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The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

The Ultimate Work Skills List to Help You Change Careers

Career changes are tough. As adults, there are many factors that impact our decisions – family, finances, life partner, or the labor market. As you analyze and plan, it’s easy to fall victim to your own preconceived notions and jaded assumptions.

You may even talk yourself out of the change and stay where you are as you get stuck in your loop of thoughts and worries. Instead, I urge you to understand the emotions attached to change and apply this work skills list to help manage the emotions that come with your next career transition.

Get ready to peel back the layers, do some inner work, and exercise your mental tenacity to embrace your desired career change.

Recognize the Emotions of Change

While individual reactions to change will vary, there are some common emotions that you’ll likely experience as you embark on a career change.[1]

1. Fear of the Unknown

Humans are creatures of habit, and like feeling safe and comfortable. Uncertain thoughts and emotions can flood our minds as we embrace change:

  • What if I fail?
  • I’ll need to go back to school.
  • It’s too late to make a change now.

2. Frustration and Anxiety

The thought of changing careers may have you stuck in worryville and it’s common for self-doubt to creep into your mind.

The mere thought of how a career change may impact your life can bring about behaviours that stall you from taking tiny steps toward any changes:

  • I can’t take a pay cut.
  • My family depends on me.
  • I’ll need to start from scratch.
  • I’ve worked hard for my promotions, benefits and pension.

3. Know Your Emotional Triggers

While we desire changes in our lives, we’re sometimes met with resistance within ourselves.[2] It will take time to address and overcome the stories and assumptions that we’ve told ourselves since our experiences have likely clouded our perceptions and judgements.

The good news? This is a great opportunity to shift your mindset and challenge your own beliefs. As you embrace your next career change, tiny or big, track your thought patterns:

  • What are you telling yourself and why? During uncertain times our inner critic and negative thoughts can easily enter our brain. You have a chance to replace your self-doubt with new ones, or at least learn to tame them.
  • Check your assumptions. Challenge preconceived notions about yourself. Are they really true and how can you confirm them?
  • Question preconceived notions of what others are thinking about you. What’s the importance of their thoughts? Why does it matter to you so much? Are you seeking their approval?

Looking inward and being honest with yourself can help you move forward with career changes that you desire.

Work Skills to Change Careers and Thrive at Your Next Job

In my 15 plus year working career, I’ve experienced four major career changes so far. And each time, I learn something new that I wish I would have known to make each career transition a little easier.

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1. Fill up on Patience

Our world of work is changing so fast. You’ll need to be able to naturally go with the ebbs and flows of your career. Equip yourself with these skills to embrace your next opportunity and challenge:

Sleep.[3] Recharging your brain sufficiently with at least 7 hours of sleep can help you to manage emotional challenges and you’ll be less likely to overreact when you get annoyed or frustrated. Sleep needs to be your first priority, not an afterthought, so that you can optimize your health and tackle your goals.[4]

Slow down. We sometimes have a tendency to rush through our day without much thought. When you feel rushed or impatient, take mindful breaths and pause. Be deliberate about your next action.

2. Grow with Rejection by Leveraging Your Strengths

You’ll likely talk about your career change with those close to you, and eventually with others as you gather more information to help you make informed decisions about the changes you want to make.

While some will be supportive, you’ll be faced with some naysayers who will dismiss your ideas or worse – not respond. This may add to your self-doubt.

Have courage. This is the best time to focus on your strengths and what’s important to you.

Give yourself time. When feelings become uncomfortable, it’s easy to ignore them and rush into something else, but they will always be there until you address those emotions. Pause and reflect on what happened. You’ll likely find a few ‘ah-ha’ moments to help you become more resilient.

Exercise compassion. You may feel angry, in denial, shame, loneliness or embarrassment.[5] However, this is the best time to be kind to yourself and reset. Do something you enjoy, like going for a run or getting lost in a bookstore. Even helping a loved one during this time can help you be grateful for what you do have and see a different perspective.

3. Exercise Self-Approval and Notice Your Confidence Level

You, and only you, need to live with your career choices and ultimately your life choices.

As human beings, we want to feel connected, be accepted by others, and belong to a group. So it’s natural for us to want to seek approval from others about our decisions.

Your professional presence can easily be observed by others. Reflect on your confidence level:

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Are you constantly seeking praise from your manager? Or is there a possibility that you’ve been overconfident and dismissed someone’s feedback or critique of your work?

There’s a fine line between being confident, assertive, aggressive, or arrogant. Note how these behaviors have shown up and impacted your career.

4. Be Open to Experiment

Changing careers is a time of discovery. As adults, it’s easy to make snap assumptions based on our experiences. Take a beginners mindset to learning about the changes you want to make. This will help you be more open to trial and error during the process.

Step away from scrolling the Internet and actually talk to people working in the industry that you’re interested in through informational interviews. Some information may peak your interest to speak to more people or you may have gained insights that will make you shift in an entirely different direction. The information you gather will help you make informed and confident decisions about your next move.

5. Listen Deeply and Hone Your Observation Skills

This includes observations about yourself and your environment.

Pay attention to what you’re doing to gain self-awareness and take time to be attuned to your surroundings. This includes noticing your workplace culture, your colleagues work styles, your team dynamics, and various communication channels used.

Learn more about observation skills in this article:

How Observational Learning Can Have a Huge Impact on Productivity

6. Think Critically, Be a Self-Starter, and Take Initiative

“The only thing that is constant is change” — Heraclitus

Be adaptable and open to learn new skills.

Jobs are evolving, and we need to be open to learn creative ways to get work done. The more you learn the more informed you’ll be. You can then create new ideas or try different combinations to achieve results.

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With industries changing and businesses needing to adapt to thrive in competitive markets, people need to show and articulate their value and contributions to support business needs.

This may mean having the foresight in your area of expertise to help companies make informed decisions. For example, the ability to discern large amounts of information using research skills and presenting them to key influencers in plain language.

All of these skills sets will help you achieve your ultimate goals.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help or ask questions to clarify. This will show that you’re listening and paying attention to your work.

To keep your skills fresh and your brain sharp, keep learning:

15 Ways to Cultivate Lifelong Learning for a Sharper Brain

7. Ability to Influence Without Authority

Whether you report to one person, work in a matrix organization or as an entrepreneur, you’ll need to interact with others. You’ll need to be able to negotiate, convince and sometimes sell others’ on why your services, products, or recommendations would be of benefit.

You won’t always be in a position of power. So having the ability to influence people is a key work skill to have.

The next time you go out to dinner with friends or family test out your abilities to influence. Try to convince everyone to choose the restaurant you prefer. What happens?

Take a look at this article and improve your communication skills:

How to Be Influential and Gain Respect at Work

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8. Build Quality Relationships and Manage Office Politics

As you transition to a new career and begin working in a new role, having and continuing to build quality relationships is essential to support all aspects of your career growth and productivity.

Knowing when and how to have difficult conversations in a productive manner is an essential skill to achieve both personal and professional goals. Conflict between people are inevitable so the ability to resolve emotional responses is a key life skill to have.

These conflict management skills will be useful for you:

Conflict Management Styles for Effective Communication at Work

Summing It Up

This ultimate work skills list will help you to change careers and thrive in your next role.

It’s important to recognize your emotions associated with change. Otherwise, we’ll continue to carry forward the same mindset to our next career and it will rear its ugliness again if left uncoached.

Always keep the ultimate work skills list in your pocket:

  • Build your patience muscle
  • Manage and grow with each rejection
  • Exercise self-approval and notice your confidence level
  • Listen deeply and hone your observation skills
  • Be open to experiment
  • Think critically, be a self-starter, and take initiative
  • Ability to influence without authority
  • Build quality relationships and manage office politics

Committing yourself to these work skills will help you ease the jitters of your career change and continue to build the career skills necessary in any professional environment in our changing world of work.

What career changes are you working on, tiny or big? Notice your emotions and thoughts as you address this change. From the work skills list, choose one that resonates with you the most and apply one aspect of that skill to your career change and your new career. What do you notice?

There’s no right or wrong way to approach your career change. Do what feels natural to you. Be creative and open to experiment.

More Resources About Essential Work Skills

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] University of Exeter: The Change Curve
[2] Steven Pressfield’s book: Do the Work: Overcoming Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way
[3] Febritius and Hagermann’s Book: The Leading Brain: Neuroscience Hacks to Work Smarter, Better, Happier
[4] National Sleep Foundation: How Lack of Sleep Impacts Cognitive Performance and Focus
[5] National Center for Biotechnology Information: Emotional Responses to Interpersonal Rejection

More by this author

Ami Au-Yeung

Workplace Strategist | Career Coach | Workshop Facilitator | Writer | Speaker | Past Business Professor

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Published on October 19, 2020

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

27 Strategies to Achieve Your Goals Fast

As a performance coach and expert in the psychology of productivity for over 25 years, I have used every tool in the book to teach people how to achieve their goals by breaking through their barriers, getting out of their heads, and getting into their productive flow.

Here are my favorite tools and techniques to keep you on the path towards achieving your goals and dreams.

1. Accountability

Your word is your wand. It’s the source of your power. What you say, what you commit to, and what you follow through on creates confidence in your own ability to create what you want in the world.

However, every time you go back on what you said you were going to do, it weakens your inner power. Your subconscious mind keeps track of what you promise. It records each time you don’t follow through with your commitments and unconsciously reduces your power to create. Keep your word and keep your power!

2. Time Excuse Diet

The fastest way to achieve your goals is to stop using time as an excuse for why you’re not getting things done. Stop seeing time as your enemy, and start seeing time as your most valuable ally. Picture yourself as the source of time, and decide where you want to use it and where not to.

3. Gratitude

The attitude of gratitude changes everything. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we connect to the most important things in our life, which floods our system with positive chemicals and releases joy, euphoria, and excitement.

Start by making a list of the things and people you are most grateful for in this moment. Every morning, list the 5 things you are grateful for that day.

4. 1% Improvement

To maintain momentum and motivation, focus on getting 1% better per day. Don’t overwhelm yourself with unrealistic goals. Let go of perfection and focus on progress. Anyone can improve by 1%. After a month, you’ll be 30% better. After 3 months you will be 100% better without nearly as much effort as you think.

5. Nature Breaks

When you take a break, look around you. If you don’t see any plants, trees, or blue sky, then you need to get outside. Being in nature naturally resets your mental state to a state of natural wellbeing.

Wayne Dyer famously said, “there’s nothing to do in nature. Nature will do you.” Take 5-10 minutes to be in nature with no expectations, and you will feel the results immediately.

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6. Music

Songs and sounds that motivate you have been shown to increase your brain’s ability to learn, be creative, and be motivated. This is especially true of classical music.

Put music on during mundane tasks to help you get through the day. Relaxing music in the evening can help you rest and recover better. Meditation music can help you reach deeper levels of focus and calm. In short, a bit of pleasant music can make nearly any situation better and more productive.

7. Hypnosis

Subconscious suggestion while in a relaxed state is the fastest way to program your mind for what you truly want. The subconscious mind is the hard drive of everything we do. A good way to start self-hypnosis is to close your eyes in a comfortable seated position, take a few deep breaths, and then put on audio conditioning or hypnosis audio.

8. Relational Communication

When having trouble communicating, remember this: the meaning of communication is the response you get.

When you’re communicating something important, pay attention to the way the other person responds. If they’re not responding the way you expected, it’s your responsibility to continue the communication cycle until they understand it the way you intended. Don’t make the other person responsible for how they’ll understand your message.

9. Laughter

Creating laughter in difficult situations stops us from immediately going into worry, doubt, and fear. Laughter is like the jamming system of our mental radar that gives us space to observe and learn from our situation.

When encountering a problem or difficulty, repeat out loud to yourself, “I laugh at this current situation. I can laugh at how bad this is.” Get your brain focused on laughter and amusement. It prevents the mental dominoes from falling down the wrong path by putting your mind into a state of curiosity so it becomes open to learning from the situation.

10. Time Blocking

If it’s important, you need to calendar it. Make sure you block out time for what’s most important in your day. This ensures at the end of the day that the essential things are done and distractions don’t rule your world. I use Outlook to organize my calendar appointments and Calendly to make it easier for people to book themselves on my calendar.

Find out more about time blocking: Time Blocking for Productivity (A Complete Guide)

11. Power Naps

One of my favorite strategies for achieving your goals fast is taking a nap. Research shows that people who take naps are more productive. A regular nap for 20 minutes per day can increase your performance and productivity by 10-30%.

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A great way to ensure a good power nap is by using an eye mask with noise-canceling headphones. For an extra boost, drink a cup of coffee just before you begin your nap. It sounds counterintuitive, but it takes the caffeine about 20 minutes to kick in and it will help you wake up feeling extra energetic.

Learn more about power nap: How to Power Nap for Maximum Benefits

12. 4-7-8 Breathing

When you’re stressed out or redlining in your day, this ancient Vedic breathing technique will instantly calm your last nerves. Start by inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, and exhale through your mouth making a whoosh sound for 8 seconds. A quick 3 rounds of this technique will bring you down from even the most stressful situations in your day so you can get back to being productive.

13. Circle of Excellence

Here’s a quick way to shift yourself into a high-performance mindset: think about a time when you felt super confident and unstoppable. Re-live that memory. Place that memory in an imaginary circle in front of you on the floor. Once it’s there, step into the circle and the memory.

Imagine yourself being transported back to it, feeling it come in through your toes all the way to the top of your head, and imagine yourself looking through your own eyes as if you are inside of that memory now. Seeing what you’re seeing, hearing what you’re hearing, and feeling what your feeling, be in the memory now. Feel the motivation and confidence rise in your body. Activate that positive feeling in this very moment.

14. Be of Service

Helping others is one of the most relevant things we can do today to be happier, more grateful, and more motivated. Giving to others is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves psychologically. It releases a huge amount of positive chemicals and hormones that make us feel great. It also helps us put life in perspective. The happiest and most productive people are those who feel they are being of service.

15. Visualization

This is one of my favorite tools to help you create your ideal future. Take a few minutes to visualize how you want your life to be. This will help you get there much faster.

Studies with athletes have shown clearly that the more you practice any action in your mind, the quicker it becomes a reality. Your subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between visualization and doing the actual thing. This might be the most powerful free technique of all time, so use it as often as possible!

Start trying these 13 Visualization Techniques to Help You Reach Your Goals.

16. Head-Heart-Body

This exercise is the fastest way to check your mind, emotion, and physical well-being. It is a lot like checking the gauges on your car. The technique is simple—close your eyes, focus on your head, and notice what thoughts you’re having.

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Take a deep breath. Focus on your heart. Notice what mood or emotion you’re having. Take another breath. Focus on your diaphragm. Notice the sensations in your physical body. Take one more deep breath and ask the question, “What am I needing right now?” Write down the answer your mind gives you. This is a great technique to use midday or right before important decisions or activities.

17. Technology Time-Out

In our 24/7 hyper-connected world, we are constantly connected to our devices. This “always-on” lifestyle is hard on our bodies and mind. Putting your devices down a few times a day can help you reset and recharge. Take a few 10-minute “technology time-outs” each day and see how much better you feel by the end of the day.

18. Timefulness

Be “timeful” by being mindful of your relationship with time and being intentional with how you use your time. Stop blaming time and start using it. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of your life by knowing that you are 100% in control of your time—you are the source of time.

19. Time Frame Exercise

Changing the time frame in which you view a situation alters the way your brain views the content, often changing it from potentially negative to positive. It can be easy to get overwhelmed when you are focusing all your energy on this moment in time. If you take a moment to close your eyes and expand your time view from this moment into the future, it instantly changes the context which also changes the meaning of the content.

Open up time a bit in your mind and see how the situation could play out this month, year, or over a lifetime. The biggest upsets in life often turn out to be the most positive for us long term or, at least, have a less negative impact on us than we think.

20. Journaling

Writing down your thoughts has a profound effect on integrating the right and left sides of the brain. Research shows that when you write things down, you allow clarity and insights to come through simply by putting your thoughts and emotions on paper. Journaling allows you to name the emotions and things bothering you, and this process alone can help you neutralize and settle your thoughts. Name it to tame it.

21. Schedule Everything

Schedules allow for spontaneity. It sounds counterintuitive, but research shows the more organized your calendar is, the more flexible you can be. Knowing what you have to accomplish frees your mind to allow for spontaneous activity.

The lack of scheduling creates chaos in the mind. The calendar gets it out of your mind and frees up more cognitive space. It also gives us a GPS for what we need to do each day. Schedule all personal activities, not just work.

22. Get Better Sleep

Sleep is the master tool for recovery. Sleeping in a dark, quiet, cool room is the key to recovery and sleep. I personally use a Chillipad to keep my blanket temperature around 65 degrees. This gives me incredibly restful sleep.

23. The 5-Second Rule

This momentum technique from Mel Robbins is perfect for when you know you have something to do but don’t want to do it. Count down from 5 to1, and then start the activity. This countdown gives you the mental momentum to do things at that moment. Give yourself a countdown out loud whenever you find it hard to start a task and at the end of the count, you will be in action.

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24. The Accountability Mirror

This daily guidance technique keeps you focused on your goals. Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “did I accomplish what I set out to accomplish today?” If you didn’t, be brutally honest about why you did not accomplish it, commit to fixing the issue, and do it the next day.

25. Stop, Start, Change

This is a super-effective 30-second therapy. Any issue you have or any place where you are stuck, stopped, or struggling, ask yourself, “what should I stop doing right now,” then “what should I start doing right now”, and “what should I change that I’m doing right now?”

26. The Magic Question

Here it is, the big question: “what am I pretending not to know?” When your brain is stuck and frozen or you feel like you don’t know what to do, ask yourself what you are pretending not to know about the current situation. It inverts the way your brain is processing the question. It penetrates your mind in a different way unlocking new possibilities.

The brain has a certain sequence to answer most questions. This question flips that sequence upside down, so your brain is forced to look at it differently. Use this question when you are ready for powerful changes.

27. Self-Compassion

One of the greatest things you can do to improve your productivity and maintain high-performance levels in your work or in whatever you do is to practice the techniques of being there for yourself. This means being mindful and paying attention to the way you talk to yourself when you encounter failures and setbacks, especially ones that feel as if they are your fault.

The key is to use the same kind of self-talk as you would use with a friend if they were in a similar situation. Speak to yourself with warmth and kindness. Then, recognize the common humanity of the situation—that you are not alone and there are many people out there experiencing exactly what you are right now.

Lastly, stay mindful of how you are talking to yourself and don’t overidentify or dissociate from the situation. “Compassionate productivity” is the most effective way to support yourself in these difficult times.[1] It’s not about being “soft” or going easy on yourself. It’s about being there for yourself in a supportive way, so you can recuperate and get back in the game in an even more productive way.

Try these 13 Simple Habits to Cultivate Self-Compassion.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to achieve your goals requires implementing some techniques and making use of some tools to help you on your path towards success. These 27 strategies are good starting points to jumpstart your journey towards achieving your dreams.

More Tips on How to Achieve Your Goals

Featured photo credit: Doran Erickson via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Steven Griffith: Compassionate Productivity

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