15 May Understanding Your Identity and Your Career
How Your Identity and Your Career Are Tied Together
One key psychological tool in starting over in a new career is to understand how your identity and your career tie together.
Think about it – how often do we define ourselves by what we do? And how often do others take that lead and do the same? If you want to restart your career in the medical profession, you’ll need to really feel a part of that world as soon as possible.
Identifying with your new chosen profession is the quickest way to build confidence and get accepted.
So, how do you do that? Here are some ideas to put you on the right track.
Do Your Research
Knowing as much as you can about your new career is part of creating a new identity for yourself. The best way to do is outlined in an article I wrote about career research.
By doing this you will really start to understand and appreciate the landscape of this new world.
Build A New Network
You will not progress unless you create a new network. Don’t worry if you know absolute no one yet; your old network can still get you started. I’ve written about how to start building a new career network in the past so do check this out.
Tie Your New Identity and Your Career Together
Immerse yourself in your new profession. Subscribe to industry publications and read pertinent websites regularly. Make a point of knowing who the big names in social media are for that area. Cultivate some favourite bloggers to keep you up to date with news, gossip and what’s happening behind the scenes.
Cultivate The Right Look
While it may sound superficial, looking as though you belong is vital. Forget thoughts of breaking the rules or standing out by not complying. You can do all that later when you’ve found your place. Look at how people in your new world dress and how they talk. If you want to be a lawyer you had better start dressing like one.
Not all this is about being accepted by others. These are also ways that you will start to feel comfortable and as if you belong.
Read Working Identity
Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra is perhaps the most useful career book I have read. It uses the theory of Possible Selves to explain how changing careers is a slow process and that goes hand in hand with changing our identity. This isn’t something we wake up and do one day, but rather a number of steps forward, followed by a step backwards every now and gain. Trial and error, experimenting and always moving forwards battles with our desire to stay the same. Fascinating stuff!
Watch What You Say
I used to go around calling myself an “Ex PR turned psychologist”, which was exactly how I saw myself at the time. The problem was I still hanging onto the PR label. I also played around with “business Psychologist” for a while as I unsure where I was going to niche. It was only when I said “I am a career psychologist” did the credibility and confidence really start to come. It helped people place me, and, in turn, that helped open the doors to opportunities.
Your identity and your career are so entwined that if you want to progress in the latter, you’ll need to make deliberate changes to the former. I hope that this has given you some ideas on how to do so. If you’d like to discuss what this means for you, consider having some career coaching with me.