One of the easiest things you can do is plan out what you’re going to do “when you’re ready.” You’ll start freelancing, you think, when you’ve acquired enough skills at your day job. You’ll learn a new skill when you’ve sufficiently conquered all of the prerequisite skills that build up to it. You’ll apply for a new job once you’ve accumulated enough relevant experience at this one.
The habit of waiting until you’re “ready” is one of the most nefarious ways to procrastinate, because you don’t realize you’re putting things off – after all, you’re planning! But planning to start is easy. Actually starting is tough. I know this from my own experience. Nobody feels completely ready to leave job security behind and start their own company – I sure didn’t! When I left Hulu to go all-in with Career Contessa, I did not feel ready to become a full-fledged entrepreneur.
But I made the leap anyway. Something that I’ve realized over the course of my own adventure in entrepreneurship is that you never feel ready. You never feel like you know enough or are prepared enough to take the next step, but now – today! – is exactly the time you should be taking it. Getting started on something challenging or new isn’t meant to be comfortable. Getting started pushes you outside your comfort zone – and nobody ever feels ready for that.
People often tell me that they want to make a big career move – whether that’s changing industries, going for a promotion, or looking for a new job – but that they’re waiting until they’re “ready.” The best thing you can do to accelerate your career is to find a way – any way – to stop planning and start doing.
The hardest part of getting started is taking the first step – committing, in some way, to actively leveling up your career. After you take the first step, you aren’t wasting your effort on making the decision as to whether you’re ready to start, and you can focus on making forward progress toward your goal. With that in mind, here are a few ways to take that first step toward a career change, and to supercharge your career before you feel ready.
1. Take on a side project
One of the most effective ways to build new, marketable skills is to start making something. Do you want to bulk up your writing skills? Start a blog. Do you want to learn HTML and CSS? Start building a website. Not only will the process of making something get you started and sharpen your skills, it will help you build up a portfolio of work that you can then leverage to get the job you want.
2. Step up for assignments outside your comfort zone
Sometimes, all it takes to get started is to take on more challenging projects at work. Offer to lead a project or help out with a different team. For instance, if your goal is to transition from marketing to user experience, volunteer to help with a user research project. Maybe next time, you can lead it! The more experience you can get in a new field, the better, so don’t be afraid to speak up and take on projects you might not normally be assigned to.
3. Enroll in a course
Tech, business, and design courses are a great way to work on new projects, sharpen your skills, and build up a portfolio, especially if you need a little guidance. Choose a topic or skill that will make you better at your current job, or prepared you for a new one. If you don’t have the time or resources to take an in-person course, try one online. Committing to an hour a day of your online learning after work can pay off in dividends later.
These are all great ways to stop waiting until you feel “ready” and get started today! When it comes to taking action and deciding to go for it, there’s no time like the present.