It's not easy to start over. It feels daunting, scary, paralyzing even. Yet, when you feel the tug for more meaning and fulfillment in the work that you do, the truth is that sooner or later, you've got to answer.
For many of us, it's at this very moment that we feel the most helpless. "Where do I start? What should I do? Would anyone take me seriously in a new role, even if I tried my very best to get it right?" These are exactly the haunting questions that keep us stuck in the very place from which we're trying to break free.
Let me tell you, it may seem daunting, but successful career reinvention is indeed possible. In fact, these days, it's become absolutely essential for long-term career success.
Feeling that tug now? Here are five ways you can effectively respond.
1. Understand the Difference between a Job and a Career
Keep in mind this one simple truth: Jobs are temporary. Your career, on the other hand, is not. Be strategic. Understand that job transitions are a normal part of any career. So be intentional about plotting and then consistently pursuing the path that will get you exactly where you want to go. Even if that final destination is quite different from your current surroundings, know that with strategy and action, you can reinvent your career and redefine your life.
2. Work Your Network
The time to grow, develop and nurture your network is well before you actually need it. So hopefully, you didn't fall victim to the short-sighted practice of only growing mentors and sponsors within your current professional space. But even if you did, it's not too late for course correction. Cast your net wide, and initiate new relationships in the direction you'd like to grow by first determining how your current skill-set can be of service to the very people you'd like to attract. In the process of your helpful interactions, you'll be gaining credibility, expanding the scope of your network and acquiring critical insider knowledge that will come in handy when it's time to make the leap.
3. Never Stop Learning
The best way to ensure you maintain a wide array of options throughout your career is to never lose your thirst for knowledge. Degree acquisition is only the beginning. Make the time to read widely, expose yourself to new experiences, different disciplines and a wide range of cultures. And of course, invest in your continual development through on-going training, courses and career coaching. Feeling prepared to venture into a new space is greatly connected to actually being prepared. And that requires that you do the homework in advance.
4. Don't be Afraid to Downgrade
When making a drastic career shift, come to peace with the knowledge that all moves may not be in an upward direction. Sometimes lateral or even downward movement is necessary in order to fully gain mastery of a new space. But if you're preparing for a direction that is truly in line with your passion and greatly centered in your strengths, know that even if you're starting at the bottom, you won't be there for long.
5. Take the Leap!
Don't be afraid to answer the door when opportunity knocks. It's natural to feel constrained by the unknown. But remember, every new situation includes its own set of uncertainties. Better to move in a direction that is in-line with where you know you want to go, than to languish in the familiarity of a space you've now outgrown.
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