The decision to make a major career change can trigger all kinds of nasty anxiety and ruthless paranoia. What if I fail? What if it’s nothing like what I’m expecting? What if I regret leaving my current gig? But, as we all know, you can’t live a fulfilling life if you waste your time and energy focusing on the “what ifs”. The more effective course of action is to focus on taking productive steps to minimize the fear that inevitably comes with any major career shift.
Take steps to understand your motivation for making this career shift. What about this new career appeals to you? What makes it feel like a smart move? How does this new career align with your values and long-term life goals? Spend some time thinking about the overall vision you have for your life and see where this new career falls into it. When you know that this career move is in line with your life as a whole, you’ll feel more secure in your decision.
Reach out to people who are already in the career you’re looking to go into. Invite them to lunch and ask for an honest, “insider’s” perspective. Try to get the whole scoop: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t sugar-coat the reality of the career. You need to go into it with eyes wide open. You’ll also want to ask about the skills and resources you’ll need to do the job. You may need to start preparing for the transition months or years ahead of time.
3. Be Realistic
When switching career paths, you may find yourself down at the bottom of the corporate ladder once again. The seniority and experience you’ve accumulated thus far may be completely ignored. You also will likely end up taking a pay cut along the way. You probably won’t just walk into the perfect position you’ve been dreaming of. Be realistic about the amount of time you’ll need to devote to this venture to see it through to your ultimate goal.
Transitioning into a new career will always be somewhat of a leap of faith. You’ll never know how it’s going to work out until you’re in it and, yes, it could be disastrous. However, by taking the steps outlined above, you can certainly reduce the risk of a negative outcome and you will definitely feel more confident about your decision. Ultimately, if you really want to make a big career change, choose a reasonable date and commit to doing it by then. Once the date is picked, your motivation will skyrocket and things will start to fall neatly into place.