By Alexa D’Agostino
What steps can you take now to reach that next professional level? Whether you’re starting out or are several years into your professional life, it’s always a good time to think about planning your next move. According to CareerBuilder, about 75 percent of Americans have changed careers at least once, and 33 percent are thinking about it right now.
So, if you’re contemplating a career makeover in 2019, you’re in good company.
First, you need to commit. A new or different career won’t just fall into your lap. The onus is on you to actively work toward improving your prospects. Your goals may be as small as finding one new person to network with or as large as landing a job in an entirely different field. Regardless, you need to actively engage in making the change happen.
Once you’ve committed to making a change, the next step is figuring out what that change should be. Make a plan for yourself that will help you establish a new career path. Take large goals and break them into smaller ones so that you don’t get overwhelmed, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment as you reach each milestone. Make sure your goals are detailed and clear. For example, saying you need to update your resume is not as specific as saying you need to add your latest job. The unambiguous second goal is easier to complete. A clear goal for your career simplifies the process of developing a clear course.
Track your progress, and don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t making as much headway as you’d like. Having deadlines for your goals is great, but cut yourself some slack if you aren’t always able to meet them. Your goals may be delayed, but as long as you continue to pursue them, your chosen career path will never be too far out of reach.
Track your inner animal. This may sound strange, but according to sociologist and life coach Martha Beck, this is the best way to figure out what career path you should pursue. “Grab a pen and make a list of every time you remember being utterly, happily absorbed in an activity, no matter how odd,” Beck says. “This focused attention is the hot track you’re looking for, evidence that your animal self was here.” By focusing on what your animal self loves and not what your rational brain says you should be doing, you can find a path that will lead to a career you truly enjoy.
Remind yourself that you don’t need to go at it alone. In fact, you’ll be much more successful if you have the support of a mentor or colleague who can help ease the transition and make connections. That support is priceless, especially if you’re shifting careers. Mentors are able to give you guidance, advice, and insight that can be crucial to making that next move, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. A mentor may be just what you need to move forward on your chosen career path.
Whether your next career move keeps you in the same field or shifts you into a new one, keep your knowledge and skills up to date through trainings, organizational memberships, and conferences. If you’re looking to move into a field that requires a skill you don’t currently have, take the time to learn it. You may opt to do this on your own—reading up on the topic and practicing it in your free time—but you can always attend a class or try one offered online at sites like Lynda.com that offer helpful tutorials.
Most importantly, believe in yourself. Know that you have the drive and ability to accomplish your goals and to embark on a career path that you will enjoy. Careers are ever changing, so don’t be afraid to try something new. Whether this is your first career or your tenth, use the tips above to make it your best career yet!