Its a process weve all been advised to follow when looking to change careers: First, determine what you really want to do. Next, use that knowledge to identify jobs or fields in which your passions can be coupled with your skills and experience. Seek advice from the people who know you best and from professionals in tune with the market. Then simply implement the resulting action steps. So what could be wrong with a thoughtful plan like this? Plenty, says Herminia Ibarra, Professor of Organizational Behavior.
In an in-depth study of 39 career changers over a three-year period, Ibarra discovered that the plan and implement model simply doesnt work, mainly because it cautions us against making a move before we know exactly where we are going.
She suggests that waiting for a bolt of lighting to come down and illuminate the one, perfect job is misguided. We have many possible selves, says Ibarra, which means we could have many possible career matches. She suggests a test and learn approach, which allows for small steps; action instead of reflection. Ibarra illustrates this method through success stories of real career changers.
Harvard Business Review, December 2002