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Published on February 19, 2019

How to Change Careers When It Seems Too Late

How to Change Careers When It Seems Too Late

The wake-up call often comes when you least expect it. Maybe you’re enjoying a relaxing get-together with your old college buddies when someone turns to you and says, “Wow, I never thought you’d become an investment banker. I always thought you were going to ride around the country by motorcycle and write about the experience.” Before you know it, you find yourself remembering your old dreams — and comparing them to where you are now.

Life rarely goes according to plan. Marriage, kids, and grandkids often come earlier than imagined — or later. Maybe you pursued one career path because you were considered the breadwinner, but now someone else in the family is the breadwinner. Or conversely, you landed a job, thinking you’d stay for six months, and now you’ve been there for sixteen years.

The good news: The average person will have five careers in her or his lifetime. It’s perfectly normal to change careers, even when it seems too late!

Steering your way through a career change is part calculation, part chance, and part leap-of-faith. As you set out, take the steps to help you navigate your career change:

Step 1: Be Mentally Prepared

Points 1-4 below can help you master the psychological aspects of a career change at any age.

1. Now or never is a fallacy.

For most professionals, there is no cut-off age for striking out in a new direction. People do it at all stages of their careers.

If you’ve ever dreamed of leaving a large company to hang your own shingle, you are not alone. Similarly, thousands of entrepreneurs and people working for one-man shops decide each year that they’d like to work for larger organizations.

You’ll find hordes of Baby Boomers looking for a redo alongside mobs of GenXers and Millennials — especially as the Boomers now remain in the workforce longer than their predecessors.

2. Your career is not a straight line from A to B. It has zigzags and curves.

You don’t have to have your career trajectory completely decided from the start. In fact, that’s an unrealistic expectation no matter how methodical you are.

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People change. Industries merge, morph, and in some cases, disappear. Careers rarely follow the straight and narrow. Many careers can be compared to journeys — there are the adventurous patches, the boring patches, the downright scary patches, and the hills and valleys, too. The trick is to try to have a little fun while you’re charting out your various careers.

Don’t panic if you find you need to change your career. It may take some work, but you’re up for it.

3. Career changers are among good company.

Consider these well-known trailblazers whose careers took a radical turn:

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, studied computer science and electrical engineering at Princeton, went on to establish himself as a Wall Street prodigy, then quit to launch Amazon.com.

Sara Blakely, billionaire businesswoman, was a fax machine salesperson before creating her signature slimwear line, Spanx.

Jonah Peretti, co-founder of the media sites Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, initially taught computer science to middle schoolers for years.

4. Be ready to take on the naysayers.

Expect plenty of advice — usually of the discouraging kind — from friends and family when they learn that you’re exploring a career change. Those you know best are often the most vocal in trying to thwart your plans.

Be prepared to field a flurry of pessimistic conjecture and doomsday scenarios. Know, though, that when your loved ones question your judgment, they’re not necessarily doubting your talent, but trying to look out for your wellbeing. They may also be voicing their own inner turmoil over whether it’s time to plan their own change of careers.

Keep in mind that pessimists avoid the unknown, while optimists invite new challenges. Above all, believe in yourself and follow your instincts. Don’t let fear of change paralyze you from seeking out your new career path.

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Project an aura of enthusiasm, energy, and passion. You’ll find it’s contagious.

Step 2: Be Proactive

Points 5 through 9 can help you master the practical aspects of changing careers at any age.

5. Take baby steps.

Ease into your new direction. Start building the skills you’ll need to make the switch.

Find out what skills you will need, and do whatever it takes to add them to your skills arsenal. Make the time to invest in additional training.

Start by devoting a half day each week to your new pursuit until you’re ready to confidently make a move.

Clearly define where you want to go and what you’ll need to do to get there. Take an inventory of your strengths. Read trade magazines, and study up on industry trends.

6. Volunteer.

Charitable organizations are often looking for volunteers to help them with their outreach, social media, and engagement. You can show up without the requisite skills and learn as you go in a fun, convivial, low-pressure environment.

Once you’ve mastered the needed skills, be sure to have the president of the organization or someone on the Executive Board write a glowing recommendation for you. (Don’t be afraid to ask them, too, if they happen to know anyone in the field of your dreams. Work those contacts!)

7. Take online courses.

Today, LinkedIn and many other providers offer online courses in everything from accounting software to time management to mastering Excel. For extra credit, see if you can find classes that award online badges for completing each course.

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Don’t be shy about adding these certificates to your online profile. Keep your profile fresh by adding more and more skills to it.

8. Take a temp job.

Depending on your field, it may be possible to freelance at a company where you learn on the job.

Remember that you can’t just show up at a potential employer’s claiming you have the skills. Taking a temporary job that allows you to polish your skills is proof that you’re serious about your career change.

9. Tell everyone you know — and have them tell everyone they know — about your aspirations.

Build a family tree of contacts. Explore beyond the main branches of your work acquaintances, industry groups, and social contacts. Join your alumni organization. Tell the women at your bridge club. Tell everyone.

Ask friends and friends-of-friends to meet you for coffee to explain what it is they do and tell you which skills you’ll need to succeed in your chosen field.

If you have friends or associates with ties to the organizations where you want to work, ask your contacts to make an introduction. The majority of today’s jobs are found through one’s own networks. When jobs open up, companies invite informal recommendations from internal and external channels.

Step 3: Take It Online

This last step can help you master the online aspects of a career change at any age.

10. Develop an online presence in the field of your dreams.

Reconfiguring your online presence will be a critical step in your career change. Fine-tune your digital identity to reflect your new direction, tailoring your profile to the role and industry you’re after. Include keywords that are relevant to the industry so that recruiters can find you.

Craft a clever personal statement that states your interests, your values, and your dreams. Once you’ve zeroed in on your message, also pick and choose which outlets make the most sense for it. Will your personal statement resonate on LinkedIn? Or is it highly visual — making it a better fit for Instagram?

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Polish your sites until they gleam, then get active so others take notice. Add insightful content to your social media pages that goes deeper than the information on your resume — such as commentary on something taking place in your newly chosen field.

Final Thoughts

Americans spend 1,800 hours or more each year working. That’s nearly one-third of your life, and it goes without saying that how you spend your working hours has a great bearing on your life’s happiness barometer.

Set out to intentionally pursue career satisfaction, looking for opportunities to fine-tune your working life so that you find fulfillment.

If playing the piano is your personal bliss, could you meld your love of music with your clinical psychology background and pursue using music to promote healing? Perhaps there’s a foundation that would fund you in a multiyear study.

Or, if you’re a movie buff for whom every encounter has the makings of a screenplay, why not sign up for an evening class and see if your years of writing advertising copy could morph into a new career in the film industry?

Success with a career change will occur when you mentally prepare, take a proactive approach, and mine your personal and online networks. The pay-off will be in a life well-lived — yours!

Resources About Career Change

Featured photo credit: Jason Strull via unsplash.com

More by this author

Vicky Oliver

Author of 6 best-selling books on job-hunting and job interview questions, business etiquette, frugalista style, advertising, and office politics.

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Last Updated on November 20, 2019

How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

Everyone sets goals. Whether they are daily goals like completing a project, personal aspirations like traveling the world, or even workplace targets, setting a goal isn’t enough to get you over the line unfortunately. This is why only eight percent of people achieve their goals.[1]

So how do the high achievers do it?

By setting measurable goals, keep track of them and progress towards these goals.

To help you out, I’ve put together a simple guide on measuring goals. I’ll show you a SMART framework you can use to create measurable goals, and how you can track its progress.

To begin, let me introduce you to the SMART acronym.

What Is a Measurable SMART Goal?

SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. They help set clear intentions, this way, you can continue staying on course.

When you’re writing a SMART Goal, you need to work through each of the terms in the acronym to ensure it’s realistic and achievable.

It’ll help you set specific and challenging goals that eliminate and vagueness and guesswork. It’ll also have a clear deadline so you know when you need to complete it by.

Here’s what SMART stand for:

Specific

Your goals need to be specific. Without specificity, your goal will feel much harder to complete and stick to.

They should also have a specific outcome. Without the outcome, it will be hard to focus and stay on task with your goals.

I can’t stress this enough. In fact, two researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, found that when people set specific yet challenging goals, it led to increased performance 90 percent of the time.[2]

Here’s an example of a specific goal:

Increase sales by 10% in 90 days. 

Measurable

You need to be able to measure these goals.

Examining a key metric and quantifying your goals will help track your progress. It will also identify the mark at which you’ve completed your task.

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Measurable can mean many different things, but generally speaking, you want to be able to objectively measure success with a goal.

Whether it’s via analytical data, performance measures, or direct revenue, ensure your goal is quantifiable.

Achievable

Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal, so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

Relevant

Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

Timely

This is one of my favorite parts of SMART goals….setting the deadline.

The timeframe will create a sense of urgency. It functions as a healthy tension that will springboard you to action.

Examples of Measurable Goals

Now that we know what a SMART goal is, it’s time to help you make your own SMART goal.

Let’s start with the first step: specificity.

Specific

A specific goal should identify:

  • What’s the project or task at hand?
  • Who’s responsible for the task? If you’re breaking the task down, who is responsible for each section?
  • What steps do you need to do to reach your goal?

Here’s a bad example:I want to have a better job.

This example is poor because it’s not specific enough. Sure, it’s specific to your work, but it doesn’t explain whether you want a promotion, a raise, a career change, etc.

What about your current job do you want to improve? Do you want to change companies? Or are you striving for more work-life balance? What does “better” really mean?

Let’s transform this into a good example.

I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.

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If you’re not too sure what the specific outcome should be, you can use mindmaps to brainstorm all the possible options. Then choose a few or one from the mindmap.

With the example above, to become a better growth marketer, I have to explore different learning options like online courses, blogs, books, or in-person courses before I made a decision.

Measurable

Goals need to be measurable in a way where you can present tangible, concrete evidence. You should be able to identify what you experience when reaching that goal.

Ideally, you should go for a metric or quantity as quantifying goals makes it easier to track.

Here’s a bad example:

I will get a promotion at work for improving quality

Here’s a good example:

I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.

If you’re having difficulty measuring your goals, you can use a goal tracking app. They’re a great way to measure your progress, especially if it’s time-based.

In addition, I love to use the following strategy to keep myself accountable and ensure I’m hitting goals:

Reminder emails.

I schedule emails to myself asking for measurable data on my goals, and even CC others to hold me accountable.

For example, if you work with a team, CC them on your email to keep yourself honest and on-track.

Here are five methods you can use to measure your progress towards the goal:

  1. Keep a record – Have you recorded all your actions?
  2. Assess your numbers/evidence – Are you breaking your commitments?
  3. Create a checklist – Can you simplify your tasks?
  4. Stay on course – Are you moving forward with your plan smoothly?
  5. Rate your progress – Can you do better?

Achievable

When it comes to being able to achieve your goals, you should stick to Pareto’s principle. If you’re not too sure what it is, it’s the 80/20 rule.

Don’t just attack and go for everything at once! Pick things that give you the most results. Then, work on the next objective or goal once you’ve completed your first ones.

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Here’s a bad example:

To get more work-life balance, I will examine all factors of my work and how to trim down the time I spend on them.

Here’s a good example:

This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others. 

Relevant

It’s always important to examine your goal to ensure it’s relevant and realistic to what you’re doing.

This is where the bigger picture comes in.

Here’s a bad example:

I want to be promoted to CMO because I need more responsibility.

In this case, it’ll be unlikely for you to receive a promotion if the purpose and reason behind your goals are not strong.

Here’s a good example:

I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.

The why will help you grind out in moments when you just want to throw in the towel, and also provide more purpose for your goals.

Timely

And…finally we’ve hit the deadline.

Having a due date helps your team set micro goals and milestones towards the goal.

That way, you can plan workload throughout your days, weeks, and months to ensure that your team won’t be racing against the clock.

Let’s start with a bad example:

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I’m going to land a new promotion this summer.

Now, let’s turn this into a great example:

Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

So that’s how you create a measurable goal.

Here’s a summary of the example above in the order of its acronyms.

Overall Goal: I want to transition into a new role with a reputable company.

  • S: I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.
  • M: I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.
  • A: This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others.
  • R: I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.
  • T: Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

But before we finish off, I want to leave you with a note:

If you want to ensure you reach your goals, make sure you’re accountable. Ensure that you will stick by the goal and deliver the results that you want. Because sometimes, the goal might not just be for you. It could be goals for your clients, customers, and even loved ones.

For example:

Here, Housecall Pro promises customers that they grow up to 30% in one year.

By placing that statement on their landing page, they’re keeping themselves and their goals accountable to their customers.

For personal goals, tell your friends and family.

For professional goals, you can tell your peers, colleagues, and even your clients (once you’re ready).

Bottom Line

So to wrap things up, if you want to measure a goal, be SMART about it.

Start with a specific outcome in mind; make sure it’s measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely to your existing schedule.

While 92 percent of people fail to reach their goals, you can be the exception.

Reach your goals by setting targets and objectives together.

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

Reference

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