Most traditional career change advice tells you to start by looking at what you’re doing now, and what you’ve done in the past.
What about your current job do you like or hate? What did you study in school? What kinds of skills do you have that you could take somewhere else?
To which I say: wrong, wrong, and wrong!
Starting with the present and the past is about the worst thing you could do, and about the surest way to make sure your new career is the same as the old one.
In this post, we’ll see just how far away you could set your targets and still achieve them – by taking an accountant and making him into a film actor.
Sound crazy? Sure is.
And 100% achievable.
“Owning” Your Career
But first, we’ll talk about why we even want to start in the far-off future.
We’ve talked before about how you can’t just see yourself as an employee. Regardless of how low you might be on the totem pole, or how locked in you might feel your job to be, in order to achieve success, you have to treat your career as your business.
So if you were to take that “business” and start a new venture, where would you set your sights?
Well, no brand new company in the world would base their future on what they’re currently earning.
And why not?
Because it’s making zero money when it starts! Earning a single dollar in a year would blow away expectations!
So each and every intelligent new business owner sets revenue targets from the outset – as far away as possible – then establishes a plan to meet those targets.
Why would you do any different with your career?
Set Your Career Targets Way Out
Targets should be based on what you enjoy. That’s it!
If you want to change your career, it’s because you’re not happy with the status quo. You might be making good money, and you might have even earned the respect of a whole community.
But if being practical doesn’t make you happy, then focus on being happy, and figure out how to make it practical.
If we start out with what we’re doing, we’re going to end up with variations of what we already have. If we really want to adopt a life of change, we have to think much, much bigger than the present.
Maybe your dream job sounds crazy. Who cares?
I believe in my heart of hearts that we can morph our careers into anything we want them to be. Some changes might be easy, others might take a lot of time and energy, but we can get there.
Map It Out – Part I
Okay, enough talk: let’s take a look at how we might set crazy targets, and establish a plan to achieve them.
And, as promised, we’ll go with something pretty far-off: accountant to film actor.
All it takes is thinking not in terms of “career change,” but in terms of continuous transition.
Starting with being an accountant for a sanitation product company, our Hypothetical Hero could map out a series of six different jumps:
- Accountant for a marketing company (don’t tell me that’s a huge jump!).
- Assistant to the account manager for a marketing company.
- Account manager for a marketing company.
- Sales associate for a television/commercial production company.
- Actor in commercials.
- Actor in film.
Those were six steps to get from accountant to film actor.
But sure, you might say, those are just random steps.
Seem ridiculous to you? Seem a little bit too fantasy-land??
Map It Out – Part II
Those steps aren’t random at all. Nor are they far-fetched.
Moving to Step 1 is a joke. Same job, different industry. Next!
Moving to Step 2 is repackaging some accounting skills into basic management competencies. If you’re willing to develop a network outside of your comfort zone, this becomes an easy sell.
Step 3 is more of a promotion than a move – just do a great job.
Step 4 is building on your move into Step 2. Develop your networks and be willing to learn. Since your company deals with production companies all the time, develop real business relationships, and watch your opportunities explode.
Keep building those relationships, keep asking all the right people, and watch someone give you a small part in a commercial (Step 5). No, it’s not Shakespeare, but it’s experience on a brand new resume you’re building. Add to that some volunteer theater, and you might just land…
A move into Step 6.
If You Want It, You Can Get It
You might read all of that and think it’s a stretch of logic. That it’s a plan based on a dream, and little else.
That’s fine. Feel free to think that.
And also feel free to live within the confines of your own limitations.
The above steps might not work for you exactly – but the principles? They’ll work for anyone.
Set ridiculous targets. Set ridiculous expectations. Will you meet them?
I hope so. But if you start out with the end in mind, there is one thing I can absolutely promise you.
You will achieve miles more than if you start out with the present.
What’s the biggest career goal you’ve set for yourself? Where are you going next? Tell us in the comments!