The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to change careers?” is by Sarah Kauss, CEO and co-founder of S’well.
There are many events in life that can cause stress and anxiety, but transitioning into a new career may be one of the most stressful. You’re taking huge risks and sacrificing valuable time to invest in your professional dreams, fully aware that there is no guarantee you will be successful. It can be a daunting task but, as many entrepreneurs can attest to (including myself), the challenges are surmountable and the benefits can lead to numerous opportunities for growth.
Having made several career changes throughout my professional journey–from finance to real estate to entrepreneur of reusable bottles–I’ve learned that there are a number of ways that can make the transition a much more enjoyable (and comfortable) process. Three particular pieces of advice instantly come to mind:
Facing the unknown will always be daunting. But thinking of the short-term move in relation to your long-term career objectives can help make a career transition more appealing. Whether your new role turns out to be a hit or a miss, knowing how it fits into the bigger picture can help ease the stress of creating a new path.
While serving as a CPA early in my career, I gained access to the startup community. It helped ignite my personal passion for entrepreneurship. As I moved from CPA and into other industries, I knew my end goal was different from my present situation and that my current job was just one step in a longer journey to career happiness.
Build upon the skills you already have
No matter where you go, you have the opportunity to build on existing skills and find opportunities to create new ones. By understanding what capabilities you’re fostering and being open to how they can be used moving forward, you’ll always set yourself up for success. This takes the pressure off of making a career-move mistake and allows you to look at each position as a positive opportunity for growth.
Even when I realized a particular role wasn’t right for me anymore, I was able to take an optimistic approach when looking for my next job by acknowledging the variety of skills I had learned previously. It helped me feel confident with each decision I made and certain that the next choice would continue to guide me to my ultimate goal.
Learn on someone else’s dime
If you’ve realized you want to be an entrepreneur, but aren’t sure if you have the skills to launch your business just yet, find a position that will allow you to gain those missing skills. There is unbelievably less pressure to learn on the first try or “before the funds run out” when someone else is paying your way.
I knew that I didn’t want to be in finance–and then real estate–forever. However, I also accepted with each position that they offered immense learning opportunities. I was educating myself on the ins and outs of organizations that I was passionate about with less skin in the game. Remember: As long as you are working with good people, building relationships, and expanding your network, you’ll pick up the knowledge necessary to be successful in the future. This will keep you relevant and valuable, even when you feel like the inexperienced newbie.
Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What’s your best piece of advice for someone looking to change careers?
Are you really ready to change careers? by Sandhya Venkatachalam, co-founder and partner of Centerview Capital.
3 things you should know before changing careers by Lars Albright, co-founder and CEO of SessionM.
Is changing careers worth the risk? by Beezer Clarkson, managing director at Sapphire Ventures.
Thinking of changing careers? Here’s what you need to knowby Shafqat Islam, CEO of NewsCred.
When you should (and shouldn’t) change careers by Ryan Harwood, CEO of Purewow.
3 things you need to know before joining a startup by Sunil Rajaraman, co-founder of Scripted.com.
How to successfully change careers (at any age) by Matthew Salzberg, CEO and founder of Blue Apron.
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