No one wants to be stuck in a job they hate, but many professionals do end up taking jobs that don’t let them reach their full potential, at least initially. If there’s something you’re more passionate about than the work you’re doing in your career, find a way to make your passion your work. This may mean taking one of the biggest career risks of all — starting your own business.
“It’s never a good time to start a business,” said Max Chopovsky, who left a job in real estate to found his company, Chicago Creative Space. “You just have to go for it. Figure out what you love, and go do it. I know that is simplistic, idealistic and a bit impulsive, but that’s what I did, and it worked for me. If you go this route, you may very well fail. But in that case, you will never ask yourself, ‘What if?'”
As with any other aspect of your life, your career requires risk management strategies in order to thrive, said Joyce Maroney, director of The Workforce Institute at Kronos Incorporated. Taking career risks means being prepared to embrace change, and you need to make sure you’re equipped with all the relevant facts before you take that leap.
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Before you pursue any career opportunity, Maroney advised asking yourself the following questions, which will help you decide whether you’re prepared for it:
What is my tolerance for risk right now? Taking a risk creates disruption in your life. When considering any potential career opportunity, you need to think about it in the context of the rest of your life, especially if you are undergoing significant changes outside of work.
What are the benefits and costs of making this change? You may not be 100 percent certain of the outcome, but do your best to estimate the positive and negative results — both in your career and your personal life — if you were to take this opportunity.
Can I buffer the adverse impacts of making this change? For every downside you identified, think about how you can buffer the negative impact. For example, if the change means longer hours and a worse commute, look into whether the new employer offers flexible work options.
Can I live with this decision if it doesn’t pan out the way I planned? Not all of your career decisions will turn out exactly as you expected, but risk drives wisdom and growth when you accept this responsibility, Maroney said.