Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

– Helen Keller

Some of the wisest decisions you can make are counterintuitive. In the process of living, it can be easy to do what it seems has always been done—to follow the path well-traveled. But if you stop for a moment and listen to the whispers of your heart’s desire, you’ll often find that it is the unconventional path that makes the most sense for you.

Now, to be clear, such unconventional moves are not for everyone. After you listen to your heart, you must also use a little logic by following some simple but important rules. Consider these five risky career moves that have been known to pay off. Do any of them resonate with you? If any of them do, prayerfully proceed with courage and a sound plan—and enjoy the journey!

1. Saying goodbye to your current career and hello to a new one.
If you lack passion for your work or don’t get to use your strengths, your industry is in decline or opportunities for growth are limited, forging into new career territory could be a wise decision. But avoid choosing a new career because it’s a “hot new career path” when you don’t have the strengths or passion for it.

2. Saying no to a promotion.
This unconventional choice can pay off when you are already overwhelmed, or more money or a bigger title won’t get you the visibility or skills to achieve your true goals. Saying yes and then doing a poor job can be more detrimental to your career than saying no. Don’t allow the “disease to please” to turn you into the person who gets everything dropped on her desk with little appreciation or financial reward.

3. Becoming your own boss.
This is a dream that is both possible and rewarding, but doing it well takes more work than you might think. Plan your transition, ease into full-time entrepreneurship, and prepare financially and personally for the challenges of business ownership. Taking that leap of faith too soon based on excitement for an idea or frustration with a job can be a mistake.

4. Going back to school.
This move makes sense when it will directly impact your ability to reach your career goals, it is required in order to move to the next level, and you can afford it (the financial investment will reap a gain beyond the cost of the education). A common mistake is the belief that a degree is the golden ticket to landing a great new job. Do your homework to find out what’s really needed for your ideal job. It might be experience over education—or a different path of education than the one you’re considering. If it’s a degree, research the school you choose thoroughly to determine their track record for graduate placement in your career of choice.

5. Taking some time off.
A sabbatical. Time to raise your children. A dream lifestyle that allows you to have time for what really matters most. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? Well, it can be, but it’s also a risky move to step out of the workforce or even reduce your schedule to part-time. It can pay off, though, when it meets your family’s life goals, you prepare financially, and you find a way to keep some skills current so that you are positioned to reenter the workforce when you are ready. Stay plugged in to your professional connections though. Be strategic about your time off and you will have options when you are ready to go back to work.

My Challenge To You:

Be willing to take risks when you sense in your spirit it is the right thing for you to do.

Power Question:

Do any of these “risky” career moves make sense for you? If so, which ones? Have you taken one of these moves before? If so, what lessons did you learn that you will carry forward in your future?

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