Switching from one career to another can be scary, but it also can be a thrilling experience. Look at it as an opportunity to go after what you want to accomplish in life and make a difference in the world. The key is to take small, conscious steps and prepare yourself for a successful transition. It can be that you go back to school or re-train in a new field to gain specific knowledge and skill sets. It can mean networking in an entirely new way and putting yourself out there in the world so people can see and hear you.
Transitions can take time, patience, and a willingness to endure a whole new set of challenges. If you are hoping to start your own business, for example, you may need to work up the capital necessary and take a “day job” to make ends meet and avoid serious debt.
We started by answering the most common questions about career transitions and finding the job you want.
How do I transition from Career A to Plan B?
A common mistake people make when they embark on such a transition is jumping too quickly into something else without really thinking it all through or even stopping to ask,
- What do I want?
- What are my dreams?
Your answer should reflect your passions and your talents. It should not sound like a random stab in the dark. Once you decide what you want, set some goals that will move you toward fulfilling that. Take your time and be patient with yourself in the process. No one becomes an expert in a new career overnight, even if you are coming from another career where you were established and experienced.
Remember, as soon as you commit to a big dream and really go after it, your creative mind will come up with big ideas to make it happen. You’ll start attracting the people you need into your life to make your dream come true.
How do I figure out what Plan B should be?
Simply start by creating a list. Pull out a notebook or open a new Google Doc and list out ideas. You can create different columns for different categories of lists. For example, one column can list specific jobs you already have in mind. Another can list inherent strengths or talents. Another can list hobbies.
See what emerges. Is there a pattern among the lists? Is there a job that’s reflected across all three? I also
encourage people to open the conversation up with friends and family members. People who know you well can often offer ideas and insights that you may overlook.
Focus on what I call your core genius. Think about the things you love to do and that you do well. Yes, these may include hobbies or volunteer jobs that could be transformed into careers. For me, my core genius lies in the area of teaching and motivating. I love to do it, I do it well and people report that they get great value from it. Another core genius is compiling and writing books. Along with my co-author Mark Victor Hansen and others, I have written, co-authored, compiled and edited more than 200 books.
Don’t overlook the power of frustration. What do you see as missing from the market that you can fill?
One tip I like to give people when they are figuring out what to do next is to think about how they can be of service to others. When your dreams include service to others—accomplishing something that contributes to others—it also accelerates the accomplishment of that goal. People want to be part of something that contributes and makes a difference.
I’m having a hard time staying positive. What can I do?
Researchers have found that the average person thinks as many as 50,000 thoughts a day. Sadly, many of those thoughts are negative—I’m not management material…. I’ll never get a new job…. It doesn’t matter what I do, nothing ever works out for me. This is what psychologists call victim language. Victim language actually keeps
you in a victim state of mind. It is a form of self-hypnosis that lulls you into a belief that you are unlovable and incompetent. In order to live your dreams, you need to give up this victim language and start talking to yourself like a winner—I can do it…. I know there is a solution…. I am smart enough and strong enough to figure this out…. I will
find satisfaction and success in my life.
One of the most powerful tools for building worthiness and self-confidence is the repetition of positive statements until they become a natural part of the way you think. These affirmations act to crowd out and replace the negative orders you have been sending your subconscious mind. Create a list of 10 to 20 statements that affirm your belief in your worthiness and your ability to create the life of your dreams. Here are some examples of affirmations that have worked for others in the past:
- I am worthy of love, joy and success.
- I am smart.
- I am loveable and capable.
- I can create anything I want.
- I am able to solve any problem that comes my way.
- I can handle anything that life hands me.
- I have all the energy I need to do everything I want to do.
- I am attracting all the right people into my life.
I keep thinking about everything that went wrong. How can I focus on the future?
Ruminating about the past can lead to tremendous dissatisfaction that impedes forward movement. Many people under-appreciate the little things they accomplish every day. And yet they can recall in detail all the times they have failed or made mistakes. That’s because the brain remembers events more easily when they are accompanied by strong emotions.
Take time to write your achievements down. Start when you were very young and think of all your achievements since then. Don’t just pick the big things, write down all the things you take for granted. You can also create a log of success every day and review it when you are faced with a new challenge.
Try to avoid seeing your last career as something that “went wrong.” Maybe it didn’t go wrong at all. Maybe in the grand scheme of things you are being called to do something bigger with your life and have a greater impact
in the world. Your last career was a stepping stone in this new direction, and everything you’ve learned up to this point has groomed you to make this transition and welcome future successes.
People like to be around those who have a healthy self-esteem and are achieving their goals. Commit to acknowledging your achievements and your brain will begin to tell you the truth: you can do anything.
This article was originally published in June 2009 and has been updated.
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