If you want to change careers and go from old job to new job, you may be obsessing over the question, “But HOW will I ever make it happen?” There is an urgency, and sometimes anxiety, behind this question, even if you don’t know what you want to do yet.

The truth is, you can’t plan for something hypothetical. So until you know what you want to do, trying to figure out how you’ll do it is an exercise in futility.

But trying telling that to your overactive brain! It wants an answer, and it will prod you for one while you’re at the gym, on a date, in a meeting, or even asleep. So let me share with you a general plan for the easiest way to change careers. It’s not a step-by-step plan that’s specific to your new career and needs (you’ll make that once you know what you want to do), but it is outline for what a sane, successful career change looks like.

The Unrealistic Way

Let’s start with how it’s not going to go: It’s not going to be Sunday night with you in your regular job as a photographer’s assistant, and then Monday morning you wake up and are a solo safari trekker who shoots for National Geographic. (Is there an 80’s Freaky Friday-style movie about this? There should be.) You can make that leap, but not overnight.

So what are you doing from Sunday night to Monday morning, proverbially? How are you bridging that gap?

The Easiest Way to Change Careers

With a Crossfade.

Your Crossfade is a transition period where your current and future careers overlap. Your current career fades out, and your new career fades in.

With a Crossfade, there’s no big scary gap between jobs. You don’t quit your job as soon as you know what your new thing is going to be. For awhile, you live in both. You use your Crossfade to build a safety net, get good at your new thing, a plan for the switch.

So what might a Crossfade look like for our aspiring National Geographic photographer? As a photographer’s assistant, she might ask to take on small solo projects at her existing job. On the weekends, she could take day trips to practice taking photos like she would for National Geographic. She could try to get photos published on nationalgeographic.com or similar online outlets. It would be really cool if she could be an assistant on a real Nat Geo shoot. Any of those things would help build her portfolio, build beneficial relationships, and prepare her for the career she wants.

Real Talk

Let’s be real: the Crossfade can be a gangly, awkward teenage phase in your career. You might feel like you’re leading a double life as you have one foot in two different careers. That’s ok; this is temporary phase and it might be all elbows and knees poking out for a while until you can fully fade into your new role. Your new career is worth it!

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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