Moving off of a linear career path shifts you toward having a less conventional career. That means you might need to take a less conventional, more creative approach to opening up opportunities. For example, instead of relying on job boards or traditional recruiters who tend to favor traditional candidates, you might need to focus on relying more on building connections through networking.
When you walk away from your current career, be prepared to face external judgment from colleagues, friends, family and other professionals in your sector. Most people who want change are generally motivated by internal values and priorities others can’t necessarily see, e.g., more time with family, more fulfilling work, more personal growth. For example, landing a cushy promotion is easy to spot. However, gaining more personal fulfillment might be less obvious to the casual observer. That means you can’t get too fazed by external judgment or criticism from people on the outside looking in who think your career seems off-track.
Changing careers is not for the faint of heart. It requires dedication and persistent commitment to creating the change you desire. It means continuing to move forward even when you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your options, and making one more phone call, going to one more networking event or applying to one more position. Often that final push is what makes the difference, and that requires commitment and drive, remaining laser-focused on where you’re trying to go, and not staying down for too long when facing hurdles along the way.
Change requires time, so the idea of flipping overnight from one profession to another is not realistic. Intermediate steps may be necessary. For example, enrolling in an evening course while holding down a full-time job, working toward obtaining a certification over time or taking up a side project that might not generate the desired returns in the short run. Being realistic about the time it takes to make a major change prevents frustration when progress takes longer than you had hoped.
Starting over almost always involves making a decision with an element of risk. Whenever you walk away from anything in which you’ve invested time, you really never know if you’re going to uncover something better or worse than your current situation. This is why moving on is often harder than holding on. At some point, though, you have to be willing to take a brave leap in order to pursue more meaningful work. Playing it safe is often not enough to deliver the kinds of significant shifts that make a real difference to your circumstances.
Related: How to Start Over
This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.