Friday, April 8, 2011

Reinvention Step 1: Assessing Your Risk-Readiness

This post is part of the Reinventing your career series

Yes, most people would write 'assessing your risk tolerance' but that's largely focused on how much risk you think you can handle. In this case, we're talking about assessing your readiness to tackle the risks associated with making a career change, so it's a little different.

There are risks to career changes. You know the old saying, 'the devil you know' and all that, but how much fun has the devil you already know been lately? If you believe it's time for a career change, let's take a look at assessing the risks, so you can decide if you're ready.
  1. First, do you know what you want to be doing? If you have only a vague idea – 'I think I want to be a sommelier in a fine restaurant' or 'I think I want to manage an auto repair shop' – then you aren't ready. If you don't know at this moment what you want to be doing, then you've got some thinking to do first. Ask yourself each day (even every hour): “Is this what I want to be doing right now?” If the answer is no, then start asking yourself: “What do I want to be doing instead?”
  2. Next, do you know why you want to make that change? Once you've decide what you'd like to be doing, do you know why you want to make that change? It's not enough to say it's because you hate what you are doing because escaping from one career and jumping into another isn't the answer to landing where you are happy. You have to think about the reasons you want to make this change because change isn't easy. If you're fully invested in the change, then making it happen will seem easier even if it's still the same amount of work.
  3. Do you know what you want to get out of this change? Do you want a more flexible work schedule, better pay, a happier work environment? Not all career changes mean an open schedule, a bigger paycheck, or a stress-free workplace, but if that's your goal, then make it clear. The chances of making a successful career reinvention happen are better when the goals are clear.
  4. Do you know what it will take to get there? What skills do you have that apply to where you want to go now? What skills do you need to obtain? Any new career comes with a set of applicable skills, and having a full assessment of what you have and what you need can help you design a plan to get there.
If you're unsure that you want to make this change, consider visiting or volunteering in the job you want as a 'test run'. Seeing the new place will either inspire or frighten you, but either way, you'll know.

- Virginia

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