It is the start of a new year and some of you may be looking at a more drastic change in your career, such as exploring a new field or profession, or even moving to a very different industry.
If you feel that you are at the crossroads of your career, take a little time to reflect before you take the plunge.
There are usually many considerations before making a career switch.
Here are some tips to help you make that final decision:
Be honest with yourself
Making a career switch may be one of the biggest decisions in your career, so do not act rashly.
There can be many possible outcomes and consequences.
Most importantly, take stock of your current situation and look at your transferable skills, values, motivations and interests.
Be honest with the real reason for wanting this change. Is it due to a push or pull factor?
Dig deeper and carry out a SWOT analysis, that is, look closely at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
Do not stop here. Consult people around you and get their honest opinion too. However, do remember that you have to own that final decision. You have to live with your career. They do not.
Get out of your comfort zone
Many people find it challenging to make a career switch and, in many cases, it is not because they are not able to do so but because they find it difficult to leave their comfort zone. They do not want to go beyond the boundaries of the familiar.
Now is the time to go the extra mile to network with professionals from the industry you are trying to penetrate into.
Get close to experts in the field you are exploring and conduct interviews to get more information. Hopefully, this will lead you to a more informed decision and also potential hirers.
Networking is the proven, most effective avenue for getting a job, especially for career-switchers. Identify role models who can act as a good sounding board. Get over your inertia.
Get your expectations right
A successful career switch requires proper planning. However, even with the best strategies in place, do manage your expectations as you may be faced with setbacks along the way.
Know that a career switch usually does not happen overnight, especially if you have to bridge certain skill gaps by having to attend courses or gain certain exposure in the new area.
So, be patient and do not take the first job that comes along your way.
Embrace change, remain flexible, be practical and stay resilient. It is useful to have a Plan B too.
Get your support system in place
Do not try to make major changes on your own. Talk to your spouse, family members and friends you know you can count on and have them understand the rationale behind the switch.
Keep them updated on your progress so that they can relate to what you are going through in such a period of uncertainty.
Be prepared that your emotions may roller-coaster and a simple word of encouragement from someone around may help you cope better.
Don’t look back
There is always a tendency to look back in the initial stages after you make a career switch.
Now, the grass seems to be greener on the side you came from. You may continue to doubt yourself and ask questions such as “Have I made the right decision and will I ever succeed?” or “Why did I leave a comfortable job for this?”.
Refrain from looking back and hankering for the “good old days”.
Remind yourself that they could not have been all that good if you wanted to make a major change in the first place.
Look forward to what you want to achieve and stick to the plan. Once you experience small successes, the way forward will be easier.
Many recent studies show that an average person will change careers (not jobs) several times over the course of his or her lifetime.
So you are not alone in your struggles to better your life or to look for new opportunities.
As French writer and humanist Andre Gide says, “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”