Change is terrifying and career change—well, let’s face it—it can make you feel like your head is going to explode. And now that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, the employment landscape is changing by the day. That being said, it is possible to make a pivot (even in today’s environment) without losing your mind or yourself.
Here are some essential dos and don’ts if you are finally ready for that career makeover:
Don’t make assumptions
One easy mistake is to assume the timing is wrong to change careers. Yet the seeds for change can begin in a crisis. Maybe the current coronavirus pandemic has made you rethink your priorities. Or perhaps it can open up opportunities that didn’t even exist before. Look at the mask making industry. Surging demand has strained supplies to the point that mask-making entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere. For example, Seattle-based reusable gift-wrap company Tokki has pivoted its company and redirected all its cloth inventory to masks. If you search for “face mask” on Etsy, the e-commerce marketplace, you’ll get at least 500,000 results. Other businesses thriving during the pandemic include bread-baking, coffee subscription and fitness equipment companies, among others.
Don’t just do research
You’ve been thinking about how to change careers for years. So, every day you do a little research on the Internet. Then you decide to take an online course called, “How to Successfully Change Careers.” A few months go by when you come across a podcast focused on career transition, which you start listening to every morning before work. Sound familiar? Doing research is great, but research combined with action is what will get you from point A to point B. So explore different options, conduct informational interviews, and put together an action plan with measurable short and long-term goals.
Don’t get stuck on the how
You’ve been dreaming for years of a fulfilling career. The first question to ask is, “what.” Once you determine what you want to do, then you can focus on devising a plan to get there. Too many people get wrapped up in the “how” and then end up paralyzed or going in circles. Let’s say your passion is knitting, but you keep getting stuck on how to monetize it. Almost anything can be monetized. You just need to think creatively and open your mind to the possibilities. You could sell knitted items online, sell your knitting patterns and designs, create a knitting course, start a blog—the list is endless. So, don’t get stuck on the “how” and focus first on the “what.”
Do consider your why
Why do you want to change careers? Is it merely because you’re not getting promoted or you hate your manager? Those may not be the right reasons to make a big shift. If you want to make a pivot because your career is no longer aligned with your values, then you’re on the right track. Your “why” is crucial because it’s going to sustain you on your journey. Change can be unsettling, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But when you get to the other side and find yourself more joyful and fulfilled, it’s all worth it.
Do get support
Don’t feel like you need to go it alone. Assemble your “support team.” Enlist the help of friends, family and perhaps a coach or mentor when deciding how to change careers. Think of it this way—career change is an expedition, not a day trip. You’ll need some trustworthy people to guide you safely through the jungle and hold you accountable.
Do test drive different careers
Research and informational interviews are important. But you’ll never really know if a career path is right for you until you actually try it out. There are many ways to do this, including:
- Starting a side gig
- Getting a part-time job
- Shadowing someone (if there is someone at your workplace doing the job you’d like to be doing this one is easy)
By test-driving your new career, you’ll be better able to determine whether it is all you imagine.
As Seth Godin once said, the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable. Will you dare settle for less?