3 Stress-Free Strategies for Kickstarting a Career Change
How to get started building your dream job today
So, you’ve finally decided: you are going to leave that no-good, dead-end job of yours.
You’re headed for greener pastures to maybe, just maybe, find a career that actually excites you. And as hard as making this decision was, you’re just getting started.
You now must face the countless decisions and uncertainties that come with a change of this magnitude, making it easy to settle and stay at the job you vowed to quit just days before.
Navigating this tricky terrain of kickstarting a career change can be difficult, but there are ways to maneuver around the obstacles in your way to having your dream career.
By far, the hardest part of starting any new habit is the beginning. Getting to the gym is harder than working out when you haven’t been for over 6 months.
And in today’s workplace where career changes are more common than pensions being paid out, it’s a habit that you’ll inevitably have to learn.
Despite the increased frequency of career changes, it’s still scary to leave what you know behind and pursue something different, especially if it’s a completely different field.
And that fear of change — of something new — often paralyzes people to avoid starting in the first place.
If you are currently considering a career change (or are in the middle of one right now), here are 3 ways you can, not only kick that fear to the curb, but also make that first step just a little easier.
1. Quickly Crush Your FOMO
“Comparison is the thief of joy” — Teddy Roosevelt
One of the most important (and often overlooked) pieces when making a career change, doesn’t happen by updating your LinkedIn profile, it happens right between your own two ears.
The tactics of changing careers are fairly easy — updating your LinkedIn, tweaking your resume — and can be done with minimal effort (and well, perhaps some direction).
What easily gets overlooked, however, is the mindset necessary to go through this emotional and stressful change.
If you don’t have a solid emotional and psychological ground to stand on when you begin this process, you can easily get knocked off your path.
The biggest cause of derailing I’ve found is the temptation of continual comparison to other people’s careers.
Making a career change is about finding the right career fit for you, not anyone else. And yet, when people are looking to make that giant leap, they are constantly in comparison mode.
Imagine a day in the life of your typical young professional today:
Scrolling through Facebook during their lunch break, they see one of their high school friends (who consistently received lower grades than them) just got a huge promotion.
Then later that day, while on LinkedIn looking for jobs, they see a post from one of their college roommates who is traveling on first class to Germany for a work trip.
Now, his current job that he once loved and actually enjoyed is no longer good enough and he’s got FOMO.
It has never been easier to compare ourselves to others. Our access to other people’s “perfect” lives totally f*cks with us.
The good news is that there’s a way to work around this.
I call it the Two-Part Question to Break Your FOMO.
Using “the grass is always greener” analogy, this framework asks you to look at your career (and life) from two different angles:
The conundrum with “the grass is always greener” is that you are constantly looking at someone else’s “plot of land.”
You are peaking over the fence and saying,
“Damn that looks pretty good, I wish I had that.”
What many people easily forget is to first look down at their own plot of land. While jumping ship and changing careers might look nice (and easier), the only constant between the job you currently have and the one you want is you.
So the first and most important question you need to ask yourself is:
Am I watering my own plot of land?
If you are failing to grow and develop your skills, capabilities, and keep your motivation at your current job, who’s to say you won’t fall into the same dilemma at a shiny new job?
While the easier move would be to jump to the seemingly “greener pasture”, the harder (but better) move is to refocus on your own development and practice watering your own plot of land.
If you’ve put in the effort to water your own plot of land but the soil still sucks (aka your company or job), then it’s time to pack your bags and search for something new.
Which leads us to the second question:
What plot of land would be better for me?
Now that you’ve done everything you can to maximize your current job, you can start to look elsewhere.
When you ask these two questions in this order, you focus on what you can control (your career and opportunities) and minimize the time spent analyzing and comparing your career to others.
(Note: Do not get these questions out of order. You could wind up wasting precious years hopping from one dead-end job to the other if you do.)
2. Figure Out What Makes You Come Alive
“Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman
While in business school, several friends of mine took an entrepreneurship minor in addition to their bachelor’s degree. I remember them starting a mock business from scratch based on a real business situation.
Their task was to figure out what the market needed and solve a problem.
While I agree with the task of solving a problem, there was one missing component: passion.
My friends could’ve easily picked one problem and solved it, that’s not the hard part (we don’t exactly have a shortage of problems).
The real problem/question is: would they enjoy the process of solving them?
For most of the problems, chances are…no, they wouldn’t.
When you begin a career change, it’s pointless to just look at the jobs you can “solve” or that you can do. Odds are you can perform many jobs, but how many of them would you enjoy doing?
So instead of going to another plot of land that looks exactly like the one you are standing on, why not look for your dream job instead?
My perspective is that if you are making a change now, it might as well be an epic one, right?
That’s exactly what I created The Ultimate Guide to Landing Your Dream Job — to show you the exact strategies you need to start doing work you love. Just add your info down below and grab your free copy.
3. Start Experimenting With Little Bets
“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.” -John F. Kennedy
Many people become immobilized by even the thought of making a career change. It’s perceived as too risky and so they wind up doing nothing about it.
They stay stuck in a job they know isn’t right for them, all because fear is holding them back.
While making a career change does come with some uncertainty, there are simple ways you can minimize that risk, which will ultimately eliminate that fear.
In fact, some of the most successful people are the best at mitigating risk.
When Richard Branson started Virgin Airlines, he negotiated an agreement with Boeing that if his company didn’t work out, he could return the planes.
Paul Tudor Jones (one of the most successful investors ever), always looks at how he can protect the downside of every investment.
Navy SEALs go through some of the most excruciating and hardcore training boot camps to prepare them for war. This training helps them survive when in the trenches fighting the enemy.
Minimize the risks you put on yourself before making a drastic change. You don’t want to have this epic quitting story, only to find yourself working the drive-thru a few months later because you needed to make ends meet.
So, one of the best ways to minimize risk when you’re making a change is to start making small bets on yourself. And you can do this while still working full-time.
Are you currently working as a marketing director but love dogs? Help a local dog shelter with their marketing activities on the weekends.
Are you a mechanical engineer wanting to open up a bike shop? Contact some bike manufacturers to tour their facility and see how they operate/design their bikes.
If you have an idea of what you could try, test it over the next two weeks. See if you like it, and if not, move on to something else. Keep tweaking and trying different things until you’ve found something that sticks.
Starting a new career is never easy, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
These 3 time-tested strategies listed above will definitely help kickstart your career, but it won’t get you all the way. To get crystal clear on the exact job for you AND land it, snag a copy of The Ultimate Guide to Landing Your Dream Job in 90 Days (or less). Inside you’ll find the roadmap you need to land the job you’ve been daydreaming of.
And remember, at the end of the day…
“The secret of getting ahead, is getting started” — Mark Twain
Originally published at www.scottabradley.com on January 2, 2018.