career change puzzle

When I was changing careers I wanted to wake up and know exactly what to do. I wanted someone to just show me the big picture – fully formed and flawless.

Pretty quickly, I realized that this just doesn’t happen. I had to stop waiting for an epiphany and start creating the right conditions.

It turns out, changing careers is a lot like doing a massive jigsaw. You need to practice the twin arts of patience and pattern spotting. Transforming a mound of disconnected fragments into a complete and complex whole takes time and tenacity. It also takes imagination and intuition.

It’s absorbing and frustrating and fun.   

  • Start with the littlest links

Exploring new roles and industries taught me lots of little seemingly unrelated things. I started to ‘post–it’ note the ones that gave me a buzz, being careful not to miss the tiniest thing that sparked my interest. These became my ‘yeses’ highlighting my favorite skills, my hottest soapbox topics, my most energizing workplaces.

My moveable post-it note feast helped me spot the patterns in things and places and people that inspired me. It was crucial in uncovering the complete picture of what I wanted to do. Best of all it documented the steps I’d taken to get there.

The standout realization from my noting was this –

I’m intrigued by what makes us tick.

  • Reject the ‘unfit’ bits

Most jigsaw puzzlers spend time madly cramming in pieces that despite appearances don’t actually fit. Solving my career change puzzle involved a fair few of these ‘unfit’ bits.  Along with all the tiny highly connective ‘yeses’, I unearthed numerous ‘noes’ including some of my hotly anticipated ‘yeses’, which turned out to be dead ends, or slow fizzling failures.

For example, I’d enjoyed doing consumer research in my previous professional lives. However, a size-able stint of volunteering back in this field showed me that this was no longer the case. While research findings into human behavior fascinate me, the actual process of gathering them is just not my thing.

This was a fruitful insight. The flip side of this particular ‘no’ revealed a crucial corner piece of my jigsaw. It pointed me towards careers connected to helping people ‘tick’ more successfully – like career change coaching.

  • Use logic and intuition

Solving jigsaws relies equally on both these things. Sometimes you hunt long and hard to piece together a dozen disparate looking but ultimately connected bits. Other times your eye is instantly drawn to that elusive crucial piece. Managing career change is much the same. You will need endurance and patience for the painstaking process of trial and error. You’ll need logic for the careful sorting of the ‘yeses’ and the ‘noes’. You will also need confidence and courage to trust those serendipitous hunches and to make apparently random connections that work like a charm.

  • Find fresh eyes

Having someone else spot the ‘missing piece’ can ‘unstick’ a jigsaw section that’s held you up for weeks. Although lots of us prefer the quiet satisfaction of solving puzzles unaided, sometimes the right help at the right moment can be a fine thing.  

One of the first things I tell my clients is this. While I’ll help them create the right career change conditions, it will be the two of together who will excavate and unveil their own masterpiece.  After that, we pool our puzzle solving skills to find and sort and connect the bits of their brilliant career change picture.

I know how it feels to be lost in your career. That’s why I coach, to create learnings, action and help others get stuff done! Changing your career can be lonely and confusing so I’ll walk alongside you, be your cheerleader and help you figure out what meaningful work is for you.

Reach out to Jo Green, Career Change Coach directly here!


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Jo Green is a career change coach who has questioned her own career and felt unfulfilled, and now helps others avoid that pain and frustration.
Now in her 4th career she has a background in marketing, project management and not for profits. But Jo retrained to be a qualified coach from CoachU and an accredited Careershifters & Firework Advanced Certified Coach (both recognised by the International Coach Federation). She works every day with people in career transition, starting their own enterprise or searching for new direction. She knows when people find what they love, heart and soul, their life changes.