How To Get Your Career Change In Motion

Changing careers can be like taking a train trip. You plan it, start at one location and go to your ultimate destination, with stops in between. (Sorry, there are no non-stop career trains.) The basics for getting started are scheduling your departure time and showing up at the station. Here’s how to get yourself moving.

Decide when you are leaving.
There are many reasons to procrastinate about changing careers. Procrastination is not laziness; it is a decision to do nothing. Fear is the main reason for procrastination — fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of making a mistake. What is your fear? Identify it, acknowledge it and accept that you are afraid. Then decide what first step (even a small one) you will take within the next week to get around that roadblock.

Packing your bag.
A key to success is what you will take along with you. Make sure your luggage includes optimism, enthusiasm and determination. Jon Stewart of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” was interviewed recently on CBS’s “60 Minutes.” When asked what his big break had been, he said, “Deciding that — come hell or high water, no turning back — I am going to do [comedy] and get as good as I can get.”

Who’s seeing you off at the station?
There may be both cheerleaders and detractors. Listen to each of them, but choose carefully which advice you are going to take with you. Jerome Lemelson invented the camcorder. His first patent application (in 1977) was rejected because the patent examiner decided that video recorders could not possibly be reduced to a portable size. Mr. Lemelson was not discouraged.

Are you going to enjoy the ride?
A career change involves many steps. Enjoy each accomplishment and the feelings of exhilaration, satisfaction and self-approval that come with it. Without that enjoyment, can there be true feelings of progress? Successful people enjoy both the journey and the arrival.

Who’s on the train with you?
Don’t stay in your compartment. There will be interesting and valuable people to talk to on your journey. Think of it like a scavenger hunt. They have information for you; your mission is to meet them and ask questions.

What if you find yourself on the wrong train?
It happens. Winners make the most mistakes because they take the most risks. If you have to change trains, think of it as a course correction and keep moving.

What if there’s no one to meet you at your destination?
OK, you’ve arrived at your new career and started sending out resumes, but no one is showing up to welcome you. What’s next? Be persistent and believe in yourself. Rod Serling (creator of “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery” TV shows) received forty rejection slips in a row while he was waiting for his big break. He kept his day job and, despite the rejections, never stopped writing or submitting his stories.

Make this your success strategy for the month: Get going and keep moving. Starting with just one tiny step each week is still a beginning. As Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”


by Jane Allen

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