Deciding to switch careers, especially when you’re older and established in your current one, takes a lot of guts. But it is not an impossibility, and neither is success after a mid-career switch.
It’s no piece of cake, of course. However, there are techniques that can make your career reinvention more fruitful.
Think of it as an art; while there’s no one, clear-cut way to do it, there are skills you can improve on as well as tips and techniques to bear in mind.
As the saying goes, those who fail to plan are planning to fail. While this is not true in every case, planning beforehand can get you a long way.
So how exactly can you plan for this big move? Go back to the basics. Grab pen and paper, and write down all these crucial facts:
Is money a big factor? If not, it is easier to take bigger risks. Otherwise, you will have to take things slowly.
When are you planning to retire? If you have a decade or more ahead of you, then you can be more flexible about your reinvention and make bigger changes. If you only have a few more years before retirement, consider opting for a smaller reinvention.
Do you have a lot of resources? What kind do you have? Based on your answers, you should be able to create a timeline. This timeline should serve not only as your schedule but reminder of your goals.
Set a deadline for each goal/task, and reward yourself with little somethings whenever you cross a certain task off your list. This boosts motivation and determination to face what’s ahead.
Learn from the stories of others – those you know personally and those you can read about in books, magazines or online.
Many tend to underestimate the power of listening to the stories of others, while really, these are not only good sources of motivation and inspiration, but also serve as a guide to planning and making decisions in your new career path.
Identify the new skills necessary to survive and succeed in the new course you are about to take. Your approach on developing those skills would vary depending on your background knowledge and your current skill level.
Consider the following:
• Take formal classes: While this is not always necessary, this is the best way if your new career path requires some sort of certification. This is probably the most costly among the options, but if you enrol in a good school and have a good teacher, this will definitely be beneficial.
• Take online classes: This is an option if your schedule is more complicated. Some online classes are free, others require payment. Once you find these, it is best to enrol early to save yourself a spot.
• Get a sideline job: Make sure you develop the said skills in this job. This is a good option if you have free time and want to earn while you’re learn.
• Read books on skills: This is less costly and perhaps less time consuming than going to classes, but of course, this means you must have the patience and determination to absorb, understand, and practise the skills you learn.
On the flip side, you will be able to identify your current skills and recall past lessons from your former career. Do this no matter how irrelevant you think your past career is to the new course you’re taking.
You can’t do it all by yourself, and that’s the truth, especially if you’re in the midst of a career reinvention.
You will have to ask others for help one way or another; so always take the opportunity to expand your network effectively and fill it with skilful people from various fields and expertise.
If you are planning to start a new venture, this is a necessity; you’ll need a lot of people working for and with you, and networking can fill these positions or at the very least help you find qualified people who will.
Networking is not as difficult as you might think; in fact, it is something you can do on a daily basis.
You’re in a new field, and probably think many are more qualified than you. But don’t limit yourself by such thinking. More than certifications and past experience, persistence, enthusiasm, and dedication pay off.
Accept that there will be rejections and failures along the way, and that is okay. Instead of seeing these as setbacks, think of them as stepping stones towards the realisation of your goals and learn from them instead.
Ask yourself: What did I do wrong this time? How can I improve to increase my chances of succeeding?
More importantly, you have to stop doubting yourself and start believing in your capabilities. Stop thinking it’s impossible – everything is impossible if we keep on thinking it is. Just do it and see for yourself.
This is perhaps the most important step because you have to be able to be confident and project this confidence so others – family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, and others in the network, are more willing to help you get to the top.
Surround yourself with people who will support you and at the same time, are willing to correct and guide you along the way.
This article first appeared in thenewsavvy.com
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