How to Work Up the Courage to Change Careers

So, you’re ready to move on. Whether you’ve decided to change careers because you want a fresh challenge or because your industry doesn’t feel like a good fit for you anymore, making this bold move can feel pretty scary. But ultimately, if you’re really ready for a change, you’ll probably be glad you did it. Still, it can be awfully difficult to take the plunge, even once you’ve decided it’s definitely what you want to do. Here are some tips to help.


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1. Confidence is key.

Changing careers is definitely a little scary, and it will likely throw you for a bit of loop (and probably your co-workers and even your family too). But, you know that this is what you want to do, and now that you’ve made that decision it’s time to rally all of the necessary chutzpah and give yourself the best possible chance for success. You must believe in yourself to make this kind of a change. You’re going to need to do a lot of work, form new connections, and take risks in order to make the switch – and all of those things require that you come to this challenge with confidence. Remember all of your experience, think about how far your motivation can take you, consider the consequences of NOT following your dreams and, when all else fails, fake it ’til you make it.

2. Connect with several networks.

Networking is important for success in almost any industry. And, when you’re changing careers, it could be more important than ever. Connecting with people who are where you’d like to be is a great first step. Ideally, you have some friends in that field; be sure to talk to them. Also, it’s important to speak with other people who’ve successfully switched careers. They’ll be able to give you some great tips, and they’ll probably understand better than anyone else what you’re going through.

3. Prepare.

There is a lot to do in order to prepare to change careers, and you want to be sure you’ve done everything you can to lay the groundwork for a smooth transition. Suring things up financially, getting some training, or lining up a few opportunities could help you feel more ready. You definitely want to look before you leap into something like this. But, once you’ve prepared, you can lean on that preparation to help you find the courage you need to get through the transition more comfortable. Remind yourself of all the hard work you’ve put in up until this point. You’ve prepared for this, and you’re ready.

4. Use the scary thoughts and emotions as fuel.

It’s very natural to feel a little afraid of such a big change. When those kinds of thoughts and feelings start to come in, you have two choices: 1. you can let them paralyze you, which wouldn’t be very productive, or 2. you can let the scary parts of this fuel your fire and give you the energy and strength you need to make the transition happen. Try not to think of this as scary, but rather embrace the experience as exciting. You wanted more of that in your life, right?

5. Know you can always go back.

The skills and experience that you gained in your previous career will always be with you. If you ever wanted to go back to what you used to do, you probably could. Maybe you couldn’t have the exact same job at your old company, but you could certainly find work doing something similar. You’re moving on, but that doesn’t erase anything about your past. You get to take all of that great experience and training with you.

6. Remember that you’re not the first and won’t be the last.

A lot of people change careers. If it was impossible, than that wouldn’t be the case. It can be difficult to track data about career changes, since the term is actually kind of tricky to define. But, people definitely change jobs often, maybe even 11 times over the course of their lives (in the case of baby boomers). Think about all the people that you’ve known who’ve changed careers. If they can do it, so can you.

7. Embrace a lack of clarity.

You might not know exactly what comes next for you. And, maybe that’s all right. Of course you want to make a smart decision here, and you definitely don’t want to do anything to jeopardize your financial future. But, life is a little scary sometimes, and it’s also exciting. It should challenge us and make us wonder. If you don’t have perfect clarity about what comes next for you, relax and take it one day at a time. You’ll find your path to something new soon. Sometimes, we have to wade through some uncertainty before we find it, and that’s all right, too.

8. At some point, you just have to leap.

If you’ve really decided that changing careers is in your best interest, eventually, you’ll just have to go for it. If you wait around until it feels completely together and until you’re 100 percent sure it’s the right choice, you might be waiting for a long time. Assuming you’ve really thought this through, go for it. That bold move should help you feel more courageous than you’ve felt in a long time.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you worked up the courage to change careers? How did you do it? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.