A simple model makes it easier for professionals to focus during career and work-life transitions. A framework is like an aerial view. You can choose reference points that make it easier to re-orient when the landscape is not yet known. This article presents five reference points – outlined in the A.U.D.I.T. framework below – that you can apply to help you stay on track during your own work-life transition.
The five elements are:
- Assess Yourself and Your Situation
- Understand Your World of Work
- Design a Strategy to Fit your Intentions
- Implement your Actions with the Support of a Step-by-Step Plan
- Test and Tally your Progress
Let’s consider each one in brief.
1. Assess Yourself and Your Situation
Jumping into action might alleviate anxiety in the short term but is unlikely to be the fastest path to where you want to go. Don’t just do what comes to mind first. Give yourself time lay a foundation based on an up-to-date self-assessment. This doesn’t have to be an onerous or time-consuming process.
Review your current situation, your strengths and your skills. Ask yourself what’s most important to you at this point in your personal and professional life. This is the basis for your decision-making.
Don’t worry if you’re not yet be ready to answer all these questions. Change is not a linear process. But keeping these questions and your reflections in mind will help you to move forward with more focus.
2. Understand Your World of Work
This second element is about the context. Your work-life transition is about you. But it’s also about your situation and opportunities available. For example, how confident do you feel that you understand what prospective employers value and need most?
What do you need to know to feel more confident that you are clear about how you can contribute? For example, if your career transition involves moving to a work in a different field, there will be gaps to address. Or maybe you’re not up-to-date with current hiring practices because you’ve been in a similar role for a while.
Increasing your awareness of questions relevant to your world of work complements what you have learned from your self-assessment. Together these two elements of the framework provide you with a strong foundation for the choices you make as you move forward.
3. Design a Strategy to Fit your Intentions for Career Change
Keeping what you actually do aligned with what you intend to do is not straightforward. This is where the third element of the framework – designing a customized strategy – can help.
There are many opportunities to veer away from your intentions. Influences range from external factors outside of your control to everyday distractions that take you off course.
Having a strategy won’t remove these hurdles, but it can help you get back on track more quickly. Your strategy won’t be static. It will need to be adapted as your proceed. But it will help you make better choices about how you invest your efforts.
Your strategy is like a marker in the snow. It gives you a point of reference when there’s a storm that reduces visibility. It also helps to have something to return to when you find yourself going off track or feeling lost.
4. Implement your Actions with the Support of a Step-by-Step Plan
A strategy helps, but it’s not enough without the tactics to implement it. This is why the fourth element of the framework is a step-by-step plan. The level of detail that’s helpful will depend on where you are in your transition and on your personal preferences.
Ask yourself how much overlap is there between the actions you complete in a typical day and what’s needed to advance your intentions. It may be that when you identify specific ways to implement your strategy, you need to change what you are doing to better fit your priorities.
Identifying and ordering these activities and allocating time to do them will help you take a more realistic approach in the context of competing demands. It will also make it easier to see your progress. Observing progress is the fifth and final element of the framework.
5. Test and Tally your Progress
Stepping back periodically to review how things are going will help you see the big picture and make adjustments as needed. Working through a career transition is an iterative process. The fifth element – testing and tallying your progress – is an invitation to stop and review the big picture and make adjustments for easier and faster progress.
Since we all have blind spots when it comes to our own work, an outside perspective can help if you’re feeling frustrated or disheartened by your progress. A mentor, trusted colleague, or coach can provide a sounding board when you’re dissatisfied with how things are going or need clarity about the things that are getting in your way.
Now you have a 5-element model that you can use. It’s a simple framework that can make a difference. Adapt it to your situation.
Of course, designing your own model is an option. Here’s one way to get started. Think of a previous successful career change from your own experience. Sketch out the steps that worked. Use them as a basis for your own framework.
Whatever framework you choose, it’s one of many possible approaches. No model will fully describe your personal experiences. But if the framework you choose reduces the cognitive overload that is often present during times of transition, it will make a positive difference.
Jennifer Bradley helps professionals get unstuck and move forward in their career and work life. She offers individual coaching and consulting, leads workshops, and writes about personal and professional transitions.