5 Essential Steps for Career Change or Growth

Author: Mark Danaher

5 Essential Steps for Career Change or Growth


Change is undoubtedly the only constant in life. Sure, there was a time when it was typical to spend a lifetime working in the same company. Times have changed, however, and there is a world of opportunities out there.

If you no longer find joy and excitement in your daily job, it is perfectly normal to take on some new challenges – the ones that will make your mind creative and fill your body and soul with enthusiasm and hope. Easier said than done, many will say. Quitting your job and finding a new one can be difficult. Things may be even more daunting if you are venturing out as an entrepreneur. Follow the steps I will discuss below so you can thrive during your career change and grow brilliantly. Trust me: you can do this!

So let’s dive into the five essential steps for career change or growth.

Step Back and Reflect

One of the most common and considerably harmful myths is that your career or growth trajectory should always be upward. After all, that is what they told us all in school, right? So do things right, work long and hard, and you will eventually climb that ladder. That works in many cases, but many people find that once they get there, they are not as happy as they expected to be.

Why? Well, many of us have been taught that going up is the only right way to go. But what happens when you reach the top and find that it is not what you desired? If you happen to be in this exact position at the moment, make sure to stop for a bit, take a breath, and reflect. The best thing to do is to self-evaluate and explore what you want for your career and life.

Think about your experiences, values, talents, and goals. Then, pinpoint the potential obstacles on your way and make a plan to conquer them. Think creatively and start making a clear vision of your path forward.

Let Go

Once you have defined your vision and your path, try not to second-guess yourself. Instead, look at things from this perspective. You have already been creative by stepping out of your comfort zone in search of what makes your heart beat with joy and excitement. Fear is a common enemy, but you can beat this trap by realizing the devastating cost of remaining in an emotionally exhausting job.

Do not think about the time you might “lose” if you fail. Never look at it as a failure. After all, challenges are excellent learning opportunities. There is not a person on this earth who does not face moments of self-doubt. Push through it, and do not hesitate to reach out to your support group – family, friends, and co-workers.

Say YES to Your Vision

When in self-doubt, take action! You already know your vision, personal values, talents, and strengths. Act on them instead of dwelling in fear. An excellent way to go about this is to look for some low-risk opportunities you can accomplish easily and quickly, to jump-start things in your favor. Then, take at least a tiny portion of your day and dedicate it to your first steps toward a career change. That is, you do not have to drop everything right away and start the chase for your ultimate dream.

Let me share a neat psychological trick with you that is proven to help immensely. The thing to do here is to embrace a positive attitude. DO NOT be a victim of the unknown. Trust your intuition and trust your capabilities. Just because you have a secure job and are doing okay does not mean you should stay there just for safety. Just trust your gut.

Try it On and Explore

Suppose you are still unready to take the plunge to quit your job and enter a new career: no harm there. Look for opportunities to volunteer, freelance, research your target field of interest. Better yet, if you have the time and money, take some classes. Embrace all the learning opportunities available to upgrade your skills and develop new ones to enhance your value to a prospective employer.

The networking connections you made up until this point can be of enormous help, as well as the new connections you will make along the way.

Create a SMART Goal

This step is the essential one. After all, you need to know your destination if you want to know how to get there. When it comes to SMART goals, a one-size-fits-all strategy is not a perfect tactic, simply because you are unique. A template will not make you stand out. However, you can define your career goals with a SMART goal framework.

SMART is an acronym that stands for “Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic with Timelines.” SMART makes your goals clearer by breaking them into smaller steps. You can learn more in my previous article about SMART goals.

Make sure you start with short-term goals, progressing to your long-term ultimate goal. Let’s say short-term goals are the ones that take 1-3 years to complete, while the long-term typically take 3-5 years to achieve. Accomplishing your short-term goals helps you reach your eventual long-term ones.

Being specific is helpful, but make sure you do not overdo it. After all, if you make your goals too precise and narrow, it will be much harder to achieve them.

Obtain clarity on how you will work to reach your goals. You should be aware of the actions you have to take to get where you want to be. Try explaining your steps; if you are having trouble doing that, break your goal into smaller ones.

Finally, do not be impatient. Be realistic with your goals timeline and be prepared to revise strategies if you encounter some obstacles all the way. Timeline is not as important as keeping your eyes on the prize.

You can do this. Good luck!