THE BLOG
05/26/2014 09:53 am ET Updated Jul 26, 2014

Getting Off the Linear Career Track

I've been reading a lot about failure -- and have come to the conclusion it doesn't exist. If luck is where opportunity meets preparation, failure is when experience meets wisdom.

I'm always fascinated by how people get off the linear job path, either on purpose or involuntarily, and become successful in a different field. It can be nerve-wracking for others to watch from the outside, especially those who grew up in a generation that touted climbing up the ladder in one company.

I recently sat down with a magazine editor-in-chief who was pre-med undergrad. I have a friend who majored in foreign service but went into finance after stumbling upon a last minute career fair. I heard about a sister whose old boss from commercial real estate liked her enough to make her a big name in fast food industry in another country.

Supersize me -- it just takes a single connection or one person, albeit seemingly random, to make a difference. Job requirements may be laid out, but recruiters and the boss may be looking for someone outside the box. People, like careers, can change for the better. It doesn't hurt to give anything a try.

I realize now I've said no in my head several times to opportunities before I even apply on paper. It comes down to believing in your capabilities. Whatever you learned, on and off a past job, is translatable. You bring something unique to the table and that individuality = confidence.

What's not on my traditional resume: special events manager at a college dorm, psychology research assistant, fashion blog editor, law firm receptionist, hardware store cashier and barista. The point is, I've worked in a lot of different areas and that should open doors. Life is about learning and constantly evolving. What's important is wherever you go, keep mentorship and feedback as integral processes in personal and professional growth.

The biggest risk-takers I see now exist in the volatile but exciting start-up world.

Entrepreneurs take their experience in various industries from the corporate world and work overtime to execute their vision. It's going all in with your savings and sometimes, the payoff is even greater than you can imagine. Whether we decide to take a gamble in the first place, well, that's up to you. You don't have to be in a horse with blinders. You don't have to be the jockey but see the race from above and raise the stakes. So, what's your best bet?