How to Navigate Career Changes with Confidence

A pandemic, an economic downturn, and a reassessment of what really matters to us is resulting in a massive shifting of careers. Many are using this pandemic as an opportunity to pivot industries, learn new skills, or even start a business. Whether a big career change is by your own choosing, or it was thrust upon you, walking into an unknown situation can be anxiety inducing.

Your ability to quiet your fear and step into this new adventure with confidence will lay the groundwork for a successful and rewarding next play. Here are some tips to help you start strong:

  1. Don’t burn your bridges

I know, you’re eager to dive head first into this new adventure. Before you leap, make sure you’re not leaving people who helped you get to where you are in the dust. BE proactive about staying in touch with people from your previous roles, even if your departure wasn’t your ideal plan. Those people will go on to be connections, colleagues, or customers of your in another venture. The world is smaller than you think.

  1. Set yourself up for success

When you’re entering a new role, ask your new boss what success looks like in the first 30, 60, and 90 days. In a rapidly changing (virtual) world, onboarding is often brief at best. Take the initiative to make sure you’re clear on expectations. If you’re going out on your own, research the habits of successful entrepreneurs, learn what others in your space have done, and set realistic, timebound goals for yourself. It will help quiet some of the, “I hope I’m doing this right” feeling.

  1. Keep non-career elements of your life steady

If you can avoid it, don’t change jobs, houses, and husbands all at the same time. Your brain needs a sense of peace and stability in some elements to free up space and adapt to a new career change. Having a steady base will also help you be resilient if you run into some early challenges.

  1. Stay flexible

Remember, even if your next play doesn’t turn out exactly like you wanted, the experience will help you in the long run. In the new book, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized Worldauthor David Epstein cites his research of the world’s top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, to demonstrate why early specialization is the exception, not the rule, for long-term achievement.

In fact, high performers often find their paths late; they juggle many interests, and explore a huge breadth of ideas before becoming a high performer. For example, Andrew Mason, the founder of Groupon, has a degree in music. Steve Jobs considered calligraphy to be one of his most important classes. In Range, Epstein makes the case that these high achievers don’t succeed despite their career tangents, they succeed because of them.

No matter how thorough the interview or how much research you did about this new opportunity, there is no crystal ball. And that’s ok. Make peace with the fact you will not know exactly how things will pan out.

Changing careers can be an exciting time, yet many people let the fear of things not going perfectly rob them of this crucial journey. Lean into new opportunities with the confidence you can navigate this adventure.