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Career Pivots: How to Make the Bold Leap onto a New Path

Corinne Whiting

Are you part of the Great Resignation? Do the last few years have you re-evaluating everything? Then read on for some tips on how to initiate your career change and launch a new chapter in your life.

These past years have brought about all kinds of life pivots for so many of us, and for a large percentage that means reassessing entire career paths, as well. This was the case for California-based Eli Wagner, formerly a high-profile entertainment lawyer who now owns and operates her own luxury travel advisor company — Wagner Bespoke Travel — which creates custom, once-in-a-lifetime trips.

Wagner turned a side project booking her own travel into a full-fledged career. And despite any challenges met along the way, she has felt fulfilled in taking the gamble. “I went full-time with my business in September of 2021 … I always knew there was more to life, especially while traveling,” she says.

Eli Wagner: “I always knew there was more to life.”

Joseph Liu, a career-change consultant, says there is no “magic wand” when it comes to switching things up — everyone’s journey is different. But there are some concrete steps, thought exercises, and mindsets to incorporate as you launch your process. The good news? You are in the driver’s seat!

And Liu laid out an excellent roadmap in an article in Forbes that provides a solid framework for a career change:

  • No shortcuts exist. Expect things to take longer than you might think: “Prepare yourself to run a marathon rather than a sprint,” he says.
  • Commit to a steady march. There will be roadblocks on your new path.
  • Take small actions. Even if they aren’t perfect, small steps like taking a class or getting a certification, fuel your journey.
  • Explore without expectation. “Cast the net widely, dispel your preconceived notions, and understand which realities ultimately resonate with you,” says Liu.
  • Embrace your unique journey. “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,” he writes.
  • Craft your new narrative. Learn how to tell your story so others can figure out how to connect the dots from where you were to where you want to be.
  • Don’t rely solely on your existing network. Make the effort to expand your network and connect with people in the field you want to pursue.
  • Define your walkaway point. Commit to it … and then do it when the time comes.
  • Pursue energy instead of passion. “Passion” can be an unreachable standard … try focusing on what your strengths and interests are, and let them be the guide.
  • Trust your instinct. Rely on your intuition because “it often points your career in a direction that truly honors who you are, even when it flies in the face of logic,” says Liu.

Wagner shares that her biggest challenge in pivoting has also proven the biggest reward. “All along the way, I have been trying to learn and meet as many people as possible in the industry from all walks of life,” she says. “Learning how to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds has been challenging, especially with the time difference in Europe.”

She says pivoting to a new role has been both scary and amazing at the same time. “I am learning entirely new skills and while my legal background helps, I love that I am constantly learning and discovering something new,” she says. “You do not have to stay fixed in your same career, even if it feels like you have no other options — you definitely do! Or go make those opportunities for yourself.”

Wagner’s advice mirrors Liu’s: Make new relationships with individuals in whatever industry you are looking to pursue. “Take them out for a drink, coffee, whatever and soak up whatever information they are willing to dole out,” she says.

In the end, there was one thought that motivated Wagner to make a brave change: “If not now, when?”

Written by Corinne Whiting

April 14, 2023

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