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Pre Retirees....This May Be Of Interest: Career Change Isn't About Speed. It's About Momentum

By Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.

By way of analogy, if you want to go three blocks, you walk. Want to get there sooner? Walk faster. Slower? Stop and take a few breaks along the way.

But career change is more like building up strength. Today you can lift just 20 pounds. If you just add on another 30 pounds, you'll probably get injured. Now your whole exercise program gets put on hold.

Instead, you make a commitment. You're in the gym three or four times a week. You keep lifting 20 pounds. One day you feel like you're lifting a pile of feathers. Then you lift 25 for awhile…then 30. And one day you realize you've reached a new level. You look different. Your old clothes feel loose. Wow…

For a successful career change:

(1) Set a goal. Your goal may change as you go along, just as your fitness goals change.

(2) Commit to an activity level. You won't get very fit if you work out fifteen minutes twice a week.

In my experience, you need to invest 4 to 8 hours a week to achieve career change. If you can't invest the time, your challenge is to rearrange your work and life so you find the time.

(3) Decide what you will do when life gets in the way. You have to attend a special program or your family needs support. How will you make up the time?

(4) Find a way to enjoy the journey. I've seen people give up on fitness because they hated working with machines, or they couldn't stand running or aerobics classes.

You may be the kind of person who needs a return to school, a weekly coaching session, or a new location. Some people postpone their career changes until they can pay for this kind of support comfortably. Or they find creative ways to finance their career change.

(5) Hang out with like-minded people. These days most of my friends are into fitness. It's inspiring to be around people who choose new ways of eating, exercising and living.

And on your career journey, choose your associates wisely. You can't afford to spend time with anyone who says, “Why fight the system?” or, “We're in a recession. What makes you think you can do something different?”

Instead, find people who have achieved career success on their own terms. Get support from others who took charge of their careers and those who look forward to going to work each day.