Mastering the Art of the Mid-Career Shift

There comes a point in life when you begin to understand that what you do to create the lifestyle you live is just as important as the outcome you work so hard to achieve.

There comes a time in life when you crave meaning, substance, and the ability to truly make a difference, rather than just doing what you have to do to get by.

There comes a time when it becomes clear that you have a calling much deeper, much bigger, and much more substantive than you've ever before allowed yourself to explore.

And there comes a time when you realize, unless something changes, unless you do something to break free of the routinized existence your life has now become, you'll continue to be stuck in a life that reflects only a shell of what it could be, what it should be and most likely, what it was destined to be, if only you believed in yourself enough to try.

I know the thought of change can be daunting. Fear can be paralyzing. Responsibility has a way of keeping you tied to things way past their expiration date because you falsely believe that it's impossible to answer that calling pulling you in a completely different direction without potentially sacrificing the lifestyle you've worked so hard to build.

But you don't have to live a life stuck in a cycle of minimized dreams.

You can make the shift into the life you've imagined.

You've put off your passion long enough.

It's time to love what you do and do what you love.

Use these 5 Steps to PIVOT into your Purpose.

Step 1: Plan

There's nothing wrong with dreaming. In fact, having a vision for where you want to go is the first, essential step to making the changes that will be necessary to get you there. As my mentor often says, you must start with the end in mind. But while your vision may be your North Star--always there, always shining brightly -- it will never become a reality until you determine exactly how to make it so. This requires planning. It requires a process of reverse engineering that not only identifies the outcome you seek, but each intervening step it will take to get from where you are now to where you want to go. It's in this process of reverse engineering that you will begin to realize what's truly possible. That your dream need not stay a dream. So if you're serious about making a pivot in your professional life, then take the time to sit down and determine exactly what you need to do to get where you want to go. Vision is essential. But when you're really ready to make moves, know that where the rubber meets the road is through the process of devising a plan that moves you from vision to action.

Step 2: Invest in Your Future Self

When you're ready to move from planning to implementation, then you'll understand the wisdom behind investing in your future success. Changing direction in your profession will require a commitment of time and money which will allow you to either master a new skill or gain traction in an area in which you are a virtual unknown. But that doesn't mean there aren't shortcuts, an inside track per say, that will allow you to arrive at your desired destination faster. The best strategy to shorten the necessary time lapse between vision and successful outcomes is to find or hire a mentor who can shorten your learning curve in the new space you're entering and introduce you to the insiders who need to know your name as you grow your network in this new arena. There's no need to reinvent the wheel. Find someone who's already excelled in the area in which you'd like to pursue and be willing to make the investments it will take to get you to success sooner than you ever imagined possible.

Step 3: Value-Proposition Identification

The step that many miss in this process of making a successful career shift is taking the time to get crystal clear about the value they bring to the new arena in which they're seeking to enter. So for example, how can your specific skills, experiences, and perspectives be applied to your new professional focus? The idea should be not to leave all you've done before behind and start over from scratch. Instead, figure out what part of what you've done is applicable to where you want to go and how you can exploit that feature to make you stand out from the crowd in your new professional space. In other words, get clear about what unique value you bring that will set you apart from the crowd and solidify your worth right from the start.

Step 4: Own Your Greatness

Perhaps the most challenging part of gaining legitimacy in a new field is gaining the trust and respect of others. No doubt, you have to bring the goods. But in addition to that, always remember, that if you don't believe in you, you shouldn't be surprised if others don't either. You must learn to confidently own your greatness. For some, this will be easier than it is for others. But by truly understanding your value, and affirming to yourself daily your unique intrinsic worth, the confidence that you may lack today, can be groomed and grown for tomorrow. Remember, until you truly get to the point where you own your greatness, you won't have the foundation necessary to truly be the best you have the potential of becoming.

Step 5: Transition

Finally, once you've plotted the path, invested the time and money it takes to properly prepare yourself for excellence, recognized your unique value and how it applies to your new arena and then truly own -- not arrogantly, but merely factually -- just how distinctly wonderful you are, you're now ready to make that move. So take the first step and embrace transition knowing that you've done the necessary preparatory work to make real your dream in a way that's destined for success.

Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever is the Founder of the Exceptional Leadership Institute for Women. For more tips and information on creating a career and life you love, log on to www.avisjonesdeweever.com.