Changing one’s career path takes initiative, and often it’s not straightforward. However, the end result is worth the effort – it’s just a matter of getting from here to there. Based on my own recent experience in changing careers, the following may be useful to consider:
Reach out to and extend the fringes of your network – they are more likely to lead you to your new field than the people who have been core to you in your prior incarnation. Treat networking as part of your job description, and always have your business card with you. Test those six degrees of separation, and remember to formally thank the people you have met.
Tell everyone what you are trying to do – if they don’t know, they can’t help, and most people want to help. Plus, it helps to practice your “elevator pitch”.
Reframe the way you present yourself – work on developing your new brand with the goal of making it less risky for others to choose you. Figure out what is important to the people in your target career and how they think; position yourself in a way that will make them see you as like-minded (you need a certain degree of commonality to convince them that you can successfully adapt) yet someone who can distinctly add value. These days, most adults will have at least seven jobs over the span of their career, and it helps to think of yourself as an independent agent and learn to market yourself effectively. If you have been a banker who has done a lot of coaching and mentoring, you are also an experienced coach and mentor who happens to have been a banker. Your story is your story and it has to hang together, but there are a variety of ways you can tell it.
Build on your existing strengths and expertise – they are a bridge to your new era of meaningful work, and they make it easier to succeed in your new mission. As tempting as it is to completely change direction and close the door on the past, it helps to build on at least some of the capabilities that got you this far. Sometimes, there are no non-stop flights from where you are to where you want to go. However, a series of connecting flights can ultimately get you there.
Keep at it – life is indeed a journey, and the important thing is to just keep going, even if you need to make midcourse corrections. Resilience is an important ingredient to a long, happy and prosperous carer.
I wish you all the best for yours.