Career Pivoting - A Simpler Approach

I was recently approached by someone living on the other side of the world, asking for some advice on career pivot strategies - how to go about changing from one career to another, potentially very different one. They seemed to want to move out of consulting, into a career where they could be more directly involved in running a business. I must admit, I sat and thought hard about this at first, as the person asking the question gave me the impression that whatever I told them, they may actually use what I suggested. I found myself trying to form an answer that, in the end, would be far too complicated. I stopped over-thinking. "Keep it simple", I told myself. What would you do if you were the one asking the question? Well, here is the [rewritten] answer I gave...

"By the nature of your question, I am going to assume that you are currently in a consulting role and, therefore, my understanding of what you are asking is to move from the "advisory" type of activity found in traditional consulting organisations, into the "implementation" portion of a consulting firm -- am I correct? If that is not correct, then I am going to assume that you are looking to move out of consulting altogether, and into a business environment where more direct and pragmatic general business skills and experience are required. Either way, at a high level the principles are the same - differences, however, may exist at the 'details' level of how you transition your career. Fundamentally, the process is quite simple and whatever you read about career pivoting should say roughly the same thing. There are broadly three positions: the here and now, where you want to be, and the bridging of the gap between these two places.

Your 'Here & Now' - The Current State

  1. Understand what you are good at now;

  2. Understand what you are not so good at now;

  3. Ask yourself if what you are not so good at now, can be addressed (fixed or improved) in the short term (within a year); and

  4. Will addressing these things be relevant to what you want to do?

Take some time writing this all down. Walk away and then come back to it again - more than once. Make sure it is accurate and real.

Your 'Where I Want To Be' - The Desired State

  1. Know your desired state very well. It is critically important that you thoroughly understand the world/life you are aiming at. Understand that your desired state will change over time - take this into account when considering this first item. Do research on what the future holds for the environments in which you want to operate; as well as what it takes to compete on knowledge, experience and outcomes in the areas you have identified;

  2. Once you have this knowledge, understand the "gap" between what is required in your desired-state world, and what you possess now, in your current-state world. Identify the detailed actions and outcomes you will need to take to close this gap;

  3. You will need a three-stage strategy: a short-term strategy, medium-term strategy (which follows on from your short-term one), and the end-game: your ultimate goal. The short-term strategy is to get yourself into a your chosen role or environment - even if it is 'at the bottom'. The medium-term strategy aims at moving up the ladder in that field. The ultimate aim is to excel in that field;

  4. Categorise the detailed actions you identified in desired-state item 2 according to short-term, medium-term and the long-term. Set specific and clear objectives for each action. This is your plan.

Again, write these down, walk away and come back to it a few hours or days later to make sure it still rings true. Take your time over this. This is your Nirvana for which you are making preparations!

Your 'Call to Action' - Getting Things Done Now, if you are happy with your plan, all you now need to do is: to do it. Remember, no plan is perfect. Keep checking your plan and revise your current and desired states to make sure that your plan is still relevant to those positions. Constant monitoring also helps to encourage you as you see yourself moving closer to your ultimate goal." Let me know how it goes! If you need more help with this, get in touch. #careerchange #career #change #planning #CareerPivoting

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