Getting started with a career pivot is as challenging as getting started writing a book. Both seem like great ideas, and they’re the stuff of daydreams and momentary fantasies. For the aspiring book writer or career changer, these are intoxicating thoughts until reality sets in, and we realize how difficult this work is actually to start and ultimately complete. 

For aspiring business book authors, I will direct you to my friend and author coach, Wally Bock. For everyone interested in jump-starting a career pivot, here are some important ideas to help you start strong. 

Four Actions to Help You Start Strong with Your Career Pivot

1. Treat Your Career Pivot Like a Project

Think about every workplace project you’ve been a part of during your career. These initiatives start as ideas on a slide or sheet of paper, and a group of people comes together to figure out how to turn the idea into reality. Along the way, they use a variety of tools to guide the process, test and retest ideas, and ultimately deliver a finished work product. 

While there’s more to the project process, the same issues apply to a career pivot. You need to employ a process that gives you ample opportunity to tune in to the customer (you), ideate, test, and then test again. I treat career makeovers as an agile project and I incorporate a good deal of design thinking along the way. 

2. The Career Reinvent™ Process Offers Guidance and Guardrails

Just as project managers have a process they follow, so must career reinventors. I’ve guided many professionals to find their perfect flavor of career reinvention, and I’ve lived this myself. There’s a process. It’s a little messy, but it’s critical. The Career Reinvent™ process includes the following stages:

  • Determination—What’s the right flavor of career reinvent for me?
  • Self-Discovery: What do I know (or what can I learn from others) about my superpowers, and how do my background and accumulated wisdom support my career makeover?
  • Exploration—What are the many ideas I might pursue, and ultimately, what are the few ideas where I have an interest, ability, and the idea might be marketable.
  • Experimentation—How do I evaluate my leading ideas for fit, especially for marketability?
  • Preparation—Once I’ve selected my idea, what do I have to do to bring it to life.
  • Launch—What’s “go time” for me?

While the steps are intuitive, there’s a fair amount of iteration between exploration and experimentation and ultimately, the process demands decisions at key points. I’ve learned through working with many professionals to support their career makeovers, this process provides guidance and offers guardrails. It gives direction to work that might be otherwise ambiguous and ensures adequate diligence at all steps. Of course, it helps if you have a guide. 

3. Get Help! No One Reinvents Alone!

 A client on a webinar recently asked me if this notion that no person reinvents alone was a pitch for my services. I loved the question, and here’s my direct response. This work is too hard to do without both an accountability partner and someone who can help you see yourself as others do. You need creative support. You need someone to push you. You need someone to keep you from giving up when the work gets difficult. So, whether you work with me, another career coach, or a swim buddy who you trust to give you frank feedback, find someone to help you!

4. Beware the Passion Trap

One of the controversial points I make in my Career Reinvent Boot Camps is: “Passion is not a prerequisite for your career makeover. Interest is essential but passion is emergent.” You need to be interested in an idea and ultimately have or obtain the abilities essential to execute the idea. And, you need to confirm that someone will pay you for this idea. Interest, ability, and marketability are crucial. Passion is not.

The Bottom-line for Now:

Writing a book or shifting to a new place in your career are challenging and just a bit daunting. Yet, the only way to generate success is to get to work. Books don’t write themselves until you put your hands on the keyboard, and careers don’t suddenly change unless you do the heavy lifting. If wondering how to get started is keeping you locked in place, reframe this work as a project, use a process, find help, and do the work.

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Check out Art Petty’s Career Reinvent Quick-Start (for individuals) and look for an upcoming new cohort in the  Career Reinvent Boot Camp

Explore the growing collection of Career Reinvention articles at Art’s blog.