When to make a career change? WHY, WHAT AND HOW?

There is so much material on when should you make a career change, what’s a good time, the do’s and don’ts


To start with let’s make the distinction between career change and job change (yes, I have seen people use it interchangeably). Both are very different.  Job change is when you change your company, but you broadly remain in the same function (marketing, sales, finance). People also do different roles staying within the same company, that’s a hybrid switch as most of those roles are done on rotational basis as part of career progression. 


In this blog I am talking about real career change where you make a switch to something completely different from what you have done in the past, where you leave the comforts of what you know to follow your passion and explore unchartered territories. 


As someone who made a career switch 5 years back, I thought it’s a good time to reflect on my journey and share my learnings from it.


I often get asked what made me or drove me to make such a drastic change? I say drastic as I went from being a business leader of a multi-million-dollar business vertical, managing 1000 people across 8 countries and 5 continents to being a solopreneur. Some big and small examples of what it meant for me:

  • Went from having full calendar (including lunch breaks) 5 days a week to absolutely empty calendar with NO meetings for days 
  • Went from constantly speaking with people in person or phone to NO adult talk till my husband came home in the evenings
  • Went from being in an important position where my decisions impacted millions of dollars and people’s careers TO being totally insignificant, it was almost identity crisis!


This didn’t change until first 8-9 months. 


As I look back there are three questions that one needs to ask themselves before making the transition 

  • WHY
  • WHAT
  • HOW


Often, we focus a lot on ‘why’: serve others, make an impact, create value, gain freedom – these lofty ‘whys’ are good and very important and become our driving force.


We also have a fairly good idea of ‘what’ we want to do – work with people, develop a product, create a new service line etc. Though in my experience it’s not as strongly crafted as the ‘why’.


It’s the ‘how’ that is often the weakest link. We don’t spend enough time on detailing out the plan – checks and balances. The myth is that if your ‘why’ is clear you will figure out the ‘how’ but unfortunately it doesn’t work like that.


Great strategy with poor execution doesn’t give desired results!


For me I had to work hard on my ‘what’ and ‘how’ both! 


I worked with an executive coach to get clarity on the ‘what’. She helped me leverage my strengths and experiences to clarify the area that I could become an expert in. 


For my ‘How’ I reached out to my mentors who guided me. I started to leverage my experience of 20 years of working with clients, risk taking, reaching out to people, working with diverse teams in my journey to becoming an executive coach and a professional speaker. 


Again, there is a clear distinction between a coach and mentor – that will be another blog! 


If I had the answer to all three questions at the start of my journey, I am sure I would have cut short my transition period by 6 months! But no regrets.


So, before you make that career switch, remember to spend enough time to find answers to ‘why, what and how’ of career change!

Ritu Mehrish

Author: Ritu Mehrish

Ritu G Mehrish is an internationally acclaimed leadership coach, driven by the passion to humanize leaders. With a career spanning over 25 years, Ritu has a portfolio rich with experiences of coaching and interacting with corporate leaders across the world. She is a Master Facilitator, Leadership Consultant; Executive Coach who designs, facilitates and coaches within customized learning; development programs and workshops to enhance leadership, performance and productivity of individuals, workgroups, and teams. Her conversations with the diverse set of people she addresses and the consequent learnings inspired her to write “Leader’s Block”, a book that discusses her core belief of allowing and encouraging leaders to embrace their human side, and be comfortable with asking for help.

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