In 1990, Stephen Covey’s bestseller, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” burst onto the scene, helping people resolve personal and professional problems by adopting a simple yet powerful seven-step plan. The book was named by CEO Magazine as one of the two most influential business books of the 20th century and continues to inspire today.
Making a successful career change, like any life change, requires developing new habits. How can you incorporate Covey’s seven habits as you explore a career change?
1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you; seek them out. Make changes happen. The first steps may be simply recognizing that you desire a career change and seeking assistance to make one.
2. Begin with the end in mind. As Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice in Wonderland, if you don’t care where you want to get to, “then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” People with successful career changes care. They begin the journey with the career goal in mind.
3. Put first things first. Successful career changers prioritize and organize. They take the time to evaluate why they want to make a change, what they’re looking for and how to find it. They recognize the difference between switching jobs and changing careers. If you’re doing the former and not the latter, take time to find out why.
4. Think win-win. Improving your career path doesn’t just impact you; your family, friends and co-workers (old and new) also benefit. Your new contacts expand their potential professional network, your career change shows them that it’s possible to change the trajectory of their own professional path, and your new, more optimistic outlook will inspire them as well. People work an average of 90,000 hours in their lifetime. Spending that time doing something you enjoy is a win for everyone.
5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Telling people what you want is the first action step that often comes to mind: asking questions of people working in careers of interest; explaining to those around you what you’re looking for. But successful career changers listen first and speak later. Listen to that voice in your head that’s been offering suggestions. Pay close attention to those around you offering ideas. Seek first to understand the messages behind the feedback.
6. Synergize. Finding the right career can’t be accomplished alone. It takes collaboration at all stages. Working with a career coach can help you identify your best-fit career and solidify your professional goals. Meeting with people who work in careers that interest you is a great way to gain an insider’s view of what it’s really like to work in a given field. Just as an effective job search utilizes multiple resources, making a career change requires input from many.
7. Sharpen the saw. Keep yourself mentally, physically and spiritually refreshed. Career searching is a full-time job, but shouldn’t be done full-time. It can be tempting to let stress and anxiety overwhelm you, but maintaining an optimistic outlook, eating healthy, exercising and enjoying favorite activities are important for a successful career change. Incorporating these items into your to-do list will achieve positive results – and a healthier you – in the long run.
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