Change Your Career in Just 6 Steps

change your career

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Looking to make a change in your career, but are unsure where to start?

Or maybe you’re thisclose to putting a new career plan into action, but can’t seem to pull the trigger?

Here’s a simple, bare-necessities can’t-mess-it-up checklist to show your career change who’s boss, and if anyone tells you that you *have* to have anything else, they’re wrong:

  • –Put on your Nancy Drew hat and view yourself with curiosity. View the whole thing as an experiment, with you playing detective. Do what you can to distance yourself from the outcome and look for clues everywhere. What are your enjoying? What feels really hard? What proves to be a challenge? What comes easily to you? Start a new notebook or document, write down your findings and review ‘em on a daily, weekly, or bimonthly basis. Keep tweaking as you go to build on your wins and attract more of what you’re seeking. Resources: Your Win Book; I Quit My Day Job: The Updates; 10 Ways to Discover Work That Feels Like Play


  • –Live in the questions – but not forever. You must must must allow yourself to spend some time dreaming, researching, and planning. So as not to spend infinite time on the dreaming, researching and planning, set a deadline for yourself and write it on your calendar – a month or two should be more than enough before it’s time to step on the gas and start really taking action. Resources: Living in the QuestionsMaybe It’s Time for a Plan, Some Research, and Living in the Questions


  • –Build momentum by doing something every day.  Make it a habit of getting your work done in small chunks each day. Keep your eyes open for the times you find you’re “wasting” time – whether it’s watching a TV show you don’t particularly like, doing chores that could be delegated (or not done alone), or spending hours on Facebook or Candy Crush.

    I had a client decide that her business time was post-dishwashing after dinner every week night. At first, she had to force herself to go to her studio and shut the door, leaving her husband alone to watch TV. She’d set a timer for 45 minutes and would have full permission to leave once that timer dinged. Some days were torture and others would feel so fun it’d lead to another 45 minutes on the timer. Eventually she said to me that going to her studio after washing the dishes was automatic – she found herself there one night without remembering how she got there! That’s the best.

    If you’re using the excuse that you have brain drain at the end of the day, put on your Nancy Drew hat and just see if you get an energy boost after doing 15 or 20 minutes of your career change work.  I think of it like exercise – the worst part is always getting on your sneakers and getting out the door, but once you’re 20 minutes into your run or class, you’re happy to be there! Resources:  Pomodoro Technique (to start thinking in 25 min chunks of time instead of waiting for free hour(s) to fall from the sky); Lift (an easy way to get into the habit of doing something every day-ish and tracking your progress); Productive Flourishing’s Free Planners (made for creatives!); Anti-Social (a great way to block distracting sites); Just 15 Minutes/Day to Becoming a Full-Time Entrepreneur


  • –Start telling trusted family members, friends, and colleagues about what you’re transitioning into. Not only does this make things more real for you, but it allows your favorite peeps to volunteer their knowledge and connections to help thing s accelerate even faster for your new career. Thinking that nobody in your circle could possibly know anyone who works at your dream company / is doing what you wanna do / has potential clients for you? Think again! I’ve coached over 250 people personally on their career transitions, and I’ve never (not once!) had a client need to talk to someone about what they’re (thinking of) doing and haven’t been able to find someone that they know, even if it’s a connection or two removed.  Resources: The Dreaded Question; An Open Video to Those Who Don’t Like That We’re Quitting Our Jobs (and Following Our Bliss); How to Talk to Your Spouse About Your Scary/Exciting Career Change (in 3 Easy Steps!)


  • –Make your career change a priority. If you view this as a “hobby” or “a personal indulgence” or something that isn’t of the utmost importance – for your health, your sanity, your well-being, and the way that you interact and care for yourself and your loved ones – then that mindset has gotta stop! My favorite exercise to do here is have you write a Welcome letter from the CEO of your company (you!) to the first employee of your company (also you!), speaking to the values + expectations + responsibilities that you have. Even if you’re not looking to be self-employed, you need to view this time as one where you’re the boss. What are you going to work on? When are you showing up? What will it give you – emotionally, physically, financially – when you make it happen? Resources: My 10 Favorite Resources to Help You Discover What You Wanna Be When You Grow Up. Pick one and work through it! Also, my upcoming CreativeLive class, Create Your Dream Career.

  • –Feel the career fear – and do it anyway.
    At any given moment, you might feel like you’re a lost cause, or that you can’t focus or follow through, that you’re a Jane of All Trades and a master of none, that you’ve already made too many career changes, that you’re not actually special enough to make it work. Those Vampire Voices (I call ‘em that ’cause they suck the good stuff out of us!) are ones that I hear most often from my clients and ones that I hear myself – you’re not alone! But let’s stop using ‘em as excuses and instead use ‘em as fuel to feed our career change “investigation” Resources: Feel the Career Fear – and Do It Anyways (it’s a free webinar I did and lots of resources to go with it!)

Seriously – that’s it! 

The most important thing I can remind you of is to be nice to yourself throughout this process.

The second, third and fourth most important things?: don’t rush it, do what you can to release the pressure, and for the love of all that’s holy, do something (anything!) that you want to explore as a career. That’s way more valuable than spending weeks or months or years (over)thinking about it.

The best way to take action? RSVP for my CreativeLive class, Create Your Dream Career! You’ll get my illustrated, rhyming(!) career change workbook as a free gift straightaways, and this September we’ll bust through what’s holding you back from your grown-up, passionate career via dreaming, exploring and playing. It’s gonna be the funnest!

Michelle Ward FOLLOW >

Michelle Ward helps creative women get out of their soul-sucking jobs & into work that feels like play!