Changing Jobs

6 steps toward a cautious career change

Written by Peter Jones

A life where you dread what you do every day isn’t sustainable. If you’re absolutely miserable, it’s clear you need a change—maybe even a total career overhaul. What isn’t clear is how to transfer all the hard work you’ve put into building this one career into the start of a new one.

There are ways to make a big change without having to give up all the gains you’ve made so far. Let’s explore some key steps you can take.

1. Define your ultimate goals.

First and foremost, take a big step back and ask yourself some tough questions. What do you want out of a career, and why aren’t you getting it in your current career? Look at your life from higher up to map out the career and work life you hope to attain. Taking time to assess the situation will help you make the right choices and not rush into anything too fast.

2. Pick an ideal moment.

A career change is a stressful move, no matter how happy it makes you. Even if you’ve done your homework and can make the transition as smooth as possible, your life will be turned upside-down for a while. Choose a time to explore career change when everything else in your life (your family and friends, your home life, etc.) is stable and can fly on autopilot as you navigate the bumpy seas of your transition. Don’t attempt any massive job changes when you’re about to go through a massive life change, as well!

3. Ask people who have found success.

Seek advice from people further up the food chain who have made big career leaps. They can give real-life examples of how to handle specific situations. Ideally, you can find a mentor in the field to ask about steps for your particular industry. You’ll want to gain a full understanding of the territory you’re branching into in order to make smart, calculated moves.

4. Think big, act small.

Once you’re sure you have an ideal scenario of where you want to eventually end up, go for it. Just break that massive goal down into smaller benchmarks—goals that you can meet in the shorter term. Then put your blinders on and focus on one task at a time until you start generating the momentum to carry yourself closer to your desired endpoint.

5. Test the waters.

If you’re not 100% sure of what you want, don’t just leap headfirst into a new career—particularly one that will involve a major lifestyle change. Try to gain some casual experience in the field or position before you commit. The last thing you want to do is end up in a new career and hate it! Try volunteering or taking on some freelance work until you see how well you fit.

6. Remain humble throughout the process.

You’re making a move into a territory you can’t know as intimately as the one you’ve been in—no matter how well-respected and successful you are currently. You’ll have to start a few notches down and prove yourself. Embrace new challenges with eagerness and gratitude, and you’ll be fine.


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About the author

Peter Jones

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