Help! I Need A Career Change

Inertia is defined as a property of matter by which it continues in its existing state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line, unless that state is changed by an external force.

When it comes to careers, most people operate in a state of inertia.

It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day routine and stability of our current job.

Many of us want to make a change, wishing we could spend our working hours doing what we love – our true passion. But the external force to remain, to do nothing, is so strong.

Getting started is the hardest part.

Making A Career Change: 5 Actions to Shift from Dreaming to Doing

Document. Gain some clarity and direction by asking yourself and writing down answers to questions such as: What’s working in my current job/career/What are the positives? What’s not working for me/What are the negatives? What do I want to change? Why do I want to make those changes? What would I do everyday, if I could? The answers will be your anchor and help determine the ultimate direction you take.

Aim for bite-sized, consistent actions. Frequent small actions add up quickly. Daily commitments such as 10 minutes/day to research an idea, reaching out personally to 1 person/day, or 15 minutes/day to reading up in your area of interest will keep you engaged. Losing steam and distractions are your worst enemies when you want to, but don’t need to make a change.   

Get personal. No one has successfully made a major career shift on their own. The quality of your network and relationships will be the factor that determines your success. Start with your personal network – family and close friends. This small group of people can connect you to others who can help. Ask for introductions. You’ll be amazed who Aunt Bobbi knows.

Rehearse your lines. I’ve spoken with many people who asked to meet with me because they were exploring a career shift, or wanted to make a job change. Few were prepared for the conversation other than having a few canned questions in their back pocket. Even if you aren’t sure exactly what your ideal job or career is, you need to be able to articulate a vision, examples, and thoughtful questions before you engage beyond your network of family and close friends. Practice out loud. Prepare for every conversation like it’s a job interview. You never know who might be the link to landing a great opportunity.

Try it out. Internships aren’t only for college students. Pitch yourself as an “entern,” or an apprentice. A engineer friend of mine always dreamed of teaching high school but wanted a test-run before committing to a career shift. He volunteered to teach a year-long after-school robotics class in his town. The best way to know if a career, job or organization is a good fit is to live in it.

It’s never too late to make a change. You just have to move past the inertia.

Marta Steele is a partner @People_Results. Connect with her on Twitter @MartaSteele.