So it is a new year—time for a clean slate, a fresh start, and a brand new chance to shake things up. If a career change is on your horizon, now’s the perfect moment to get a running start. We’ve rounded up six practical tips to make 2013 your best, brightest, and least stressful year yet.
1. Focus on the Positive
When you’re tackling a big life transition, it’s easy to get distracted by negative thoughts about what’s not working. While it’s important to recognize obstacles, constantly obsessing about them is guaranteed to keep you running in place. Get yourself out of a cynical headspace by turning your attention to concrete, action-based goals for your future. To keep the positive mood going, schedule career-change milestone to celebrate in the coming months.
2. Figure Out What You Can Control and Let Go of the Rest
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” The famous words of the serenity prayer can apply to your career change too. Write down a list of what’s making you anxious or concerned about your career change. Then cross off any areas that are outside of your control. This exercise can help you focus your energy on what’s actually in your power to change or improve.
3. Do Something Each Day Your Future Self Will Thank You For
Sometimes the big-picture goals—like finding a new career, getting a new degree, or landing a new job—can seem overpowering. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by long-term plans, zero-in on the little-picture goals instead. What are the small steps you can take today, tomorrow, and the next day to reach your aim? By taking action each day, you will not only feel more in control, you can be confident that you’re making progress.
4. Build Better Connections and Friendships
If you want a new career path, connect with people who can help you along the way. Attend industry events, informational interviews, or casual meet-and-greets to make connections in your new job field. But before you hand out a single business card, remember Zig Ziglar’s golden rule of networking: “If you go out looking for friends, you're going to find they are very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you'll find them everywhere.” In other words, if you start with how you can help someone else (not the other way around), you’ll be well on your way to creating a strong community.
5. Embrace Lifelong Learning
Lifelong learning is generally defined as the ongoing, self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for both personal and professional benefits. As the job market shifts at a faster and faster rate, being adaptable—the core benefit of lifelong learning—has become an essential skill. Over the next year, figure out how to incorporate learning into your life. You might take online class about social media, enroll in a course at your local community college, or even invest in a whole new degree. This kind of continuing education will help you stay relevant and competitive.
6. Be Brave
Change is hard. It can feel scary, overwhelming, or just plain impossible. But, as Matt Damon’s character says in We Bought a Zoo, “You only need 20 seconds of insane courage” for something great to happen. So even if you can only get outside of your comfort zone for 20 seconds at a time, do it! Being brave, taking chances, and putting yourself out there will get you to your goals in half the time.
What are you doing to make 2013 your best year yet? Tell us in the comments!
Annie Favreau works for Inside Jobs, a career exploration site that helps people figure out what they want to become and find the right education to make it happen. Explore your career options at Inside Jobs.