How to successfully navigate a career change

Years ago most professionals would pursue a single career path for the majority of their lives, but in today’s ever-changing world this notion has become something of a rarity. An  average professional in America now only stays in a role for about four and a half years. As an entrepreneur, I’ve made many pivots of my own, but the most important lesson I’ve learned is to gather all the facts before making a decision. Here’s how:

Ask yourself why
There are plenty of reasons for making a career change, and having a good perspective on your ‘why’ is a big step towards knowing what, how, when, and where. If you’re making the change because you’re unhappy in your current work environment, then you should look for a company who prides themselves on culture. Or perhaps you want to cut back on the long work hours and spend more time with your family. Be sure to look for positions close by in companies who emphasize a work-life balance. Every individual situation is different, so it’s important to recognize exactly what you are looking for in new career

Recognize your own talents
Take some time to think beyond the skills you can list on a resumé. Do you have knowledge and experiences that can’t be quantified? You might have a laundry list of certifications, but some of our best skills are intangible. What are your hidden talents? How can they help you define your next career move? It also helps to ask people you trust for opinions on your skills and shortcomings. Outside perspectives can add a lot to either validate your thinking or even overturn it, which could take you on a path you haven’t previously consider.

Know your ultimate goal
What do you really want to get out of your career? What are your long-term goals? I always believe it’s important to think five to 10 years ahead. Starting with a vision of where you want to be can help you set short-term goals in order to reach your final objective. The change that you make should be a logical step in an overarching direction. I like to think of these considerations like a game of chess: always planning six to seven moves ahead given the current state of the board. This way, every move can be part of a bigger goal. The board will change (sometimes unexpectedly) and the short-term plays will inevitably adapt with it, but your vision for success should remain the same.

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