In generations past, the notion of retiring from a singular company after 45 years of employment was somewhat commonplace, and the idea of entering and exiting the workforce in the same field was wildly normal. Without globalization, the varied effects of global connectivity, and a focus on localized jobs, professionals of decades past entered trades post-matriculation, and more often than not, remained in those trades for the duration of their professional trajectories. To young professionals navigating the realm of work currently, this notion seems antiquated, limiting, and maybe even impossible. After all, just because working professionals were staying put in one professional field for decades doesn’t signify that they were personally fulfilled, professionally captivated, and truly invigorated by their careers.
More than ever, as individuals become increasingly open to the idea of professional exploration, and the general public begins to abolish the traditional view that longevity somehow equates to aptitude, young professionals are entering the workforce without a long-term commitment to a dedicated field. Instead, they are approaching workforce development as an ebbing and flowing evolution, relying on their intuition to guide them forward, and recognizing the importance of manifesting their own professional happiness, which may sometimes include several career pivots.
These pivots, or changes in direction, however, come with their own set of concerns. Namely, switching gears after dedicating large amounts of time to a particular niche field may feel like giving up on that field, or losing the time spent within the field seemingly without any garnered value. Similarly, pivoting into a new field may make forward-thinking innovators question their entry into the field, especially without direct experience within their new field of professional interest. However, by shifting the narrative, the idea of pivoting career trajectories can be seen as a brazen and calculated move toward long-term career success, and a mere sidestep on the long path toward the proverbial top of the career mountain.
Let “What If?” Motivate You
At times, wandering eternally about the potential outcome of a chance is more daunting than the worst possible scenario related to taking the chance. For the generations of professionals who never dared to take a chance on parlaying their career trajectories to include an exciting shift, enthralling challenge, or other brush of greatness, the unanswered question of “What if?” must surely weigh heavily on the imagination, ripe with regret over opportunities never ceased.
For the new generation plagued by FOMO, this literal fear of missing out can actually be used as a great professional motivator, inciting professionals to ponder the potential successes of their wildest aspirations, dreams, and interests. For many, embarking on the journey to answering the “What if?” question is manifested by taking an open position in a different role within the same company, or going back to school to garner a Master’s Degree in an accompanying field, or even completely disrupting the status quo, and plunging into a completely new project. No matter the circumstances, this existential exploration can be a powerful motivator for unfulfilled professionals to explore the possibilities of pivoting careers.
Listen To Your Heart
In professional matters and personal matters alike, intuition can guide us to make the decisions that are most conducive to our own intrinsic needs. The trick is to be able to effectively listen to the inner guiding voice, to admit that it is okay to not have always listened to it, and to voluntarily take the road that innately feels right. For many professionals, entering the workforce within an initial position is a matter of necessity or just a natural progression based on collegiate decisions related to Majors and degrees. For most young professionals, who did not wholeheartedly believe in their calling to be a Veterinarian since the age of 8, their foray into the professional realm merely kickstarts the exploration of jobs.
While the entry into a particular field may have merely been the result of floundering, or the absence of a distinctly intuitive direction, most professionals will eventually begin to feel the intuitive voice of professional aspiration upon gaining initial experience within a career, assignment, or activity. The key, then, is to recognize the self-feedback and utilize this intuitive voice to manifest change as needed.
Fuel Your Passion
While monetary gain, financial stability, and other pertinent factors dictate professional trajectories or the feasibility of entering into various fields, passion and interest must be present to fuel an individual’s interest, commitment, and motivation on a long-term basis. Thus, for those considering a swift career pivot, lack of passion within a current niche field may be a vital cause of the intended shift.
For many professionals, a limited source of creativity, or creative autonomy, may fuel a desire to seek this seemingly missing piece of the professional puzzle. However, this doesn’t necessarily have to equate to a complete career mutiny to satisfy one missing piece in an otherwise overall satisfactory experience. For example, corporate attorneys who love the law, but are feeling stifled without a little bit of creativity in their vicinity, can pivot into General Counsel for creative brands, effectively becoming adjacent to the sought-after creativity needed to be fulfilled, via a small pivot, rather than a complete overhaul. In this case, the seemingly small pivot could be executed without skipping a beat, certainly not signaling the anxiety of “starting over” within a completely new career path.
Embrace Fresh Beginnings
When pivoting from one industry to another, even seasoned professionals may feel as though they are literally starting over in terms of mastery of industry-specific insights. While this may be somewhat true, the important fact to consider lies in one’s interpretation of “starting over”. While the bespoke insights relevant only to the new industry may be new, the mastery of operations, time management, and other important professional facets will already be in place for individuals who have previously held jobs.
Thus, instead of considering a limited knowledge base of industry-specific insights as a deficit when manifesting a career pivot, it can be enlightening to embrace the opportunity to marry previously perfected skills with a new set of niche insights, quirks, and learning curves. The desire to gain this knowledge in a practical manner, and implement the knowledge through industry experience, after all, is the driving force behind pivoting into a new industry. Embracing it will only render the experience a lot more meaningful, positive, and emboldened.
Carry Over The Soft Skills
Pivoting careers into new industries can be a positive way to maintain beloved aspects of previous roles, only selectively teleported into a new industry. While being a Director of Operations for a healthcare giant may not have been a dream career path, being a Director of Operations for a small beauty startup just may be the pivoted path to overall long-term professional satisfaction. Though different industries certainly have varying operational systems, functions, and general flow, the soft skills mastered in previous industries can certainly be applied universally. For this reason, previous experiences are cumulative, important, and are carried over effectively to succeed within new endeavors.
With a base set of foundations for success, such as effective team management, budgeting, or trend forecasting, these essential skills can be tweaked to maximize success in different industries, but remain integral skills that are cumulative in nature, and are worthwhile in the eyes of potential employers.
Consider Going Back To Go Forward
For many serial pivoters, the concept of consistently moving forward, acquiring new skills, and experiencing exciting new ventures on a vertical plane is integral to maintaining professional happiness. However, sometimes, that can be manifested by returning to an old industry, employer, or company in a new direction, position, or field. While an otherwise beloved company may not have been creatively fulfilling in the past, the same company’s expansion into a creative venture may suddenly offer the coveted missing piece. By remaining open to exploring new roles within a company that already felt mostly fulfilling, pivoters can fulfill their professional desires in meaningful settings.
Within today’s seemingly chaotic professional atmosphere, it may become easy to look back with nostalgia at professional generations of the past, whose consistency and dedication to a singular field seems to be comforting. In times of turbulence, or professional uncertainty, such solace can certainly make a case for never taking a chance, trying something new, or pivoting into an exciting new role. However, while the average professional of generations past may have remained steadily in one place for a longer period of time, they may have only done so out of fear, limited opportunity, or locality of certain industries. Furthermore, they may now relish in watching the current generation proactively, autonomously, and brazenly pivot their career trajectories to truly have it all.