The future is uncertain at the best of times, but especially during a pandemic. It makes sense, then, to pursue a range of possible options, rather than sticking to one single vision, notes Herminia Ibarra, London Business School professor and author of "Act like a leader, think like a leader".
Some of those ideas may be more realistic than others, but that can open you up to new opportunities and keep you resilient to further change ahead.
"Even in happier times, career change is never a perfectly linear process. It's a necessarily messy journey of exploration," she says.
Career change, by its nature, is "liminal" — or existing between a past that is gone and a future that's uncertain. That can be an unsettling state, but it's also an important chance to process emotions and change.
"Downtime is crucial not only for replenishing the brain's stores of attention and motivation, but also for sustaining the cognitive processes that allow us to fully develop,” says Ibarra.
Indeed, neurological studies suggest making time for "inner business" can be more beneficial than completing a list of self-improvement activities.
Developing new skills, knowledge and contacts are common and important routes to career reinvention. Yet, rather than focusing on one specific project, try several to compare the pros and cons of each.
They may not all be directly applicable to your desired new career path, but they will help you find where your true strengths lie.
"The point is to do new and different work with new and different people, because that process represents an opportunity to learn about yourself, your preferences and dislikes, and the kinds of contexts and people that bring out the best in you," says Ibarra.
A pandemic which requires social distancing is not a great moment for building your network. But with more people than ever communicating online, it could be a good chance to reconnect with old contacts too.
Studies suggest distant connections are often better placed to offer you new perspectives and honest advice than your nearest and dearest. However, they may also be less motivated to help you. Ibarra recommends drawing on "dormant ties" — colleagues you were once close to but haven't been in contact with for three or so years.
A career change can feel like an inward-looking process. However, it's important to discuss it out with trusted parties and to clarify your ideas.
"Just the simple act of telling a story about what you want to do, or why you want a change, can clarify your thinking and propel you forward, by committing you publicly to making a change," Ibarra notes.
"In the end, when it comes to reinventing your career in this time of crisis, remember this important point: The time to get going is now — but don't go it alone."