Changing career might feel like a major step, but taking a methodical approach makes it a lot easier.
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How would a paramedic with several decades in the field move into investment banking after so long, or an interior designer migrate over to teaching?
It may seem like a move too drastic to pull off, but with some cautious planning and careful execution – and maybe even a little dose of luck – switching careers is very possible, regardless of where you are in life.
First and foremost, you have to come to recognise that you are perfectly capable of becoming whoever you want to be, provided you have the willpower to persist and do whatever it takes. If you have already achieved success in a particular industry, you have already proven this.
So why do so many people trundle along in the same unfulfilling career path all their lives, while wishing they’d chosen something else? What if instead of wishing, you do it? It’s better late than never, and it’s never too late if you’re committed.
If you feel this way and are ready to make that positive change in your life, then it’s time to take action.
Here is a guide to help you navigate from where you are now in your career, towards something more fulfilling – bear in mind it will involve moving out of your comfort zone and adopting an element of risk, but if you are focused, it will all pay off.
Step 1: Decide on which path you would like to follow
Really opening your mind to the possibilities can be difficult, as your mind will want to revert to its default state, where your ambitions may seem unattainable.
For a pharmacist of 20 years, taking the leap into HR can seem difficult at best and impossible at worst. I advise you to step back as much as possible from the environment you’ve become used to, and focus your attention on what you really enjoy.
To start with, look at the bigger picture
Step 2: Take stock of where you are today
As soon as you’re settled on what you want to do, it’s important to decide where you stand. List your strengths and weaknesses, your experience and qualifications, and reflect as honestly as possible about what your natural inclinations are.
If attention to detail has always been an issue of yours, you will obviously have a lot more work to do if you’re chasing a career in IT. Here it is helpful not to frame yourself as a Teacher or Mechanic or Researcher, but to look at yourself in terms of transferable skills that could cross over from one career to another.
Step 3: Find the connection
After you’ve decided on the direction you’re heading and where you’re starting from, it’s essential to bridge the gap between the two points. The connection won’t always be a direct one; for example, someone with a history of finance is probably in a far better position to move into Human Resources if their previous roles have involved supporting the HR departments.
The connection between your location and your destination could be a competency, such as management or particular industry experience, but find something that joins the dots on your map.
Step 4: Identify what actions you can take now and go for it
The last step is always what separates the doers from the dreamers. As soon as you’ve identified your connection, run with it, don’t abandon it. Use contacts you have, or network a bit and make some new ones. Ask around and make it known what your plans for the future are. Cast the net wide and often.
Rely on the strength of your ambition to keep you motivated. Bring in help from a coach or mentor to help you navigate between points A and B. Identify an action plan, with separate steps toward your goal, and start working through it.
And don’t stop, because it’ll only make restarting all the more of a struggle. Keep moving forward and you will eventually reach your desired result.