Over the years, I’ve learned that in order to master a career pivot, you have to get over your doubts and fears, take a leap of faith, and do a bit of engineering of your own serendipity.
I decided to start my company because there was a problem I wanted to solve. I found a disconnect between the information I saw in the female-focused media space and what women wanted to actually consume. My commitment to making a difference and providing thought-provoking content for creative, confident millennial women is as strong today as it was when I started out. In retrospect, though, I can’t help but think to myself, “Woah. That was really reckless.”
This, after all, was my life. And I took a big leap of faith.
For anyone considering a career change or radically relaunching a career, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way that may help you get started.
How Do I Start?
First, take a few deep breaths. It can take months to successfully start a pivot, and the biggest hurdle is deciding that you’re ready for a change. When you’re ready, focus on these five things.
1. Brand Yourself — Without Bragging
Remember the art of the humble brag. That confidence you have? Time to use it. When you want to pivot or change your career, you need to make the case that you will crush it and that you’re the person to do it. It’s possible that you may have to deploy some strategic storytelling to do this. Think carefully about how you can cultivate your own brand.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you become an influencer. But do tell — and sell — your story. One of the smartest things I did for my career was to tell everyone what I was doing even before I did it, which effectively sold my brand to my network. If you are pivoting, change the word “sell” to “communicate.” By sharing your story, you will authentically communicate your brand to your network.
2. Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Career pivots are hard, and they’re not for everyone. Before you pull the trigger, do your research. Then be prepared to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The best way to feel comfortable is to embrace the “fake-it-’til-you-make-it” ethos celebrated in the tech world. It’s true, and it may even trick your brain into thinking you’re experiencing success.
3. Lean Into Your Strengths
When you look at successful people, you’ll notice they have a lot in common — from a strong work ethic to confidence that’s contagious. And while it may seem like it takes natural intellect to be successful, that isn’t necessarily always the case.
One thing all successful people have in common is that they focus on their strengths and work around their weaknesses. If you want to make a successful career change, look first at your strengths and the skills you already have and build on them. Don’t feel like you need to completely shift gears to be successful. On the contrary, looking first at where you excel is the key to success.
4. Nurture Your Network, And Play In Traffic
Networking is one of the most effective ways to build a successful career. If you think about it, so much of your success can probably be boiled down to who you know and who knows you.
Do not underestimate the value of your network. Even the weak connections you have with acquaintances will often help you get ahead more than close ones. Trust me on this one: Loose connections are how I got my first big business as an entrepreneur.
And by networking, I’m not talking about schmoozing. It’s more about learning new things, sharing ideas and learning about business developments you wouldn’t otherwise hear about.
5. Shake Off Setbacks
Everyone fails. And in fact, the people who fail the most are often incredibly successful. Billionaire Richard Branson had his share of career miscalculations, and he credits his overwhelming success to his ability to shake them off and move forward. In my experience, the mark of someone who can pivot successfully is the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
It’s that easy?
Yes. But, I’ll leave you with one final thought: Making a career change can be intimidating. Take it one day at a time and remember you can do anything. Good luck.