Over your job? Here's how to pull off a career pivot

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No matter how much you love your job, you’re bound to wake up some mornings wishing you suddenly came down with the flu so you wouldn’t have to go in. And while needing some extra TLC on a Monday morning is totally normal, dreading your job every day of the week is something worth looking into — and maybe even fixing entirely by figuring out how to change careers completely.

According to LinkedIn research, half of professionals who leave their job end up in different industries and roles entirely. And out of any generation, millennials are twice as likely to switch careers. After all, the average American spends a third of their life at work, so you want those hours to count. Here’s how to make the transition as seamless as possible.

Think about what interests you

Chances are, you’ve given this some deep thought, but you should really tap in to what you’re "in it" for, according to Blair Decembrele, LinkedIn career expert. What makes you tick? What kind of impact do you want to have on the world? What are your values? What kind of field will allow you to harness that?

"Do the work upfront, and once you feel confident in your career priorities, make a plan to get there," says Decembrele. "It definitely doesn't have to be something you've done before, but should more important be something you want to do now."

Start by creating a spreadsheet (maybe Excel to help you brush up on that skill set you listed on your resume?). In one column, draft a list of dream jobs. Next to each job, write down a list of companies that are hiring, using resources like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Indeed, and Monster. From there, include a line about the qualifications and degrees required for each job. In yellow (or a color that calms you down and promotes confidence, like blue), highlight the jobs for which you are most qualified to start sooner rather than later. You don’t have to decide right away which career you’ll be pursuing — the goal is to sit with the information that there are careers outside of your current one that are ready to hire talents like you.

Once you close the tab and leave your computer, take note of which jobs your mind keeps wandering back to. Don’t stress over the decision too much, since your brain now has all the information it needs to lead you toward a verdict. According to research from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, the unconscious mind makes a decision long before our conscious mind acknowledges it. The researchers confirmed in a statement it’s not that humans lack “free will,” it’s that you are already gravitating towards a certain option before you realize it consciously.

"Do the work upfront, and once you feel confident in your career priorities, make a plan to get there," says Decembrele. "It definitely doesn't have to be something you've done before, but should more important be something you want to do now."

Think about what makes you proud

Imagine a conversation with an acquaintance or professional in your network beginning with "So, what do you do?" Close your eyes and think about a response you would find joy in repeating over, and over, and over. New LinkedIn research found that 64 percent of millennials define a "good job" as one they’re proud to talk about, trumping other factors like salary and flexibility.

We live so much of our lives out on the internet that we often make decisions based on how they’ll translate on screen or be perceived by our peers. And that’s not such a bad thing when it comes to helping you move to a new field: When you’re proud of the work you do, you’ll feel a greater sense of personal fulfillment and desire to go above and beyond in your responsibilities.

Tap your professional community

Given that you’ll likely have limited to no experience in the new field, your ability to transition largely hinges on the number of folks who can vouch for you. "Seek out people in your network who are in roles that you find interesting or in industries that you'd like to break into. Get in touch and connect to learn more about how they were successful," says Decembrele.

You’re not alone if networking or asking for help sounds daunting. In fact, a little nervousness can indicate you’re keen on making a good impression. "My advice is feel the fear, and do it anyway," says Decembrele. "The more you reach out, the more you learn, the more your network grows, and the closer you get to connecting to your next opportunity. And it could make all the difference when it comes to getting hired [since] job applicants who are referred by an employee are nine times more likely to get hired."

Start saving

A study from the journal Work, Employment and Security found that self-employed professionals who work the longest hours and have the least amount of financial security are often the happiest. If that's the route you'd like to take, speak to a professional about whether you’re in a position to take a pay cut. Think about other reasons why switching fields might cost you more at the beginning: in many cases, you’ll be starting from square one and thus earning an entry-level salary, you might need extra schooling and training, and you might need to relocate in order to pursue your desired field. If you’re in no rush to make the leap, stay in your current role and devise a plan to start saving now so you can support yourself as you transition.

According to Ethan Bloch, CEO of personal finance tool Digit, "you can treat yourself to a latte and avocado toast while still maintaining strong financial health." To mitigate any damage, put a system in place to set money aside for a rainy day (that’s separate from a 401(k) or IRA), and make those payments automated so you can focus on developing your skills for that new career, he recommends. Use an app like Digit to automate savings transfers, or simply use the tools your bank provides to automate transfers from your checking account into your savings account every week or month (a great time to do it is payday after a direct deposit so you’re guaranteed to have enough funds in your account).

Hustle on the side

Another way to make progress in your move is to dip a toe in. "Try pursuing a side hustle or passion project in a new field that you’re interested in," says Decembrele. "This can be a great way to uncover new opportunities and potentially transition into a career shift, whether it’s moonlighting in an art gallery or building websites on the weekends."

Switching fields doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. While there might be a learning curve once you begin, that renewed sense of fulfillment might make you wonder why you didn’t make the switch sooner.