6 things to know before making a career pivot

If you have thought about making a career move that breaks the mold, this one’s for you.

Having spoken with hundreds of people who crave meaningful change in their careers, here’s one thing I’ve learned: many are confused, and most are terrified.

What follows are six things to know before making a career pivot. I have practiced these self-reflections before big career decisions, and I’ve taken others through them. Knowing these things brings clarity to your big move, ensures a more successful pivot, and helps with the terror, I promise!

1. Know what you love to do

There is so much out there on following your passion, and as many differing opinions on whether it’s actually something you “should” do. And while anyone can see that DOING what you love may or may not be a viable career path, KNOWING what you love to do certainly helps when making career decisions. So, what do you love to do? If you haven’t made your list, make it now.

2. Know what you value

We know that our values are the blueprint for sound life decisions. So why don’t we think and talk about our values more? Doing a simple exercise to clarify your values can eliminate so much guesswork, because you have a framework you can consciously work with to figure out what is going to work best for YOU.

For example, my top value is Evolution. When I feel like my ability to develop is impeded, I get frustrated. So a narrowly defined job in a slow moving company isn’t ideal for me. I do better with miles of runway and space to fail and grow. What are your top 3 values? If you want to do a simple values exercise, I created one: Get my Values Exercise here.

3. Know what you’re good at

What are the top things you’ve been recognized for? Think about feedback you consistently get at work, during performance reviews and casually. Think about what your friends ask you for advice on, and what the people in your life admire you for. Make a list of all your best skills. Most skills by definition are transferable – or at least they can be positioned that way. List 20 skills, then narrow them down to your genuine top skills.

4. Know what you dream of

There, I said it. WHAT YOU DREAM OF. Because you have dreams. I know you do. And the sooner you can get clear on what that dream actually looks like, the sooner we can put the rest of these puzzle pieces into place. Dream boldly, dream often, and dream on paper. Write it down and see what your subconscious mind has been waiting to tell you. Honestly, you might be surprised. What do you want? To quote the amazing Rachel Hollis, “Goals are Dreams with their work boots on.” Before you can put on the work boots, you need a dream.

5. Know how you’re marketable

Here’s where having a sense of the job market helps, and sometimes that means working with a coach to start to merge the picture together. Let me say this: what you’ve got can be packaged a million different ways. In order to package it properly for your desired outcome with your pivot, you need a sense of how you’re marketable.

What special experiences will stand out to your target employer? What aspects of your past workplaces, industries, positions, projects, etc., will help you shine where you want to go next? Look at yourself through the lens of what you’re moving towards, not what you’re moving away from. It can be a challenge because all you’ve known is your past. Your future, post-pivot, looks different. Know how you’re marketable, from your future.

6. Know what you’re willing to stand for

It’s not all unicorns and rainbows out here in the big world! With any major life change (career pivot definitely included), we run a real risk of romanticizing how this new move is going to take all of our problems away.

Truth: you will still have bad days on the other side of this change. The trick is, thinking about what that will feel like, ahead of time, and deciding what you’re willing to stand for. If your big change involves going back to school, you need to be ready to slog through exam preparation. If it involves moving to a client facing role, you better believe you’ll be on call, at least some of the time, to respond to your clients on their terms. Consider the worst day in your new life, and decide now whether you’re willing to stand for it. Is it worth all the good stuff your expecting? If it is, then you’re on the right track. Full speed ahead.


Want to chat 1:1 about your career? Book your free career strategy and intro to coaching session with me, HERE.

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