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You work long and hard but if the only thing that keeps you surviving until 5 p.m. is your steady paycheck and your company's 401(k) plan, then you might be ready for a career change. Yes, making the jump from one job industry is a big, life-changing decision but trust us when we say, it's not impossible! In fact, these days it's common to switch fields at least once

Making that switch just takes some thought, hard work, and a whole lot of courage. We got some advice from Anna Giraldo Kerr, CEO of Shades of Success, Inc., a human development organization that helps women become effective team members, mentors, and leaders. Here are a few things to look for before making the switch!

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  • Figure out why you want to switch careers: Giraldo suggests evaluating why you want to change careers before making any moves. Do you really hate your career? Or is the issue with the company's culture, the type of assignments you're being given, or with your mean boss? "The biggest mistake about changing jobs and careers is the myth that the issues in the previous job will be left behind,” says Kerr, “But that’s not always the case."
  • Create a vision board: "Gather evidence about your desire to switch careers," says Kerr who suggests keeping a journal of events that supports your decision. "Then list two or three potential new careers." Do your research and don't be afraid to get creative. Creating an online or even physical vision board is a great way to organize your goals and interests.

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  • Speak to a pro: "Conduct informational interviews with professionals doing the job you want to do," says Kerr. "Ask their opinion about the key skills needed to be successful in their jobs/careers." Ask them to meet you for coffee while you pick their brain. Find a mentor to help guide you through your new career journey and stay on course.
  • Figure out the skills you need: Kerr recommends looking at current skills, interests, and values that you already have versus what is needed for the job you want to transition to. "Take steps to fill that gap through education, training, mentoring, or coaching," she says. "Switching careers is much more than starting to look for openings online. It starts with self-introspection, reflection, awareness, and follow-through."
  • Don't stress too much about finances: "There is a myth about the idea that finding your passion means you won't have financial stability," she adds. "There may be a ramp up period but there is evidence that women who are happy at their jobs perform better which translates into higher productivity, visibility, and salaries."