As with any task worth putting your time and effort into, a key factor in making a successful career change is the way you approach it. Your daily practices can have an enormous impact on the shape your journey takes and the outcome it leads to. Below are 3 habits for staying motivated during a career change that you can put in place immediately and come back to if you feel self-doubt starting to take hold.

1. Accept responsibility

The easiest way to talk yourself out of pursuing a career change (or any goal, for that matter) is to think about all the reasons you won’t succeed. Most of the time, these reasons aren’t about you at all but about external factors that you believe you can’t control – things like not having a related degree or not knowing anyone in the industry.

The minute you stop thinking of yourself as a participant in your professional journey and realize that you are the designer of the journey, you accept responsibility for where you are and where you want to get to. You stop thinking about all the reasons a career change isn’t viable and start thinking about all the steps you can realistically take to make it happen. You find ways to use your experience to date and the job you’re in now to boost your chances, not diminish them.

Most importantly, you take back control of your professional path. Once you do that, you can start to reshape the circumstances instead of just reacting to them.

2. Work with your circumstances

Remember that anything is possible, but not everything is likely. Some things really do come down to being in the right place at the right time, including a career change.

If you live in the middle of New York and your dream job is to run a farm, transforming that dream from a possibility into a likelihood will involve some major life adjustments. If you studied law but what you really wanted was to become a nurse, you’ll either have to consider going back to school to get qualified or brainstorm ways to bridge your current background and experience with your true calling. If your situation is similar to one of these, it doesn’t mean a career change isn’t possible, but it does mean you should be open to different ways of achieving it.

Think of the path not as a straight line from A to Z, but as a motorway with several lanes and hundreds of cars travelling at different speeds to different places. You can’t get to your dream job by jumping out of your car and into someone else’s. Instead, you must move into the right lane and adjust your speed and direction accordingly. You may even find as you go through the process that your career change doesn’t look exactly the way you’d pictured at the beginning.

3. Take baby steps every day

The simple truth is that if you want to do something you haven’t done before professionally speaking, you have to prove you’ll be able to do it. No company is going to hire you simply because you’re ready for a career change and it’s your dream to work with them. You need to come to the table with something – anything – to show them your commitment. One way to do this is to start taking baby steps today towards the professional space you want to occupy tomorrow.

Say you’re an accountant who’s realized after several years that your real passion is teaching. Think: is there anything you can start doing now that will get you just a tiny bit closer to your dream career? Perhaps you might volunteer to train a new colleague or conduct a workshop. Maybe you could freelance on the weekends as a tutor for college students taking accounting classes.

Small steps like this can give you some relevant experience, which will put you in a stronger position once you start job-hunting. But much more importantly, finding ways to do the work you love while you work towards the job you want will make you feel fulfilled, productive, and in control of your career change. This positive buzz will ripple throughout the whole of your journey and keep you moving in the right direction.

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