Changing Careers, One Rock at a Time

Most of us are going to change career directions a few times in our life. Sometimes we’re forced to, like travel agents who found their services made obsolete by etickets and online travel booking. Often, a job just slowly grew boring and we’re just ready for a change. Sometimes, we wake up one day and realize we hate our job. Or we get inspired with a new passion that we feel inspired to follow.

There are lots of reasons a career redirection or makeover might be in order, and advice about how to do it makes up a lot of the coaching work I do, as people ask me how to get from here to there.

My answer is always the same: It’s just like crossing a stream, when you want to get from this side to that side… you do it one rock at a time.

Let’s say you’ve been a bookkeeper for years, but your new dream is to be a web designer. That’s a pretty big stream to cross, since there really isn’t a whole lot of overlap between these two career paths, except that they both sit at a desk to work… or is there?

Look more closely, and see if you can identify some rocks, some steps in between, that will help you ford that stream. Then make your change one rock at a time.

Here’s a big rock: what if you started doing bookkeeping for a web design company? That is a solid step in the right direction, since you’re now working in the web design industry. Next, stepping one rock farther, you take web design classes at night and start building the technical skills you need to have. Next, and another big rock, you can volunteer to do the website for your friend’s new business or a nonprofit that needs some help, and you start to create a portfolio that shows the quality of your work.

Stop and look back, and you’ll see that you’re almost there, and the other side is in sight, because now you are qualified, have insight into the industry, and a portfolio of real sites that you’ve created. Now you actually have a chance to get that job as a web designer.

How long will it take? That’s up to you and how focused you are. The most important thing is that you have a clear sense of the direction you’re going, and that you take some time to picture what possible rocks there are for you to step on as you get from where you are to where you want to be.

Comments are closed.