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Whether you’re unhappy with your current career path or are comfortable with where you’re at but know it’s not the same place you want to be in five years, the thought of changing careers during your 30s, 40s or even 50s can provide you with a rush of excitement. Unfortunately, it also drives fear into the hearts of many people who even consider this possibility.

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Although changing careers later in life does take work, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. And because the payoff can mean doing something every day that’s a perfect fit with your values, lifestyle and goals, it’s definitely worth putting in the time necessary to get on a different career track.

Anyone who says that you will never second-guess your decision isn’t being completely honest with you. However, as long as you have a plan to follow, even during those trying times, you’ll know that you’re ultimately making the right decision. To help make this transition as painless as possible, here are the key parts of the path you should follow:

Identify Exactly What You Want

Since changing careers is a big transition, it’s not something you should rush. On the contrary, it’s definitely worth taking your time to ensure that whatever has been on your mind is truly what you want. By writing down exactly what you think you want to do and then letting that information sit for awhile, you’ll be able to come back and see if it still sounds as appealing as it did during your initial burst of enthusiasm.

Determine What Credentials and Experience You Need

After figuring out exactly where you want to take yourself professionally, the next step is to figure out what you need on your resume to get there. You can use several different sources to get this information. For very basic details, the Occupational Outlook Handbook is a good place to start.

From there, you can use sites like LinkedIn to find people who are already in the industry you want to enter and talk to them about exactly what you need to get your own start. In addition to sending an online message or email, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call them. As long as you’re honest and genuine, you’ll find that most people are more than happy to help.

Test It Out

Before you start going after any credentials and experience you need to get started with your new career, it’s a very good idea to actually see what day-to-day life is like in the new career you’re thinking about. If you already have firsthand experience with the career you’re planning on moving to, you can skip to the next step. But if all your plans are based on information you’ve read and heard from others, you need to see for yourself what it’s really like in the trenches.

This step is crucial for two reasons. First, if you try out your new career of choice and find that you truly love it, that confidence is going to give you even more motivation to get exactly where you want. Second, if you give this new career option a shot but realize it’s not actually what you were expecting, you won’t waste lots of valuable energy and time going down a path that’s simply not the right fit for you.

Take Action

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Once you’ve decided what you want to do, figured out what’s needed to get there, and then tested your new career out to confirm that it really is what you want to be doing, it’s time to dive in so you can start checking items off your to-do list.

Keep in mind that even if things like education seem like major obstacles, there is almost always a solution. For example, if you need a degree but can’t drop everything to attend a traditional university setting, options like a great online security management degree from Norwich provide a flexible route that will still open all the doors you need,

Tell Other People

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Don’t wait until you feel like you’re completely “ready” to start telling people about what you’re doing. Platforms like blogs are a great way to show off your passion and make others aware of where you want to go with your career. Even if you need to keep your own name out of the discussion until you’re ready to leave your current job, you can still share what you’re learning and doing by writing under a pseudonym.

Now that you know exactly how you can change careers without feeling like you’re jumping off a cliff, all that’s left for you to do is start with Step One from the above list!

About the Author

James Smith is an educator and career counseler that assist students pursue online degree program, career changes and the pursuit of higher education. He can also assist students with getting college grants and aid with tuition.

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