I get it. Even though the idea of working somewhere else doing something else is really exciting, the process of getting there is, well, not so fun. Setting up informational interviews? Reconnecting with old co-workers? Searching online for salary data? I know you'd rather be watching Modern Family or unplugging the fridge, pulling it out and vacumming behind it. (A task completed only by people in job transition, by the way).
Since you may already be working full-time and have other things going on in your life, like family, friends, sports and onerous cleaning tasks, it can be hard to fit in the job change tasks. You might be tempted to set a few vague goals and hope you get to them.
You may be a "go with the flow" type person who keeps a fluid (or non-existent) calendar and task list. But if you want to get any traction with changing jobs, you need to get energized, get organized and set specific deadlines for yourself.
I've coached people through job and career changes for the last nine years, and I can honestly say that every single person who was successful were able to:
1. Get Energized
It's time to be honest and acknowledge that changing jobs is going to take a concerted effort on your part. You don't necessarily have to devote 40 hours a week to it, but you need to commit energy and time, possibly over many months.
Basically you need to have a pep rally for yourself and get into the mindset of "Yeah, I'm gonna do this!" There's a lot of work ahead so take the time to get very clear about why you want a change, how changing jobs will make your life much, much better, and then decide to become active and assertive about accomplishing it.
2. Get Organized
Finding a new job is a multi-step process involving research, networking, and possibly a resume overhaul. Becoming organized will help you make the most efficient use of your limited time. You'll want to decide on your top priorities, create an action plan and decide on a system for capturing and tracking information.
You'll also want to decide when you're going to work on job change tasks. Will it work best for you to spend an hour every night on it after work, or five hours over the weekend, or what? Set appointments with yourself and put them on your calendar.
Even if you wing it in most other areas of your life, commit to an organized job transition plan! You're much more likely to stick with the process when you are focused and directed.
3. Set Specific Deadlines
Especially if you're employed right now, it's hard to stay motivated to do what it takes to change jobs if you don't feel a certain sense of urgency. For many people, deadlines are critical to them getting things done.
Also, it's easy to stay in analysis and research mode for a long time and put off doing some of the more intimidating job change tasks. This is really when deadlines become essential.
First decide when you want to start your new job or career. Even though you aren't in control of many of the parts of the process, setting a goal start date will help you stay focused. Do you want to start your new gig in three months? Two years? Decide now.
Look at the action plan you created and identify the first small step. Decide when you'll get that step done and plan the time on your calendar. Create priorities for the upcoming week and then commit to looking at your plan and your calendar each week until you're in your new job.
You won't know all your action steps yet, and that's OK. You just need to know the first few and then depending on what you discover through those steps you'll be able to determine the next few.
Don't worry if you need to adjust your deadlines - the key is to always have them and be working towards them. If there's no deadline, there's no urgency, and if you don't feel urgency, you won't take action.
Also I encourage you to team up with at least one other person and check in weekly with your (or each other's) plans and progress. Reporting in to someone helps you stick with your plan.
For many people, changing jobs is a doable goal that's within reach. There's a lot to do, but when you're focused and organized you can make it happen.
What else do you think is important for job-changers to do to stay motivated and focused?