Somewhere between being remarkably under employed and painfully over worked I learned that it’s possible for fear to trespass on your sanity and arrest your ability to execute a well thought out plan for escape. Even in the most uncomfortable conditions it is still possible that fear will cause you to remain stuck when all you want is to do is leap. This is especially true when we need additional reassurance that when we leap we will land in a secure spot. Never has this been more true than when considering a huge career change. Whether you love your current position but need more money, or just know that it’s time for you to explore your passions and professionally move on, making that change can be hard. Drastically changing a career can be challenging but it’s doable.  Not only is it doable, but as the year comes to a close NOW is the perfect time to start to plan for that career shift in 2017. To help you take that leap spoke to 3 ladies who changed careers to either pursue their passion or respond to an ever demanding economy.  Each contributed to these 10 steps for making a huge career change in 2017.

Slow progress is still progress

As an Audio Producer/Radio Station Owner/ Podcast Consultant and Engineer with Bondfire Radio Keisha Dutes considers herself a “hybrid lancer”. She is managing to make that successful transition from the nursing field to full time in audio production. Dutes states  “I had one foot in and one foot out. I was dying inside. I knew I had to leave the position I was in, but I had to do it responsibly… I still had bills to pay, so I made a plan.” Her plan consisted of the following:

  • Transition out. Use baby steps. Dutes recalls “I’ve jumped off the bridge before with hopes of flying. It didn’t work. I fell on my face. I learned to slowly transition out. I slowly cut hours at my “main job” I replaced those hours with professional opportunities that would help my long term exit strategy.
  • Don’t be afraid of making difficult choices. “ I know what I am about to say usually comes with a stigma, but it’s real. If at any point you need to obtain  public assistance go get it. For some people cutting back your hours on the job can have real consequences. However, the reality is if you’re dying at your conventional job you’re not useful there or in any area of your life. You may need to make difficult choices to aid in your transition if it ultimately helps preserve your peace”. Just remember it’s a temporary sacrifice for a permanent goal.”
  • Apply a college approach. “In college I took mandatory classes and electives I enjoyed to keep things balanced. When shifting careers I focused my energy ( because I had to) on my current position, but I also made sure to allocate time to enhance my skills for my intended position.”
  • Free up your life and create space to learn. “ In order to grow you must make space for it in your life. It’s really that simple
  • Be your own litmus test. Look at your own measurements for success. Avoid looking at how quickly others are flourishing in their desired field. Reflect back on your own goals and measure your progress by what you accomplished
  • Avoid using “things” to fill your void. “Often times when people are miserable in their current position they make purchases thst will provide temporary relief. It usually just creates more bills, which ultimately prolongs your exit plan.”

Sometimes you may leap more than once…and that’s ok

From public school teacher to corporate world and now finally the Co-creator of the urban travel magazine Griots Republic, Davita McKelvey has never been afraid to make that leap. Along the way she learned a few noteworthy points that complimented what Dutes shared.

  • Unpack your baggage. “Before you can make a successful leap you have to travel light. This means eliminating toxic thinking. You have to know that regardless of where you land you will be fine. At some point you have to trust yourself. I’ve traveled to more than 90 countries alone. In my travels I’ve made mistakes and had to fix things as I went. I learned that I have the power to do that. I apply this same principle to career changes. Unpacking your baggage may also mean getting rid of toxic people in your life. You can’t carry everybody with you when you leap. Some people simply don’t believe they are capable of small things so they won’t understand when you say you can accomplish even seemingly impossible things. Don’t try to convince them. Just leave them. Another thing to unpack is your financial baggage. Leaving the security of your current job isn’t always easy, and you don’t know what type of financial obstacles you may face. It’s better if you prepare yourself by unpacking some financial baggage and get rid of some debt first.

Retirement  no longer means an end of a career

Weather it’s for financial reasons or you simply find that not working daily wasn’t exactly what you thought it would look like, sometimes  you have to make a career leap  AFTER retirement. The latter is true for retired New York Police Lieutenant Commander Vertel Martin.  Martin, now a Criminal Justice Professor at Northampton Community College, was the highest ranking officer in internal affairs during the 9/11 attack. Martin offers practical strategies for woman taking a career leap after retirement.

  • Reinvent a career by taking those same skills you’ve always had and apply them differently. “ Leading a task force to resolve thousands of missing persons reports after 9/11 wasn’t an easy task. It was obviously new. We didn’t anticipate this attack, thus NYPD didn’t already have a task force specifically designed for this. I had to learn new skills as I taught and managed other officers. After retirement I parlayed these teaching skills into the world of academia.
  • Sharpen your skills. “College education isn’t the only way to sharpen your skills. “ Don’t be afraid to learn a new skill. Go online and find workshops and skill trainings suitable to an area of interest.”
  • Spend time with others who have built a successful career after retirement. “ Often times fear is the result of disorientation. You may need to see a person who made a successful career leap in order to get orientated and remind yourself that it’s possible.

Taking a huge career leap is all about change. Change, even when we desperately crave it isn’t easy. It’s almost like there is an internal tug of war between the comfort of predictability and the uncertainty of what this leap could entail. It’s a threat  to your norm. It may require you to consider things outside of your comfort level .This is no easy task, but Jay Z got it right when he said difficulty takes a day and impossible takes a week.  You can do this! Unpack your baggage, sharpen your skills, throw on your big girl panties and make the tough calls. If doors are closed in your face in 2016 kick the ceiling off and leap in 2017!