A reinvention is a lot like rock-climbing. It takes strength, endurance and a lot of prep work to make it to your goal in one piece. When you’re just starting out a reinvention can seem daunting, and you may be asking yourself, “How will I ever be able to conquer such a huge challenge?” But take a page from the playbook of rock climbers: when mapping out a plan to reach the top, they don’t try to figure out every move in advance.
Experienced climbers know that the most important question to answer is not “How do I get to the summit?” but “How do I get to the next handhold?” They ask that question, over and over again, until they reach the top.
The same is true for your reinvention: Answering the “how” for your next move, step-by-step, is the best way to reach your ultimate goal. So as you start your reinvention, here are the questions you’ll need to ask yourself:
Which vision do I want to pursue?
Picking your career reinvention target is like deciding which peak to climb–there are many choices, each of which can deliver an exciting adventure. Don’t think there’s only one career option that will fulfill you; in fact, it’s better to identify several possibilities.
What about the money?
Let’s be frank: it’s tough to focus on career reinvention when you’re worried about paying the bills. Before you begin, plan in detail how you’ll cover your expenses while you make the climb. Don’t forget to include costs associated with exploring your new career; you may need to take a class, invest in new business cards, or join an industry organization.
How do I get moving?
There’s always the temptation to take action–any action–just to get moving. Don’t jump onto the mountain right away by sending resumés and trying to land interviews. You must prepare yourself for the climb; mapping out the lay of the land provides essential data for your ascent.
How will I combat my fears?
Ask 100 people who’ve reinvented themselves, and they’ll all admit they’ve experienced periods–sometimes very long periods!–of terror. Similar to hanging on a cliff and looking down, it’s not the feeling that’s the problem; it’s what you do in response that matters. Will fear make you recommit to doing whatever it takes to reach the summit, or will it push you into a free-fall? If you prepare yourself in advance, you’ll be ready when fear creeps up behind you.
How do I deal with other people’s comments about my reinvention?
The idea of career reinvention is scary for us all. Well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) folks will make it their business to list the hazards of undertaking such a difficult endeavor. And since they’re usually echoing your innermost fears, their comments will seem incredibly threatening. But as a general rule these people have never actually reinvented their own careers, so they have no experience ascending the mountain you plan to scale. Rock climbers expect people to freak out when they mention their plans. They don’t internalize the fears of ‘armchair experts’; instead, they talk about their plans with other climbers. Take a page from their playbook and talk about your career reinvention plans only with others who have climbed the same peak.
Remember that you don’t have to know every step you’ll take in advance. All you need to do is focus on the next handhold in front of you, and one day you’ll find yourself at the summit of your reinvention!