This is a question I am often asked by people when I share with them my own career story or talk to them about career coaching. My answer though can surprise them. Yes identifying transferrable skills is important, having connections in your chosen new career/industry helps and having experience can be advantageous but these are not critical. You can learn new skills, you can meet new people and you can gain experience.
In my own career journey I have moved companies, countries and changed professions and when I reflect and think about what made the difference, what was it that enabled me to achieve success in my new chosen career it comes down to these components:
Get clear – If you are waiting for that lightbulb moment when suddenly you figure out what it is you want to do then good luck because you could be waiting a long time! You need to put some thought into this to find your 'sweet spot.' The point where your passion/interests meet your skills and strengths and where you can make money. To think about what you want out of life, to think about what interests you, what intrigues you, what you are passionate about. To reflect on your career to date, what do the highs and lows have in common.
Through this reflection time, ideas will start to form and equally as important you will gain clarity on what you don’t want. This is the start of your journey.
Positivity – As those ideas form you need to watch out for that inner voice which starts to poo-poo your ideas. You're about to step outside of your comfort zone and your sub-conscious will want to protect you from the unknown. Recognise when this is happening, but don’t let it take over and close down an idea. It’s important to keep an open mind and be positive. When you hear that inner voice telling you, you don't have the skills, or you won't be good enough, acknowledge it but then let it go and allow yourself to investigate these ideas further. You won’t have all the answers but over time the fog will clear. Trust the process!
Taking Action – Thinking alone will not get you that new career. You need to take those thoughts and build on them with action. Taking action will give you the clarity, the connections, the opportunities and the answers you need to take that leap. There may be a company, a job, a career that interests you but you can’t see your route in. By talking to others, by looking for opportunities to interact with people in your chosen area, you may find that there are other entry points that you weren’t aware of before. Is there an opportunity to trial the job in some way, volunteer, be a customer, participate in a free or low-cost course that gives you greater insight, an online group that you can join? Think about actions that will give you exposure, information and an opportunity to ‘try on’ your potential chosen career.
Courage – Being brave to live with the uncertainty can be hard, but think about when you first started in your current career, you didn’t know everything you didn’t have all the answers but you coped. As you start to explore potential new career adventures you will gain clarity, obtain more information and understand how this could potentially work for you and align to your career and life aspirations. The big steps we take in life don’t have certainty. When you married or moved in with your partner, when you decided to have a child, you didn’t know for certain how it was going to pan out but you had the courage to take that step forward.
Life is short, why spend your time doing a job that drains you, makes you unhappy and turns you into a 'Negative Nelly'.