Date published 19th March 2021

Changing careers can feel like jumping into the unknown. You’re launching yourself feet first into a new industry – it’s exciting, and perhaps a bit nerve-wracking. You might even feel like you’re starting from scratch, but this is certainly not the case. Think of the soft skills you have amassed throughout your career. Teamwork, communication skills and resilience are highly valued in any industry – you are sure to find at least a few of your current skills come in handy when you make the move.

Author and CEO Liz Ryan highlights that it can feel uncomfortable to feel incompetent. For this reason, many people remain in long-term jobs where they can live day-by-day on autopilot. They rarely learn anything new or push their skillsets. However, when you change your career, you are forced to step outside of your comfort zone. Neale Donald Walsch’s oft-cited line certainly rings true here: “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Step outside your comfort zone

The psychology behind Walsch’s phrase is worth unpacking. Coined in 1991 by Judith Barwick, the ‘comfort zone’ was defined as “the behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.” Therefore, when you decide to change your career, leaving the comfort zone, you do two things. Firstly, you increase your set of behaviours and skills. Secondly, you create a situation in which you can improve your performance level.

Forbes also suggests that when you stay in one job for a long time, “you fall behind what is happening in the wider world” beyond your industry. It is only when you step outside it, that you see the countless other worlds that exist. Yet many people find that when this happens, it’s not just their perspective on work that changes. Their self-confidence also improves. Liz Ryan puts this down to having to re-establish yourself and your values in an entirely new space, forcing you to remember your worth.

Share a fresh perspective

Career movers also enter new industries with a fresh perspective. You might find that your background is what sets you apart from other people. Someone who works in construction might enter the world of business with excellent problem-solving skills. Or perhaps they love seeing a project through from start to finish. Forbes summarises this well, saying “to give yourself a decent shot at effectively standing out when breaking into a new industry, you have to believe you’re uniquely qualified precisely because of your unique background, not in spite of your unique background, so you can move forward with confidence.”

Broaden your network

Finally, when you change your career path, you broaden your network immensely. Whether you upskill on a new course or attend an industry event, you are sure to meet individuals who will inspire and support you. What’s more, research shows that career hopping is the new normal. Helen Barrett suggests that we should plan for at least five careers, with millennials expected to have upwards of 12 jobs in their lifetimes. This means that you’re not alone in making the change. There are countless others whose first-hand experience can guide you along the way.

If you are considering changing your career, studying for a degree at one of Solent University Centres can be a great place to start. Located in some of the UK’s most vibrant cities (London, Birmingham and Manchester) you can develop new skills, gain world-class qualifications and grow your professional network. So, ready to take the leap?

To find out more about Solent University Centres, please visit our course page.