You may have noticed that I have a silhouette of an eagle on my kickstart careers logo. There is a reason for this and if you are considering a career transition, may I suggest that there is a great deal that we can learn from this majestic bird of prey:
1. Eagles fly alone at high altitude and not with other small birds. No other bird flies at the same height as the Eagle.
If you are considering a career transition you probably feel different to your peers who may give you the impression that you are being ungrateful and self indulgent. There is something different about you. Embrace this difference. Start mixing with other 'eagles' such as people who inspire you, people who love their job, people who work in the sector you have an interest in and people who can help you to get to where you want to be. According to Jim Rohn, you are the average of the 5 people you spend most time with. Choose your company wisely and rise above.
2. Eagles have strong vision. They can focus on something up to 5km away. When an eagle catches sight of its prey, he narrows his focus on it and sets out to get it, regardless of the obstacles.
When you have a desire for fulfilling work it is important that you have a vision. Even if you don't know exactly what you want to do, you can still have a vision of what you want from work, e.g. the skills you want to use, the environment, size of organisation, the type of people you want to work with and so on. The clearer the vision, the more focused and determined you will be to achieve your goal.
3. Eagles do not eat dead things. They feed on fresh prey only.
In your job search, research is key. In your research, never make assumptions based on old or dead information. Sometimes we think we know what a job is like, but until we speak to someone who does the job or has regular contact with people who do, we don't really have the correct information and knowledge. Up to date labour market information is vital.
4. Eagles love the storm. When clouds gather, the eagle gets excited. The eagle uses the storm's wind to lift himself higher. Once it finds the winds of the storm, eagles use the storm to lift himself above the clouds. This gives the eagle the opportunity to glide and rest its wings. Meanwhile all the other birds hide in the leaves and branches of the trees.
Successful career changers relish challenges and they don't let disappointments and barriers stop them from achieving their goal.
5. When ready to lay eggs, the female and male eagle identify a location very high on a cliff where predators can't reach. The male flies back and forth to prepare the nest. This includes the gathering of thorns to protect the eggs from intruders.
It is important to prepare for change. A career change is a big thing, so perhaps you can prepare by starting something new that isn't so huge, e.g. start a new hobby, join a gym. This can give you confidence for bigger changes ahead and give you an opportunity to mix with new people who could help you in your research. Preparation for change can also include reading an inspirational book, watching an inspirational movie or simply doing stuff you love to help you feel positive and release those endorphins. It is also important to protect yourself from people who are unlikely to support your transition, especially in the early stages.
6. Once the baby eagles are born, the mother trains them to fly. She will throw them out of the nest and while they are out, she will remove part of the nest to reveal the thorns. When the eaglets return to the nest they are pricked by the thorns. Shrieking and bleeding, they jump out again, wondering why their loving mother would inflict such pain on them. This is repeated until the eaglets start to flap its wings and fly.
Being pricked by thorns tells successful career changers that it can be dangerous if they get too comfortable in the same job. There's no growth or development in the comfort zone and it has a negative impact not only on yourself but those close to you (who hear the frustrations after work every day). Those who really love you will want you to grow and be who you were meant to be, even if it means seeing you in pain temporarily.
7. When an eagle grows old, his feathers become weak and cannot take him as fast as he should. When he feels weak and about to die, he retires to a place high up in the rocks. While there, he plucks out every feather on his body until he is bare. He stays in the hiding place until new feathers are grown. Then he flies away.
Firstly, it's never too late to make a career transition. Secondly, the skills you used in the past may not be relevant for your new role and changes may be necessary. It may also be necessary to get rid of old habits and develop new ones for a different environment. If you are flexible, you will cope well with change.
Adapted from Dr Myles Munroe, Seven Principles of an Eagle