A lot has changed over the last two years and, perhaps that has you thinking it’s time to shake things up and possibly make a big career change. It can feel tempting to daydream about doing something else, something entirely new. But is it really possible? Can you really do it? Are you ready to make a big change? Where does reality factor in?
When you feel frustrated or fatigued at work – whether it’s with the workload, the culture, your role, your boss or a teammate – it can be easy to believe that different is better. But is the grass always greener? These uncertain times present an opportunity to rethink, to reinvent, to restart, but like any change, you have to be prepared and planful.
When considering a big career change, it’s important to first assess your personal tolerance for change. This means looking back on other times in your life and career when you’ve made a big change. Was it a big dramatic change, a measured and calculated change, or a subtle conservative step towards possible change? Gauging your tolerance for risk can also provide clues to your ability to make a big shift.
Not Always a Big Change
First, it is important to note that change doesn’t have to mean BIG change. The more frustrated or entrenched someone is often drives their desire for a big change to move beyond a painful place. But sometimes subtle change can have a big effect. Perhaps you can explore a new role within your current organization. Or if you really love your job, but just need a change of scenery and it’s time to move to a new and different organization.
There are 101 ways to make a career change and they don’t all involve moving across the country, changing industries or starting over in the most traditional sense. It’s possible to seek out the change you need without changing everything!
A Question of Risk
Let’s return to your tolerance for risk. In a dreamy state, big change might seem attractive. You glamorize the experience in your mind, visualizing how different your life will be after this big change. But if you’ve never made big shifts before or you generally avoid risky situations at all costs, a big change might not be the right fit for you. Some people just don’t have the stomach for it.
Part of assessing your tolerance for risk is understanding the tradeoffs you are willing to make. Change, big or small, is about tradeoffs. Whether or not the grass is greener in another role or with another company, you will sacrifice things you currently love and also find new things to love about your new role or organization. Understanding this upfront sets you up for success, because it’s better to approach a career change, especially a big one, with clear expectations and a strong dose of reality. The dreamy state won’t last forever.
Doing the Work
Lastly, ask yourself if this is the right time for a career change. Change takes time, capacity, effort and sometimes cash. Big changes require doing the work upfront to prepare you for what is to come. So, ask yourself if you are being realistic about the hard work required to make this change. This means doing the inner work – assessing yourself, your skill set, exploring your interests and experience, and determining how best to package in a marketable way.
It’s also important to remember that the work takes time. Do you have the patience? Knowing what your new thing is and understanding the points of entry can come through self-assessment, research and coaching to determine what is needed.
If you’ve decided that a big change is for you – this article is a great follow up as you prepare for your big career change. Of particular interest is the importance of understanding why you want to make a big change and this aligns with much of what we’ve talked about above. We tend to glamorize change in our minds, so understanding the catalyst for change – the why – is important in preparing for the actual change and feeling confident as you move forward.