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Transitioning to a new career – avoid my mistakes

Never have I been more excited than when I made the decision to leave what some would describe as a “cushy city office job” to work in my sister’s back garden.

I had been needing a change for a while but was too afraid to admit it. And I thought that if I did admit it to myself, I was going to have to look for a new job, and that just seemed all too hard.

Then one day, my sister called and offered me a job. She stressed it was going to be very different to commuting to the city and working in a big office every day. Instead, my new office would be a five-minute commute to her “shedquarters” in the back garden with just her and two doggie assistants for company.

“Are you serious?” my inner voice was asking. “Why the hell would I turn this down?” But I played it cool and told her I’d think about it! Too late, the decision was made there and then. Six weeks later, I packed up my CBD desk for the last time and headed out the door. There was some sadness of course, but also a similar feeling to that of finishing high school and knowing I was free!

Unfortunately, freedom is not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to have an extra two hours in my day now that I don’t need to commute, but sometimes not having that structure can make motivation hard to come by.

With that said, here are my three biggest mistakes and advice on how to avoid them.

MISTAKE one

Failure to plan. I thought I did – I mean, I considered all the positive things: I could walk to work; I could work from home sometimes; the “shedquarters” is right next to the pool so I could do laps at lunchtime; my husband and I wouldn’t have to fight over the car etc. What I failed to do, was consider how I would divide my time between work and personal; how I would still allocate some time to my own side hustle and also switch off and spend time on myself.

My advice. Take the time to consider all the impacts of a career change. Work out a plan that captures your goals and how you will achieve them. When it comes to making the most of each day, allocate your time into buckets based on your priorities – work, chores, fitness, family, relaxation etc. Most importantly, schedule some balance in your life, and then stick to it!

MISTAKE TWO

Wrong seat at the table. If you’re like me, your office environment will influence how you feel and how productive you are at work. When starting a new job or switching to a home office, make sure you set up your office/desk space for optimal performance. Again, I thought I had done this. I got a new white corner desk, decorated it with pretty folders, got some new stationery and a laptop stand and monitor, and thought I was ready to go!

Wrong! I hadn’t actually sat at the desk until the week before I was officially starting the new job. I sat down to set up my new email address and try to get a little bit ahead, only to find that when I sat in the office chair the sun was directly in my eyes. Not only that, but if I closed the blind to block out the sun, it was far too dark, and I had to turn on lights and lamps. While my desk looked Instagrammable, it wasn’t practical.

After only a couple of weeks, during which I avoided working from home knowing it was going to be a problem, I had to relocate my office to a different room with more space where lighting and windows wasn’t a problem. I can tell you honestly that this was not an easy task, and even as I write this I’m looking at the printer which is still on the floor not plugged in!

My advice. Don’t just set things up to look pretty. Make sure your work space is functional and comfortable as well. This applies even if you’re starting work in a new office. If you’ve inherited a past employees stationery draw and Bobble Head collection, ditch it quick and set up your space so that feels good and works well with everything in arms reach. Not sure how best to do this? Check out our free guide to creating the perfect office environment, including steps on getting set up.

MISTAKE THREE

You don’t know everything. Well I don’t anyway. I knew this new role was going to be very different to my previous job, but I was confident my skills would translate well and it would be easy to pick up. Perhaps I was too confident.

I won’t lie, I had some serious down days. At times I felt so completely out of my league I thought it was one giant mistake. I wasn’t picking things up as quickly as I had hoped and was struggling to find the right track.

My advice. Well, this one is easy to fix. Attitude is absolutely everything. I reminded myself, after a little berating from my husband, that I had never done this before and that it was a huge, but exciting, learning curve.

From that day, I got to learning. I signed up for courses, I read books, I watched webinars, I listened to podcasts, I tapped into my network, anything I could think of to get ahead and learn what I needed to know.

I’m still learning and probably always will be, but now I know that’s how it’s meant to be.

These three lessons remind us that starting any new venture is exciting but also a little scary. Remember, the grass is greener where you water it!

Click here to download a free planner so you can avoid making my mistakes!


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