Smooth sailing to a new career: 5 top tips

Changing careers can be a daunting prospect, especially if you’ve been working in the same field for a long time and are used to a reliable salary, even if you hate the job you’re in.

The nagging feeling that you could be doing something more enjoyable, fulfilling, and rewarding may be gnawing at you, but the thought of making a wrong move can be paralysing, leaving you feeling stuck.

However, I’m here to assure you that it is possible to make a successful career transition without trauma. Read my 5 tips on how to make your career move smooth sailing to see how.

1 – Take the time to understand yourself, what you want and why

Taking the time to understand yourself and your motivations is critical. 

Start by using self-discovery tools like these to identify your strengths, personal qualities, and hidden talents that can be leveraged in your new career. Knowing what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing is an essential place to start your journey. 

Additionally, understanding your core values and what matters most to you can help you determine what kind of work aligns with your beliefs and goals. 

READ MORE: Getting to Know Your Core Values: The Ultimate Guide

It’s also important to identify your ‘why’ for changing careers, whether it’s to pursue a passion, improve your work-life balance, or gain new experiences. Keeping your WHY front of mind will help you stay committed to the process, even when faced with challenges or setbacks. 

To narrow down your career options, consider what type of work you want to do on a day-to-day basis and what your ‘must-haves’ are. And if you’re not sure where to start, thinking about what you definitely don’t want can help you get this ball rolling! 

With a solid understanding of yourself and your goals, you’re going to be off to a solid start, and able to make informed decisions along the way. 

This important foundational work can be quite intense, so you may want to consider working with a coach to make the process easier.

One of my recent coaching clients was a lady who had worked in finance for 15 years. Although great at her job, she did not feel fulfilled but didn’t know why. After doing some exercises on purpose, values and strengths, it turned out that what she was really suited to (and made her eyes light up) was being in a people-focused role, with lots of human interaction. In other words, the exact opposite of number crunching on a computer all day long.

2 – Make a plan

If you want to reap the rewards of a career change, it really pays to make a plan with a timeline and financials.

A big career move could take a few years to accomplish, so it’s important to be honest with yourself from the outset.

Take the time to sit down and work out what needs to happen in the short term and long term. Plan for the next 6 months, 1 year, and 3 years, and include financial projections such as the costs of training or going part-time in your current job in order to gain experience in the new industry.

If you want your career change to go smoothly, make a plan and revisit it monthly to review your progress and make adjustments.


Career change inspiration

From desk job to deer park: A career transition to the great outdoors
Read how June Jackson transitioned from civil servant to country park manager.

From classroom to cask ale: How I quit teaching to become a brewer
Read how Sue Fisher gave up her teaching career to brew beer for a living.


3 – Don’t skip the research phase

Making a plan to change your career can be exciting, but it’s important not to skip the research phase. Before making any plans towards your goal, it’s crucial to do your due diligence and ensure that you’re aiming for the right thing.

A new industry may hold surprises, both good and bad. By speaking to people within the industry or even the actual company you want to join, you can gain insight into what to expect in terms of salary ranges, the upsides and downsides, and opportunities for career progression – not to mention what the day-to-day is really like.

Consider interviewing people at trade fairs, like Sue Fisher did.

RELATED: Give Networking A Chance – Why It Should Be Part Of Your Career Strategy

Also consider volunteering in your spare time (like June Jackson did). Don’t see it as working for free, but rather, important research. It will allow you to test the waters and gain firsthand knowledge and skills that can help you make a successful transition. You might even end up in a new role as a result of it.

So don’t rush into things – take the time to do your homework and ensure that you’re making the right move for your future.

4 – Maintain the right mindset

Smooth sailing to your new career requires the right mindset. 

This means believing that it’s possible to achieve your goals and create the career path that you want for yourself.

One important step in developing this mindset is to work on your limiting beliefs. It’s important to understand where these beliefs have come from and how they may be holding you back.

Take a moment to listen to the negative voice inside your head. What is it saying to you? Do you really believe these thoughts and beliefs? Often, these limiting beliefs are rooted in fear and self-doubt, but by recognising them and challenging them, you can begin to shift your mindset in a more positive direction.

5 – Keep moving forward

Making a career change can be a long and challenging journey, especially if it involves retraining and obtaining new qualifications. It’s not uncommon to face setbacks along the way that can make you feel weary and discouraged.

However, by staying fuelled by your vision and ‘why’, as well as maintaining a positive mindset, you can find a way to navigate around these obstacles and stay on course towards your career goal.

One way to stay motivated and on track is by working with a career coach. A career coach can help re-energise you and provide valuable guidance and support as you navigate the challenges of making a career change. 

With the right mindset and support, you can stay focused and committed to your career change journey, and ultimately achieve the success and fulfilment that you’re looking for.

Clara Musama

Clara Musama is a certified Career & Leadership Coach, and founder and Lead Coach of Baqwetu Coaching – helping clients to bridge the gap between what they want and what they do, and unlocking the potential of leaders and their teams.

Add comment

Relationships