The data around job transitions is pretty bonkers.
• On average, Americans change jobs every 4.6 years.
• According to LinkedIn, millions of people changed their industry in 2014.
Which brings up an uncomfortable question: If you’re going to switch careers, how do you go about it?
Roman Krznaric, who taught courses on job transitions at the School of Life in London and authored the lovely book “How to Find Fulfilling Work,” recently gave us a tip.
In short, a job transition doesn’t have to be — and probably shouldn’t be — a leap of faith.
“You don’t have to radically step into the office on Monday morning and resign,” he tells Business Insider.
Instead, you can take on “branching projects” to get a taste. If you’re thinking about moving into web design, you could take a course online. If you’d like to become a yoga teacher, get your certification on the weekend. If you want to become a writer, make freelancing a side hustle.
“In other words, you hold onto your job as a corporate tax accountant and then you start doing your experiments on the side,” he says.
The key word here is experiment: Like a chemist trying to figure out the properties of a compound, you test whether a job fits you — instead of endlessly thinking about whether it would be a good choice.
Krznaric says that it’s a much more reasonable way to make the change than spending months researching a new field or taking psychometric tests that purport to tell you what the “dream job” for your personality type might be.
By sampling the would-be job, you make the whole process way easier on yourself — and defray the fear that could prevent you from making a choice that could help your life.
In Krznaric’s mind, that’s one of the main reasons people don’t make the changes they need to make.
“We hate losing twice as much as we like winning,” he says, referencing the work of the the Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who found that people want the possibly of winning $US20 on a coin flip if they’re going to risk losing $US10.
That’s the brilliance of the branching project: you get to defuse the fear that that keeps people from making transitions toward more fulfilling work, in a very pragmatic fashion.
“Unless we’ve done that kind of hands-on, empirical research, we are probably going to make some mistakes,” Krznaric says.
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