I started off the work that I do. Not everyone wanted to help me. I mean, I had individuals coming up to me saying how can we make this easier for us in LA? How do we better support you? How do we create an environment where you can thrive, and that support can sometimes be really overwhelming. But when you’re at a new beginning, that’s the kind of environment you’re faced with. You feel like everything is swirling around you and all of the balls are in the air at the very same time.
So how do you in this stage? Raise your awareness, strategize and stay accountable. The first question you can ask yourself is how will I measure my progress in this new environment? As much as everything is moving around at the same time? I need to be able to track So now that I am making some kind of progress, second question, you can ask yourself, Who is around me, who is around me in this new environment to support my journey so that I can bring my best self forward? And these are individuals like coaches, mentors, and sponsors. Now, none of those two may be where you are. You’re possibly at the stage that I call settled and kicking ‘s. Yes, I said it settled and kicking ass is that stage where you feel like the team around you just knows your flow so well? And do you secretly I’ll be it.
Know which work you can get away with and which work is actually important and deserving of your time. You sometimes even feel and this is what one career moves movers say to me, or has I nearly I feel like I could do this work in my sleep. That’s when you’re settled and kicking ass. Now, it is important that even at the stage, you stay away, you strategize, and you stay accountable. So what questions do you ask yourself now? First question you can ask yourself is Am I falling for the elusive sage stage? What happens that settled and kicking ass is that because we’re the old knowing in the office or in the organization, or on the teams call? We tend to walk upright and feel like everyone should ask us for all of the answers. Be careful of this trait Because oftentimes, what it does is it derails you from your career strategy and consistent ongoing growth. Second question that you can ask yourself at settled and kicking ass is what’s next for me? Way too from here, let me not say stuck in this current environment without constantly looking at revisiting my career development plan, and making sure I’m still on track.
Now, next time you find yourself delivering a fake keynotes, to non existing audience members, always know that whatever you’re daydreaming is for you next, there is a path to get there. And that path is the Career Transition Formula. All you have to do is raise your awareness around where you are. Strategize, so you have a Northstar to get you there. And then have an environment and people around you that will hold you accountable to the promise that you made to yourself.