Readiness is a funny thing, especially as it relates to change. People will readily say they want change, but are they really ready? Wanting something to change whether it be in your life or career is very different from being ready. People will tell me they want their careers and ultimately their life to change for the better, whether it is better pay, better balance, or a better boss, and my job as a career counselor and consultant is to first and foremost assess readiness for change. So let’s take a closer look at the continuum of readiness.
I have seen models ranging from 4-9 stages within the continuum of readiness for change. The most straight forward model includes the stages of pre-contemplation, contemplation, planning, action and maintenance. As it relates to career management and career decision-making here is what to look for in each stage.
Pre-contemplation is really an internal restlessness sometimes manifested as boredom, malaise, or even irritability. It is when you begin to dread Sunday nights before the work week or are just going through the motions while at work. It could surface as a struggle to rally around projects and initiatives you once looked forward to or welcomed. It is the feeling that something just doesn’t quite fit anymore.
The shift from pre-contemplation to contemplation is often subtle and occurs when the emotions are examined through cognition. It is when you start to daydream about the “what ifs” of what “better” could look like. It is when you find yourself ruminating about alternate plans and even start to take it a step further and begin surfing the web, researching job postings, and compiling information about professions or industries.
When the information collected starts to take shape and gets run through a reality check you will shift into the planning stage. Sometimes there is a trigger that pushes people into the planning stage. It can be expedited by a change in job, boss, or personal circumstance. This is when you will identify and access resources to validate your ideas and formulate your plan. You may reach out to others who have navigated a similar change, or recruiters or a career consultant. This can be an exciting time as it mobilizes what once was just frustration.
It is right at this intersection of the planning stage and action stage I get a clear idea of people’s readiness for change. It is when I assess how ready someone or what trade offs they are willing to make in order to really create change. Wanting to change, being ready to change and actually committing to change is a process that each person goes through at their own pace in their own time. But it all starts with taking the first step. Are you ready?