After going through a few major career pivots myself, and coaching hundreds of professionals through career transitions, I began noticing that people successful at relaunching their careers tend to go through 7 stages of career change. I wanted to share my own career story here to illustrate these important stages.
THE STATUS QUO
This stage set my career foundation, and I felt content. In 2006, I began my first corporate marketing job in Consumer Packaged Goods industry in the Bay Area. I was earning a good salary, working on stimulating projects, learning a ton about corporate life, enjoying the camaraderie of colleagues, and feeling proud of working for a top company with #1 brands in the market.
STAGE 1- DOUBT
Something began to feel “off” with my job. A few years and a couple companies into my marketing career, I found myself as a lead marketer for a rapidly growing start-up in London. At first, marketing for a cool brand felt very exciting, but over time, it quickly started to lose its luster. I started to question if I truly cared about getting people to buy more desserts.
STAGE 2- DISMAY
I became dissatisfied with my career path. Over time, I found myself feeling less and less interested in driving company profit or creating the next game-changing brand campaign. Work began to feel less meaningful, and I began to realize that marketing consumer products was no longer fulfilling to me. Something needed to change.
STAGE 3- MITIGATION
I tried to make things work. To deal with my dissatisfaction, I began pursuing my other passions during my free time. I had always tinkered with the idea of starting my own career consultancy, so I got my professional coaching certification. Then, during my evenings and weekends, I began coaching private clients on issues related to career change. I was basically trying to offset the negativity I was feeling from work with the positivity I derived from these side projects.
STAGE 4- EXHAUSTION
I began to run out of energy. I was promoted into a global role at work, which was more demanding. At the same time, my coaching practice outside of work began to gain traction. With a finite number of hours each day, I simply didn’t have enough energy balance it all, to give anything 100% anymore. I was trying to cram way too much into each day, and I was running out of steam.
STAGE 5- DEPARTURE
I decided to let go of what I had. Over time, I was not able to give 100% to my work, my personal interests, the people in my life, or my physical health. My coaching work gained more traction, but I simply didn’t have enough time or energy to dedicate to growing my business. Something had to give. So I eventually resigned from my job to make room for building my own business focused on helping people relaunch their careers.
STAGE 6- REFLECTION
I gave myself permission to take a break. After I left that company, I did NOT immediately jump into working on my business. I gave myself a full month to just stop and refocus on priorities unrelated to work. I went back to the US to visit friends and spend time with my mother. Money was tight, and although I was eager to get the business going, I took the time to fully stop, relax, and collect my thoughts so I could refuel for the journey ahead.
STAGE 7- RELAUNCH
I launched the next chapter of my career. The career consulting work that began as a side gig became my full-time job. I did a mix of personal brand consultancy, career coaching, and public speaking that included giving a TEDx Talk on career change. Fortunately, I gained more and more traction with each passing day, and my work allowed me to make the most of who I am and what I can offer.
EACH STAGE IS UNIQUELY IMPORTANT
Looking back on things, I don’t know if I could have “skipped” any one of these stages. I don’t think you can shortcut your way toward relaunching your career. Each stage serves its own unique purpose. Some stages give you clarity to know you’re in the wrong place. Others help you gain confidence to try something new. Still others help you gather the courage needed to make a leap. You really need all three—clarity, confidence, AND courage—to make a brave leap that takes your career in a new direction.
With enough tenacity, patience and hard work, you absolutely can relaunch your career. You just have to hang on tight through all the ups and downs, dig deep during the tougher moments, and give yourself permission to pursue your true interests once you’re ready.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Which stage are you at in your career? If you need help figuring this out, you can download my free 7 Stages of Career Change Roadmap. The Roadmap gives you the major characteristics and behaviors associated with each stage, along with an exercise to help you get the most out of every step. You can also check out the animation I created below for a quick overview of each stage: