Changing Careers Without Losing Your Mind
Managing Career Change on Top of  Work & Personal Responsibilities

One of the biggest obstacles you’ll face as you endeavor to change careers is managing the transition on top of your work and personal responsibilities.

This challenge can feel quite overwhelming.  Unfortunately, it prevents many people from even starting the process of launching a career transition – leaving them stuck in the wrong job and the wrong career.

Orchestrating a career change while working full-time and managing your personal life is indeed very challenging.  The good news is it is also very doable.  The key is to break the process down into simple and manageable action steps. 

In this career success guide, I present winning strategies for managing a successful career transition.  Each section contains a powerful question for you to ask yourself.  Answer these questions honestly and not only will they assist you with a successful career transition – they can powerfully elevate the quality of your entire life! 

The tactics I outline in this guide include:

  • Success Strategy One: Make It a Priority
  • Success Strategy Two: Make the Time


These strategies are applicable to other situations as well.  The principles are transferable and can be used to help you achieve any big goal you’re striving for. 

I have used these specific strategies myself.  For example, these are the steps I followed years ago to launch my coaching practice while simultaneously working in a very demanding full-time job.  I was working over sixty hours a week with a demanding boss and a long commute.  I used these very strategies to help me get my coaching practice off the ground despite the many constraints on my time and energy.     

Let’s begin with success strategy number one:  Make It a Priority.

Success Strategy One:  Make it a Priority

It’s temptingly easy to “let life get in the way” when we’re facing a daunting task or wanting to create big changes in our life.  Unfortunately, when we do this we’re letting the busyness of life prevent us from achieving our dreams.  For many of us, this is a familiar and comfortable default defense mechanism.

It reminds me of when I was in graduate school and my classmates and I used to laugh that our apartments were always cleanest right before a big exam.  We all used the same avoidance technique of housework to sidestep the anxiety and pressure of studying.

“Busyness” can have formidable power over us.  Checking tasks off our daily to do list feels good.  However, this is a false sense of comfort for sure.  We’re using small-scale, unimportant tasks to avoid making large-scale changes that would elevate the overall quality of our life both now and in the future.

For example, my clients tell me they use the following chores and tasks to avoid making big changes in their life:

  • Cleaning the House
  • Doing Laundry
  • Mowing the Lawn
  • and, My Personal Favorite – Dusting Behind the Refrigerator!


Have you ever fallen in this trap of occupying your time and mind with mundane chores to avoid doing something you didn’t want to face up to?  I think we all have.  Why do we do this?  It’s because these rote chores give us a sense of control.  They make us feel like we’re actually accomplishing something.  When you are working on a big project, sometimes you don’t see results immediately.  Whereas, these everyday chores are easy to accomplish and come with the instant reward of a job well done.

For example, one of my former clients was in the process of writing his dissertation for his Ph.D.  This is a long, slow process for sure.  He would describe how he felt when he was home alone, facing the blank computer screen attempting to start another chapter.  He said he would go outside and mow the lawn simply because he could see the immediate results of his efforts and it made him feel like he was accomplishing something. 

It is ok to use these avoidance techniques to a limited degree.  Sometimes they can effectively shake you out of a rut and reinvigorate your creative thinking so you return to the project at hand with a renewed sense of energy.  The problem comes in when you let the busyness of life completely side-track you from moving forward with your higher-level goals. 

Let’s put this into perspective.  Ask yourself the following powerful question:

When I say “Yes” to the busyness of life, what am I saying “No” to?


If you want to make a career transition, but are avoiding it altogether, chances are you are saying “No” to having a job that makes you feel good.  You are saying “No” to a career you love.  In essence, you are saying “No” to yourself and your dreams. 

Is this acceptable?  I think not!

Take my client Lauren, for example.  Lauren is an attorney in Chicago.  She had been thinking about making a career change for over five years.  However, she was letting the busyness of life get in the way of affecting this change.  She hired me to help her finally make some progress

When she and I had a forthright conversation about what had been blocking her for five years, she had a realization.  She said:

“I’m afraid to focus in earnest on my career transition because I’m afraid I
will fail.  I’m afraid I will fail in finding a new job.  And, even if I did manage to land a new job, I’m afraid I would fail miserably at it.”

When I probed further, she had the following “ah hah” moment:

“In actuality, my chances of failure are much higher if I stay where I am.  I’m currently in a job that feels like ‘running to stand still’ and is a complete mismatch for my strengths.  I’ve already received numerous warnings from my manager about my performance.  I know I cannot contribute to the best of my ability in this position because it doesn’t fit who I am.”

This realization was the impetus she needed to focus on her career transition in earnest.  Within three weeks, she had two job interviews.  One of these resulted in a fabulous job offer which she accepted!  That’s the power of shifting your mindset and making yourself a priority.

Here’s your opportunity to answer the powerful question:

When I say “Yes” to the busyness of life, what am I saying “No” to?

(Before moving on to the next strategy, take 30 seconds to record your answer here)






Success Strategy Two:  Make the Time

Implementing an effective career transition strategy takes work.  You need to allocate at least two hours each week to the process.  Ideally, focus on it at least a little bit every day to build positive momentum.  This can mean as little as 15 minutes a day.  As I discussed in the career success guide {LINK} “How to Get the Most Out of this Program,” you can make significant progress in as little as 15 minutes a day. 

Working on your career transition for a few minutes each day allows you to build traction with your efforts.  This consistent, committed action keeps you focused on your overall mission.  You don’t lose time by having to pick up where you left off the week before.  Your consistent efforts will create forward momentum.

I recommend you set your own personal “office hours” to work on your career transition.  That way, you know exactly when you’ll be working on it each day and can plan your schedule accordingly.  If you don’t proactively schedule your office hours, other priorities will take over and crowd out this important work.  This is a personal commitment you make to yourself so you can achieve the career fulfillment you desire.  If you haven’t done so already, please take out your calendar and schedule your career transition office hours.

You may be wondering how you’re going to fit in your office hours on top of everything else you have to do.  The answer is – you may have to take some things off your plate.  That is, at least temporarily.  No one can do it all at once, and you shouldn’t try to force yourself to.  It’s ok to reduce some of your activities and commitments while you orchestrate your next career move. 

For example, Jamie is a telecommunications executive in Los Angeles.  She was having difficulty keeping her weekly job search office hours.  To examine what was going on, we talked through her typical week. 

Jamie is an avid salsa dancer.  She goes out dancing every Friday night.  This activity is a very important stress reliever for her and she was not willing to temporarily give it up during her career transition.

So I asked for a viable alternative.  She came up with the following plan:

“I will continue to go out dancing every Friday night.  But I’ll arrive at the club two hours earlier than usual and leave for home two hours earlier.  Therefore, I can wake up early on Saturday morning and focus on my job search.  I will also abstain from alcohol while I’m out so I’ll have more energy, focus and clarity to put into my job search activities on the weekend and into the coming week.”   

Key to Jamie’s acceptance of this plan was the knowledge she only had to make these changes for a limited amount of time.  She would much rather give some things up temporarily in order to reach her overall career transition goal.  She knew once she was in a better job, her whole life would improve. 

To help you reach your current career objective, I invite you to ask yourself the following powerful question:

What activity can I temporarily take off my plate (or modify) so
I can have the time and energy to achieve my goal?

Grant yourself permission to temporarily take some things off your priority list.  Who knows, as a result of this exercise, you may even decide to remove some items from your to do list permanently.

Specific Steps to “Make the Time”

Here are some specific action steps to help you make time for your career transition.  Each step will allow you to have more ease and less frustration in your daily life.

The three steps are:

  • Automate
  • Delegate
  • Let Go


Each step allows you to remove items from your never-ending to do list.  Once you eliminate these “time stealers,” you’ll have more time and energy to focus on what’s really important to you – in both your personal and professional life.

Watch for any feelings of resistance that pop up as you read these tips.  To truly have more ease and less frustration, you’ll need to open your mind to new ways of doing things. 

Do not let a knee-jerk compulsion to cling to outdated habits prevent you from achieving your professional goals.  Most of these time savers are free, while others require a small cash outlay.  Any required financial investment for these tactics is quite small in comparison to the substantial savings of time and energy. 

You can automate, delegate and let go of time-wasting tasks in both your personal and work life.  I provide a few examples under each of the three categories.  These examples are for illustration purposes only and are not meant to be suggestions for your life because, of course, I don’t know the specifics of your unique situation. 

Please do not dismiss these ideas out-of-hand simply because you feel they are not a match for you.  Rather, keep an open mind and use them as idea-sparkers to help you identify your own, customized tactics.  Get creative with it and you’ll soon find yourself reaping the rewards of replenished time and energy.  


Step One:  Automate

This means building in systems so tasks get done automatically.  What’s better than letting a task take care of itself?! 

Automation Examples:   

  • Schedule all of your regular monthly bills to be paid automatically online (if there is one bill you still want to pay the old-fashioned way, automating all others will still save a considerable amount of time).
  • Program your computer to automatically run regular file backups and virus scans rather than performing them manually.
  • Get a “Roomba” robotic vacuum and program it to clean your carpets and floors while you’re out (I have one and absolutely love it – I estimate it saves me one full hour a week).


Step Two:  Delegate

This, of course, means assigning the task to someone else.  Got to love that! 

Delegation Examples:  

  • Hire a service to clean your home (even if it’s once per month, the time and energy saved will be worth it).
  • Delegate your grocery shopping to a grocery delivery service.
  • Have your weekly laundry done by a laundry service and/or get your car cleaned by an auto detailer rather than doing these mundane and repetitive tasks yourself.


Step Three:  Let Go

We have all fallen into the trap of continuing to do things just because we’ve always done them in the past.  But when we really think about it, we realize it is safe – and beneficial – to let some things go.

Letting Go Examples:  

  • Let go of your tendency to say “yes” every time you’re asked to volunteer on a project – this is your opportunity to exercise your “no thank you” muscle.
  • Let go of subscriptions to publications – both online and offline that you don’t read.
  • Let go of perfectionism – for example – do the throw pillows on your couch have to be completely straight all the time? (This is an example from one of my clients. She estimated she spent ten minutes a day lining up cushions.)


If you think hard and are completely honest with yourself, I bet you can identify at least one thing to automate, one thing to delegate and one thing to let go of. 

Right now, take 60 seconds to identify one item in each category.  These can be things from either your work or personal life.  I’ve included room for three items under each category because you’ll probably come up with more than a few ideas.  But, at a bare minimum, identify at least one thing in each category.  I know you can do it!


I will Automate:

            1.)  _______________________________________________________


            2.)  _______________________________________________________


            3.)  _______________________________________________________



I will Delegate:


            1.)  _______________________________________________________


            2.)  _______________________________________________________


            3.)  _______________________________________________________


I will Let Go of:


            1.)  _______________________________________________________


            2.)  _______________________________________________________


            3.)  _______________________________________________________


Once you identify your items, make plans to implement them this week.  And once you do, you’ll have more time in your schedule to allocate to your career transition office hours.  No more excuses! 


Powerful Questions Recap

Use these steps to break through the barriers to success you’re experiencing with your career transition – both internal and external.  You can also apply this same methodology to any big goal you set out to achieve.  Keep this guide close and refer to it in the future when you’re working on making other dreams in your life come true.  

But for now, keep focused on your career goals!  Use these powerful questions as tools to get you where you want to go.  Take five minutes right now to answer these questions. 

Question One:
When I say “Yes” to the busyness of life, what am I saying “No” to?


I am saying “No” to: 





Question Two:
What activity will I temporarily take off my plate (or modify) so
I can have the time and energy to achieve my goal?


I will temporarily take off my plate:  





As I mentioned earlier, answer these questions honestly and they can literally transform your life!  So really – take five minutes right now to answer them. 

If you feel you’d like assistance with managing your career transition on top of your work and personal responsibilities, I invite you to schedule a one-on-one coaching session with me. 

Click here to schedule your personal coaching session.

Now, let’s move on to your Career Success Guide to Your Overwhelm-Free Career Transition.


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