Do you ever feel like you’re in a rut in terms of moving forward to achieve your career goals? It can be paralyzing to think of all the steps that you need to take to identify that next career goal and to make it happen. Help is here: I just read a great book that turns much of the theory on how to start a successful business or career goal on its ear: Action Trumps Everything. The book, written by Len Schlesinger, former President of Babson College, and two co-authors, comes out of that school’s expertise on entrepreneurship. It offers three simple steps that can be applied widely to setting and achieving goals in many aspects of life, including career transition:

Step 1. Act on something you care about: get started quickly

Step 2. Evaluate and learn

Step 3. Repeat taking action based on what you’ve learned

This is a basic version of the model; the book offers lots of other advice and concrete examples including one sage tidbit that I really like: “Fail early and cheaply.” In other words, before you get too invested in thinking about a new career, learn from your mistake(s) and keep moving.

While I advocate that people do soul searching before they embark on a career shift — the process may be short or long — the goal is to get you in touch with something that you a) can do and b) care about doing. Once you’ve identified a goal, take a small/smart action!

Example: I’m a Business Analyst looking for a change and I realize that one thing I’ve always enjoyed is writing. An action I could take is to explore my connections in Linked In for people who write, or go down to my local town newspaper to see who might be willing to talk with me about their work. I could ask about the mission to see if it connects with something I care about (Step 1). I can take another action to set up a networking meeting with a Linked In contact having a communications role (Step 2). In the meeting, I might learn that I need to take a class. So, I’ve learned (Step 2), and I contact schools that have marketing communications courses (Step 3).

More evidence that action leads to success is found in recent literature on career development. Researchers in the UK studied eight women who’d made dramatic career changes in which they are happy. After interviewing the women, the researchers came up with the steps that may look familiar:

Take action (based on interest/passion)

Experience positive emotions (or negative ones)

If the change feels good, solidify the decision.

If you’d like to learn more about these ideas and how to apply them to setting and achieving your career goals, contact Katherine at WorkPaths Consulting.