Why Analytical Thinking Can Stall Your Career Change


In this article, I will explain why a propensity for analytical thinking can stall your career change exploration.

Yet, there is a way to oil the wheels and make progress if you work on expanding your thinking.

The Limitations of Analytical Thinking

Like most professionals, us lawyers are used to engaging our left brain to problem solve.

We use our analytical thinking to analyse a problem and figure out the logical answer.

In the world of work, this is often a series of action steps to get us to our solution.

We like this structured approach as it’s how we have been taught and trained and it’s most likely a strength of ours.

Therefore, when considering a career change we usually first try to figure out the answer by undertaking some form of research.

We seek to find lists of career possibilities, we identify the pros and cons and endeavour to determine how realistic each possibility might be.

When this doesn’t give us a concrete answer we get frustrated and feel stuck. We may even feel more stuck than before because we have identified a list of reasons why making a change is difficult.

We think in a straight line.

If this is the problem (A), let’s find the solution (B).

Then we can plot the path of action steps to get us from A to B.

Problem solved!

When contemplating career changes, it’s very hard to just think our way to an answer.

What’s needed instead is to adopt some other approaches too.

One approach I find works well with my coaching clients is to spend some time exploring the benefits of right brain thinking.

Right Brain Career Exploration

The right brain is the more creative side of the brain.

It’s where you start to use your imagination, where you dream and get curious. It’s where you can get innovative and anything goes (for now).

It’s what to engage to generate new ideas, whilst temporarily suspending your judgment.

We all have this creative capability built in, even if we don’t consider ourselves as creative. It doesn’t mean having talents in the creative arts (I, for one, am seriously lacking in these departments!).

Instead, it means the ability to use your imagination, to open yourself up to new ideas, to suspend analysis and judgment.

You will have used this a lot as a child!

A critical part of any career change exploration is getting creative and generating ideas.

To do this you need to free yourself (at least temporarily) from the left brain tendencies to analyse and critique.

As I look back on my own career changes, it was the right brain activities that generated the possibilities for me.

My left brain then took over to plot the structured action steps necessary to execute the change.

If I had only used my analytical left brain to think about realistic options I would never have ended up in a 4-day week in-house role in the TV industry in Sydney.

Don’t just take my word for it.

When I review my career coaching work with my lawyer clients they usually pinpoint the right brain activities as critical in leading them to their new career path.

Get Creative

So, it’s important you get creative if you are contemplating a career change.

Utilise your friends, family or a career coach for brainstorming sessions and other creative exercises.

Suspend your left brain and get playful – create a colourful mindmap, write a “perfect day” future diary entry, dare to let your imagination roam free for a while as you consider working in a different career.

Yes, to do this you may have to live with the uncertainty of not having the answers, and this might be uncomfortable.

However, the important thing is using all your brain’s capabilities to give you the best chance of finding work you love.

Ready for a Change?

Career Coaching for Lawyers

  • Get unstuck and start taking action on your career change.
  • Gain clarity around what you want.
  • Generate ideas and explore career options.
  • Get support and guidance from an experienced career coach and former lawyer with 25+ years experience of the legal profession.

Matt Oliver

Matt is the founder of Law Career Plus and a former in-house lawyer (Sky Sports, London & Foxtel, Sydney). With over 12 years of experience as a career consultant & executive coach, he supports lawyers with their career development & career transitions. He does this through this website, a regular email newsletter and his one to one lawyer career coaching.

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