If you’re considering changing your career, you might want to consider following these key steps.
1. Think why you want to make a change
The first step is to ask yourself some important questions. Do you hate your job? Do you think the grass is greener somewhere else? The more important question is: why are those things true? Once you get clear on the “why,” you can figure out what’s really motivating you, and have a chance of finding something that will truly hold your interest and attention. It can also save you from facing the same (or different) unforeseen problems in your next position.
2. Think what your ideal future looks like
Following your passion is one thing, but making smart career choices is another. Figure out exactly what you want your new career to look like, what exactly you want to be doing on a daily basis. Then figure out what you already have in your back pocket that qualifies you. What is your capital here? What can you leverage to ease your transition and net this in the win column?
3. Assess everything you’ll need to tackle
Make sure you know exactly what you need to have prepared in order to make your transition. Are there any skills or certifications you need to acquire first? Do you have the financial safety net to transition? Will there be any other factors such as childcare or housing that you’ll need to consider? Avoid getting your pants caught around your ankles and only make your move when you know you can execute.
4. Make a plan
Before you act, plan. Figure out your goal, and set a timeline. Break it up into steps and milestones and then set about checking each off. Measure your progress and enjoy the momentum you build as you work toward your new career.
5. Track your progress
Hold yourself accountable to your timeline. Set deadlines and reminders for different pieces of your transition plan. Make lists, or even Excel spreadsheets, to keep yourself on track. You’re investing a lot in making this change, make sure you’re wasting none of your time or energy.
6. Pivot your brand
You’ll need to shift your image a bit so that your new audience will understand and accept you. Make it easier for them to “get” you, where you’re coming from, and why they should want you. Figure out how to set yourself apart from competitors who’ve been in that field for years. Figure out how your old career narrative can be adapted as an asset in your new one. Think of yourself as a daring new product for a tired field, then sell that.
7. Call in the cavalry
You have people. You have a network. Mobilize them. Consider asking your most trusted contacts for help. Ask for specific things that will make it easiest for the people who have your back to contribute effectively to your cause. You have a network; use it!
8. Meet the right people
You need to know some important contacts in your new field. This is a given. Don’t let it stress you out. Show that you are genuinely interested in their experience and expertise, flatter carefully but not too much, and don’t ambush anyone. A little genuine respect can go a long way in sweetening up valuable allies.
Change is scary. If you follow these steps, you won’t be at a risk of bailing on your career change dream. Do your homework, be methodical and open-eyed, and then take a well-placed flying leap.