Change can be a scary thing. It’s also a necessary thing if we are to reach our full potential. Not only does change push us to reach new heights, it’s often the thing that makes us feel alive. It moves us out of the doldrums of our lives, shocking the system back to life with the thrill of the unknown. We don’t know what’s around the corner. We might feel a little anxious. We might be a little scared.
But we’re excited, too.
It’s one thing to accept a promotion or step into a change that you feel qualified for. It’s another to step into a situation in which you feel totally in over your head.
"Why would you ever do that!?" some of you might be asking.
Well, there are a few good reasons. Entrepreneurs do it all the time. People who want to chart their own course with new ideas, new businesses, and new ventures are masters of challenging unknown and uncharted territory. Sometimes, though, we’re simply asked to take on roles that we have little or no experience in.
This daunting prospect, if approached without a strategy or preparation, can break a career. That’s why it’s valuable to confront uncharted territory, wherever and whatever it may be, with a foolproof plan.
6 Steps to Successfully Navigating Uncharted Territory in Your Career
1) Make the right connections.
If you have it in mind to start a new venture where you have limited experience or no experience at all, it will be vital for you to surround yourself with the people who do. This is where building connections through networking and outreach is a critical piece of the puzzle. Though you may not have the knowledge you need to get the job done, other people have been there. Leverage their experience and resources.
While it may take time to build these connections, it’s worth it if it prevents you from making avoidable mistakes. Go to meetups for entrepreneurs and professionals in your field. Do outreach. Make calls. Network with people who provide services that you need. Build those relationships so that you can call upon people when you need them.
2) School yourself.
The single most important thing to your ability to succeed in an unfamiliar career is your capacity to learn and adapt. You need a willingness and ability to take in and absorb a lot of new information very quickly. This doesn’t come to everyone easily, especially as we get older. You have to be prepared to take on a lot very quickly, so be prepared!
3) Examine your motivation.
If you’re going to jump into entrepreneurship or a new career totally cold, you have to ask yourself...why? If you’re going in blind, it will come with a lot of strain and stress, far more than a job in which you have experience. While it can be enormously rewarding, it is not for the faint of heart. Are you naturally interested in this field? Do the skills demanded of the career naturally compliment your abilities and talents?
Do you have long-term passions, aspirations, or goals that are in line with this career path? These are all questions worth considering.
4) Understand how you operate.
Compatibility is a big part of the equation when you’re going into the unknown. While with other careers you can rely on experience and skill, here you have to consider your potential. Is this career compatible with your personality, your learning style, your interests, your lifestyle, and your aspirations?
Your career may not immediately offer all of these things or sustain them all of the time, but you need to see that it fits into most of them if you hope for it to “click” as a long-term venture.
5) Prioritize balance and self-care.
Entrepreneurship can be enormously stressful. In fact, jumping into any sort of new career with a limited scope of experience can cause a lot of strain and sleepless nights. The temptation here is to overcompensate by working extra hard and putting in long hours to make up for your lack of experience. Remember though, that it is better to work smarter, not harder.
You have to prioritize the right balance in your life if you hope to operate at your fullest potential.
If you’re worn out and exhausted, you’re not going to be able to retain new information or do your best when you are working. You must prioritize rest and self-care if you want to make it through the tough first stage of a new career and come out on top.
6) Evaluate, assess, and adjust.
Lastly, a new, uncharted career demands constant evaluation and adjustment in order for success to happen. That means that you’re always critical of what went well and what could be improved, uncovering the causes and developing new strategies. The word to remember is proactive. As an entrepreneur or an individual stepping into a new career, it is on you to rise to the challenge and make your own success.
Have you ever jumped into a new career opportunity with little or no experience? Share your experience in the comments.