Q: Where do I find the time and energy to change my career?

Some people don’t give their mental energy enough credit.

Whether you are currently:

  • At a job that no longer satisfies your needs
  • Looking to move yourself into another industry to better your career
  • Thinking of starting your own business

Your mental energy is key in finding the time and space to make that next career change.

If you are thinking that it is impossible to try and conquer this task while holding down a full-time job that is draining what energy you have left, that is understandable.

BUT! If you’re serious about changing careers, you need to make finding the time to create that extra energy to sustain yourself through your upcoming career transition. You need to make it a priority to ease that mental stress, so you can focus on more important paths – like your career change.

Here are 3 things you can do to jump start your energy to drive you to find that illusive extra time and energy to put your career plans into motion:

1. Start your day by putting yourself first.

Make the mind switch to focus on yourself first. It sounds simple. But, it won’t feel as simple as it sounds until you begin to implement this switch on a daily basis. This will help you not only get more done, but it will also help you get the ball rolling on your career change and continue the momentum you need to push you to follow through with your career transition.

Example: Our client, Eric, began waking up 30 minutes earlier to acclimate to the morning and kick-start his career transition by taking that extra time and energy in the morning to identify companies that he wanted to work with in his next career. The extra homework that he did in the early morning hours led him to network with the people he needed to in the organizations he was hoping to work at, as well as several job offers.

2. Re-evaluate your diet and replace the “energy-depleting” foods with healthier options

You can start by taking 15 minutes out of your day to write down your meals and snacks from the day. Choose one or two things that have the highest impact on your productivity. Find out which foods slow you down & consume less of them. Take this task in small steps, you don’t want to completely shock your body.

Example: Cutting out carbs, sugars, and soda will clean up your diet and improve your energy levels. You can replace those foods with fruits and vegetables and start drinking tea or sparkling water to fulfill those voids.

3. Take small pieces of your life and put them on auto-pilot

Take out the energy and time suck that small activities such as decision-making about some of your daily activities (insignificant decisions like what to eat for breakfast, when to do your household chores, grocery shopping, etc.) take away from you during the day. You may not know it, but the energy that you spend making these small decisions throughout your day is draining you, slowly.

You can try leaving the insignificant decisions for the end of the day or create a basic routine with easy meals to make for the week. Be more efficient by creating systems of where you spend your time.

Example: Make a decision to eat the same thing every single time for 6-12 weeks. Use that extra mental energy from during those 6-12 weeks to focus on your career change. You want to eliminate the daily irritations to add energy, willpower, decision-making power to your career change.

Try to layer one of these 3 things into your life now. Slowly create that extra time and energy for yourself to get that extra leg up on your career change.

Take care of yourself mentally and physically and you will be able to sustain yourself throughout your career change.

If you’re serious about it, it is worth it.

Transcript from Episode

Scott Barlow: This is Scott Anthony Barlow and you are listening to Happen to Your Career. This is the show that helps you figure out what work fits you by exploring other’s stories. We bring on all kinds of experts like Emilie Wapnick who helps people that have more than one true calling. Or people that have amazing stories like Jerrad Shivers that found his ideal job by learning his strengths. These people are just like you. They have gone from where they are to what they really want to be doing.

Today we have so much fun stuff. This is one of the things that I’d say is one of the bigger stopping points we haven’t spent a lot of time on in 172 episodes. We are already at 172 which blows me away. Thank you so much for supporting the show, for listening, emailing us, going and checking out our email list, and the great resources we’ve put together over 4 years. Those have all been inspired by your questions and what you need. Keep it coming! The same goes for this episode.

We have noticed a few things through working with thousands of people through myself and my company. Today we are going to talk about one thing that doesn’t get mentioned but is a huge need. We are going to dive into how to be able to have the energy so you can find the time to make a big career change. We will also talk about why that energy is sometimes elusive and where it is going and how to get it back or make sure it never leaves. We will go into different ways you can do it right now. These are easy steps we have used with clients to help them make the marathon trip that is career change actually happening. When we look at career change it is a marathon and not a sprint. It doesn’t happen in a week or two but usually closer to months in some cases, or a majority of cases it is spread over multiple months. When you are making that change it requires a different approach than just resume tactics. Here are a few different strategies that will make it easier for you, but not magic pill stuff. I’m more interested in allowing you to be able to sustain in making the change so it happens.

It is just me today. I want to cover with you some of the ways you can do this right now. I mentioned it earlier, but so many people come to us, maybe even you, and know you need to make a change and are planning on it. Maybe you’ve been working on it but you consistently find that you don’t have the energy or the time to do it. You are at your job and maybe you love that job but it consumes a bunch of you and you don’t feel like you have a lot left to work on a career change. Maybe it’s the opposite and that job is draining you because you aren’t excited. It is taking everything from you. That is pushing you over the edge. When you get off work you aren’t excited to do something that is extra.

Whatever situation we find that if you do not consistently have the energy and aren’t intentionally taking steps to have energy the career change doesn’t happen or it is significantly slowed down. It could be halved or quartered. I don’t see a lot of, or any honestly, career coaches talking about this. I see career coaches focused on how to get your resume through auto-tracking systems instead of focusing on how you sustain the long journey of the change.

I want to go over three main ways you can do this. Each of these ways are ways I have personally used and used with clients. They aren’t always easy to do, like much of what we teach and much of the stuff we talk about with guests. It’s not always easy but worth it. I want to help make it even easier for you.

Let’s break some of it down.

The first thing that I want you to begin doing is going to sound so simple, but it is not simple until you build it into a routine. Start the day by putting yourself first.

There are a lot of different reasons behind this. This could be a powerful mindset switch. Let me explain. If you have determined that you aren’t interested in impeding a large chunk of your life at your current job it will be important and empowering to focus on yourself first. When you get in the office and you have a ton of needs waiting – like your boss wanting the latest report, email to check, reports, and other deadlines you’ve forgotten – it gets mind numbing. When you get home you don’t want to do anything else. You’ve heard Eric, and Jerrod, and other shows we can link, but with both of them we worked on how to start off your day when you are the freshest and have the most energy to work on the things that will get you where you want to go before the pressures hit and before you’ve made it to the office and others are asking things of you. Before you deplete your energy.

Start when you are at your freshest and give to yourself first. I firmly believe in this. It will scare most of us because most of us are people-pleasers and we give and give to other people. It can be hard to put yourself first. I have found that the times where I have done this in any life change, but especially career changes, of which I’ve made many, the times I’ve done this went so much smoother. When I wake up and I am one of my first priorities, and am working on things that will move me forward to where I want to be, there are many immediate and by-product benefits.

The first thing is that your energy isn’t depleted. You are at a higher level of focus. Maybe you need to wake up for forty minutes to an hour which is fine. Take your situation into account, but once you are up and settled in then you will find that you are going to be able to put a different amount of energy and head space toward this. I mentioned Eric earlier, he was getting up a little earlier than he normally would, by about half an hour, which would allow him to acclimate and then spend time working on identifying different companies he wanted to contact to build relationships. He ended up interacting with about thirty different companies. That was huge because he built a ton of relationships that led to job offers. That was really cool. His secret was doing what he could during the mornings when he was at his best before the energy depleted because he had a demanding job that was taking a lot.

When you are putting yourself first it will allow you to build momentum. I know when I was doing this, and Eric said the same, I would feel accomplished. I would do this work at the beginning, finishing an application or identifying a couple people to contact later, or I would finish all my prep work so on my lunch hour I could make a couple calls. Whatever it happened to be I felt very accomplished. A lot of our clients describe the same feeling like I feel like I’ve got a ton done. You feel good walking into work and it ironically makes your work day better. Which allows you to have a little energy left. These all feed on each other. It is easier to do the same thing they next day. When you’ve done it for two weeks it starts to become a part of your routine. When you’ve done it for that period of time you start seeing benefits from it. You are getting more done and building the momentum that makes you feel more positive about this marathon that the job search and career change can be.

That is thing one. Make it a mindset switch to put yourself first and then the simple action is to start the day. Even if you aren’t a morning person. Do it even for thirty minutes. Maybe you just get up fifteen minutes early and work on something for yourself as you make the career change. It’ll be huge for you. This is the same thing I did later when I was working on building a side business. I started taking it to extremes and getting up fifteen minutes earlier every week. It was about 3:55 a.m. to find more time and invest more of my energy into myself. That is another example. The easiest way to start is go the bed fifteen minutes earlier and get up fifteen minutes earlier. That is step one.

The next piece after you have done that for a few days and mastered getting up build in the piece where you are taking the time to do something for yourself first. If it is career change for you, which a lot of people are here for, this will be incredibly important. Do something that is going to push you forward. We have other episodes on what you can do. We have Olivia Gamber talking about upgrading your career and giving suggestions. We have Al Smith with LinkedIn. There are a number of other things you could do during that time. The important part is making the initial mindset shift and realizing you need to put yourself first to get energy and results and follow it with action. Starting every day by putting yourself first.

That is thing one and it may or may not sound like much. But we have found it to be something that isn’t talked about much that can make a big impact in your career and life change. You can get the results that you want. The results trail when you take different actions.

Thing two. This one sounds obvious at first. I want to give you ways that you can implement it as well. This is about diet. I’m not a health expert. This is a huge excitement/passion/interest of mine. I do a lot of studying looking for different resources and understand how this stuff actually works. I’m not interested in telling you about a particular lifestyle change or anything like that. I want to offer one piece of advice that has worked for many of our clients. I’m not a health coach or anything like that but the one major change you can make is simply choose one or two things that you are going to consume less of that are slowing you down right now.

Let’s break that down as to why it can be important. First, you are making a lot of changes already with a career change, in the job search, and/or building a side business. You are making a lot of change and devoting energy to that. When you are trying to change your diet completely and trying to adjust to a lifestyle and doing it in a big way it will be difficult to keep up. Instead look at what you consume on a normal basis and just remove one or two types of food that are going to slow you down. It could be carbs, breads, sugars, soda, anything. Take a look at what you eat on a regular basis during the week and choose one or two that will have the highest impact. For me, the two biggest pieces slowing me down were different types of sugars and breads. I ended up ruling all of those out for a period of time when I needed a huge amount of energy. That was a big lifestyle change. If you haven’t done it before then I would say just start with one of those pieces. Just one. For example, I eat a lot of ketchup, which has a ton of sugar, or a ton of soda. Removing one piece to start with can be huge. The philosophy is not only to add things that give more energy but removing the impediments and barriers from the energy you already have. Just another way to think about it, like the opposite of number one.

An easy way to implement this is to initially write down what you are eating for a couple days. You can probably chase back your meals and snacks in an average week. Just take about fifteen minutes and make it easy. Look at everything and try to determine the top two or three that you believe are slowing you down. Make your hypothesis and then research those couple of foods and see if they are actually slowing you down. If they are pick one or two to eliminate. I would say try and determine what you will replace it with. What will you substitute in for that? That can be helpful rather than just eliminating. If it is something you rely on, like soda, I used to drink a lot of it and if you would have just removed it I would not have had anything else. I had to replace it. In some cases it doesn’t have to be something perfect for you. Replacing soda with coffee is still a better alternative even though caffeine all day isn’t incredibly valuable either. You get the point. If you substitute it out with something better for you it will be more helpful across the board.

After you make the decision tell someone else so they can hold you accountable. It could be a partner, spouse, colleague, or someone else who wants to do it too. Tell someone else and give them permission to hold you accountable.

It may sound something like “hey I’m doing this so I can get more energy. I’m going off soda. I would love if you can ask me once a day or a week when you see me how I’m doing on that? I will give you a full report and it might sound silly but it will help me a ton because I feel accountable to someone and I will be more likely to do it.”

Any person that you are going to feel accountable to, anyone you trust, can do this. That is thing two. Instead of layering something on let’s pull something out. Choose one or two things you are ingesting and remove them and replace them with something else.

The last thing is probably my favorite by a long shot. Take different pieces of your life and put those pieces of your life on autopilot. It doesn’t have to be done in every aspect but taking a couple small aspects of your life that take your energy and time and putting them on auto-pilot can make a massive difference. The goal and reason is to take out small activities and eliminate unnecessary decision-making. Decision-making takes up a lot of energy. Even small decisions, if you are spending your time and energy on them, are draining you and leave you with little. It makes it more difficult for you to make a career change.

It could be a lot of things. It could be subscribing to easy meals and having them build you a menu for a week. It could be having your groceries delivered, hiring a housecleaner, or someone to mow your yard, or even leaving the most insignificant decisions for the end of the day versus the beginning. It could be as simple as deciding what you are going to wear and putting it by your bed so you don’t have to make the small decision in the morning. Have a routine where you do the same things in the same order every day. You are on routine rather than making decisions.

Another thing, and other ways to do it are if you regularly order or buy things have them delivered. Like groceries or hiring other people. If you don’t want to spend extra money you don’t really have to. Order from Amazon. It offers a lot and in some places they allow different types of subscriptions. When you have a subscription service you do it once and you don’t have to think about it again. You don’t have to make a decision and take the time and effort. If that is diapers, or whatever it is, take a look at the things you often replace and have to add to a list or make a decision. Remove it from your life.

Other ways that you can automate your life or put some of the pieces on auto-pilot might be creating systems for yourself within the framework of where you spend your time. It’s going to sound silly but one of the things Alyssa and I were experiencing when we came home every day was that our kids shoes were everywhere and it drove us insane. It was absurd because we were wasting so much mental energy on asking the kids to pick up or we were in a huff and stressed because it was the four hundred and seventy-fifth time we’ve asked them to pick up and they weren’t doing it. Instead we built a shoebox that attaches to the cabinet, that took little time to make, and it saves time and energy every day. The kids can now come in the door and they have a place to put their shoes. It’s easy for all of us and it’s hidden behind the door. We have eliminated that piece and essentially it is on auto-pilot. Building that in, literally in this case, allowed the elimination of all of that unnecessary energy being expended. That is what I’m talking about.

Another way you can do this is making the decision that for a short period of time you will eat roughly the same thing. You have three or four staple meals that will just be on the weekly menu. You won’t have to think about it for six or twelve weeks. I don’t want you eating the same thing for the rest of your life, but for a short period of time while you are in this marathon it can eliminate some of the headache and time and energy expended.

Another easy thing is to take a look at where you are spending time making small decisions or having little irritations. What are the things you walk through or by every day and you look at on the ground and have to decide, even unconsciously, to not do something. For example, we had a bunch of pictures that were sitting on the ground in front of the wall that they were going to be hung on. They sat there for a year plus. Every time we walked by we saw them on the ground and it triggered in the back of our mind that we needed to do something. We had to make the decision and continue reaffirming it that we weren’t doing anything with it today. Those little tiny, microcosm decisions are expending energy we don’t even realize. That is what I’m talking about. Make one decision to eliminate it so you don’t have the same irritation and decisions. It adds energy back to your life so you have more energy or willpower for the stuff that matters like making a career change.

Those are a couple examples on how can you start. First, walk around the spaces you spend the most time and determine what the irritations are and where you spend a lot of mental energy that with one decision or step you could eliminate the decision. It could be files sitting on the corner of your desk. Just put them in your drawers. Maybe you just need to keep them and don’t have to do any work on them. Just move them so you don’t keep looking at them and making the decision over and over to do nothing with them. Walk around your house or apartment or where you spend the majority of your time and determine if there is anything else like that. Where do you find you are having to make additional decisions during the week? Where do you spend the majority of your time? Alyssa and I lived in France for around four weeks and we noticed the French shop every day. Either going out to eat or shopping every day. It was a ton of fun but we realized how much decision-making power that that takes every day. Having to go to the store and decide on a meal every day which we had already put on auto-pilot before. It was really revealing on how much energy it took. We had a meal plan before with healthy food and on a specific routine. But in France we had to keep making the decisions and decide how to get there and to which store. It depletes a ton of mental energy.

That is the last step. Take a look at your life and see where you are expending that energy that you don’t need to. Think about it, if having to decide to mow your yard isn’t adding anything to your life go and get neighbor kids to mow it. I know sixty bucks a month can sound like a lot but if it frees you up to make the transition and maybe an additional ten thousand dollars a year then sixty bucks for three or four months to have someone else mow your yard is a no-brainer. Plus you enjoy life more and it is great to have someone else mow your yard unless you are really controlling on how your lawn looks. There are our three things.

I want you to pick one of these and start working on it. Layer just one into your life. Start the day by putting yourself first, making the mindset shift, and taking action, consume less things that slow you down, and take a few pieces of your life and put them on autopilot.

Hey, I really appreciate you being here and listening every week. We have more fun coming up on future episodes. We have exciting guests. I’m not going to tell you about them now but we’ve raised the bar through the help of our team. We have to thank Josh Rivers who makes everything happen behind the scenes with post-production and guest scheduling and everything else that happens. We have Kirby Verceles who has been on the show. She made a job switch that she loved before we snatched her up part-time to work on the podcast. She is a big part of making this happen and making it a better show. We appreciate you being here. If there is anything we can do for you let us know. We love your feedback on what you are enjoying and what you want to see.

If you haven’t already, go to happentoyourcareer.com. This is episode 172- happentoyourcareer/172 will get you everything and allow you to download the transcript so you can scan through it.

Thanks again.