Mental Models for Career Changes - Deepstash

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Career changes are daunting

Career changes are daunting

Career changes are some of the biggest shifts we will make. They often involve some retraining and will impact your personal life.

When you manage the situation through the lens of a few mental models, you can clarify which direction to go and find a path to get there.

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Velocity: Speed and direction

Change will never be right unless it aligns with what you want to get out of life.

Do you know where you want to go? There's no point just moving at speed without knowing where you want to go. When you articulate your desired direction, you give yourself a clear purpose in your career.

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Inversion: Working backwards

Once you know where you want to be, work backwards to where you are now. Carefully consider all the steps in-between in reverse order.

Once you identify your requirements, you can use that list to evaluate opportunities.

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Take stock of the skills you already have

Knowing what skills you already have will reveal what you can repurpose.

We often fail to realize how versatile our existing experience is. Being good at presenting the monthly status update doesn't mean that you're good at presenting monthly status updates. It means you can articulate yourself well, analyze information for a diverse audience, and build networks to get the correct information. Consider what else those skills can be used for.

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Reaching your dream job

To find out what your dream job will be like, try to get an accurate picture of what the day-to-day is like. No job is 100% fulfilling all of the time.

Talk to people doing the job you want. Talk to people in the organization. Talk to the ones that enjoy it and to the ones who quit.

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Career change: Elements of planning

Once you know what direction you want, planning for change is vital.

Two models are useful to help us identify what we need to plan.

  • Global and local maxima. It refers to the high values in a mathematical function and can be applied in switching careers. Sometimes you have to go down a hill to climb up a new one. To move from a local maximum to a higher peak, you have to go through a valley. This means that sometimes steps down can also be steps forward.
  • Activation energy. It requires you to think about what you need between now and your desired result. Then consider the effort needed for sustained change.

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Probabilistic thinking

Once you have narrowed down your options for a new career,, consider these questions: Which one would you bet on for being the better choice one year later? How much are you willing to bet on it?

Doing this exercise will not guarantee that any choice will be the right one. It helps you quantify your thinking based on the knowledge you do have available.

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