It’s been said that with dedication and commitment, an average person can master almost any new skill in about seven years. This means that it takes about seven years for most of us to study an advanced discipline, play an instrument, learn a language, or earn a degree that we can then translate into a successful career.
Climbing a seven-year mountain may seem like a formidable challenge…at the beginning. But this neurological phenomenon also provides us with a lifetime of opportunity. If our brains are designed to allow a complete reinvention of ourselves every seven years, then we’re never trapped by any one course of action. Even if we’ve invested years of effort in a specific profession or skill set, we’re free to leave that path and start over at any given time. We can sign a new seven-year lease on any hat we choose—a chef’s hat, an artist’s hat, a pilot’s helmet—the sky is literally the limit.
A period of unemployment—even a prolonged, discouraging job search—doesn’t have to signal the end of our professional lives. And if you’re open to reinvention but stumped for options, consider the list below. All of these potential careers are in high demand right now, and if you’re willing to invest a little time and discipline, all of them are available to you—no matter who you are or what you’ve been doing up to this point.
- Healthcare. You can choose to head back to college, major in pre-med, apply to med school and become a doctor. But if that seems a bit daunting, consider a two-to-four year degree program and a set of licensing exams. That’s all you’ll need to become a physician’s assistant, an RN, a licensed phlebotomist, a dental hygienist, or an LPN. Meanwhile, you may only need a six-month to one-year training course to become a medical admin or a billing expert.
- Hospitality. If you’ve ever considered a career in hotel or restaurant management, this is an excellent time to start pursuing that goal. Basic training programs in this field can require six months to two years, and if you start at the entry level with a large employer, you learn on the job and grow within the company.
- IT. If you’re willing to earn a set of certifications and apply your coding experience in a practical way by joining open source communities, you don’t need special permission to enter the IT field. Right now, employers are especially interested in programmers who can build mobile apps, provide network management support, and help companies mobile optimize their websites and customer service portal.
- Running your own business. A strong gig-focused economy has arisen in the wake of the great recession, and laid-off (or bored, or burned out, or just naturally independent) workers everywhere are successfully launching their own enterprises. If you’re especially entrepreneurial, you can draw up a business plan and apply for a loan. If you’d like to keep your overhead costs down, consider freelancing or consulting in your area of expertise.
Whatever you decide to do, don’t be held back by fear, or a by a misguided sense of commitment to your current path. If the time has come for a change, take action. The sooner you choose a new course, the sooner you’ll have the tools you need to attract employers and clients.