Ibarra's Nine Strategies for Reinventing Your Career – Daring to Try Out New Identities

Ibarra's Nine Strategies for Reinventing Your Career - Daring to Try Out New Identities

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Be playful and experiment with many different roles.

Do you ever wonder whether you’re in the right career? Maybe you’re a project manager with an untapped creative side. Or, despite a successful career in finance, you find yourself wondering what it would be like to work in the marketing department.

But you soon put such wonderings to bed. Such a dramatic change seems impossible. And where would you even start?

It’s a common experience. Many of us have interests and skills that we barely use in our working lives. We tend to get set in our ways and to stick to tried and trusted career paths, without questioning whether they really suit us.

However, in her book, “Working Identity” (2004), Herminia Ibarra describes a model and a set of strategies that are less conventional. In this article, you’ll discover how they can help you to find a career that is more satisfying and enriching.

Ibarra’s Working Identities Model

The key to the model is action. Most theories about career change emphasize the importance of groundwork. You analyze your strengths and weaknesses, plan your career goals, and then try to progress steadily towards them.

But Ibarra turns this around: yes, it’s important to think over any big career changes, but we shouldn’t get held up over-analyzing. Otherwise, we may miss the chance to take the steps that could get us the career we want.

Despite this emphasis on moving forward, Ibarra acknowledges that changing our “working identity” is still likely a lengthy process. In fact, most major transitions can take three to five years to get right. And the path that we take is often cyclical, and not a simple, straight line (as shown in Figure 1).

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