It’s one of those things in life that simply seems to be expected from us: After school, you choose a path that will lead to a job and then you stay in that field of work you have chosen. Potentially for the rest of your life. A career change seems daunting or close to impossible. That is how it used to be anyway. But often, we are very young when we make this decision and a few years after we may find out that it is not really what we want to do, it is different to what we imagined or it doesn’t bring us joy.
There are several reasons why we may have chosen a field that now doesn’t appeal to us anymore. Firstly, you may have changed as a person, affecting your interests, hobbies and priorities in life. Secondly, you only chose that kind of study/field in the first place because you were a little pressured into it and you didn’t know what else to do. Thirdly, the kind of job you were going for has changed over the years or has turned out to be not what you wanted, making you sad and quite miserable.
Identifying and Admitting Your State of Mind
As hard as it is, you need to be honest with yourself and find out whether you need to make a major career change. Ask yourself:
- Overall, are you mostly happy when you are at work or mostly unhappy? Don’t get me wrong, no job is going to be Disneyland every day, but you should be generally content with what you are doing.
- Do you get up without a problem in the morning or are you questioning whether you want to get out of bed because of where you need to go for work? Are you already miserable the night before you have to go to work again?
- When you are at work, do you feel like you are achieving something? Not just for your company, but also personally? Does your workplace help you grow?
- Are you passionate about what you are doing?
If your answers to these questions are leaning towards a need for a career change, then please don’t feel alarmed. You are not alone and you can get there.
Your Own Timeline
A good friend of mine shared a video on Facebook yesterday that very much spoke to me:
Is is true: Everyone’s timing is different. Just because our friends are in certain stages of their lives or career, that doesn’t mean you need to be there too or it is even the right way for you. You may have picked an interest in a job that did not even exist 10 years ago due to our world’s technical advancements. You may have had personal issues holding you back on your career for a bit. You may be making big money at the moment, but you are unhappy and don’t have time for the things that are important to you. Whatever it is, you matter. And you are the only person who can decide to make a career change. For yourself and your personal wellbeing. Sure, you can also keep going the way you are, but if your daily actions don’t change, your life won’t either.
What Kind of Person Do You Want to Be?
To say this in the words of one of my favourite TV shows of all time, Grey’s Anatomy:
“We’re all gonna die. We don’t get much say on how or when, but we do get to decide how we are gonna live. So do it, decide. Is this the life you want to live? (…) Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More compassionate? Decide. Breathe in…Breathe out…and decide.”
Richard Webber, Season 10, Episode 1
Decide. Is this the way you want to live your life day after day? We spend an enormous part of our lives working, so it may as well be for the right thing and cause, right? Again, only you can make that decision and nobody else is going to make it for you.
The Money Issue
You may think that all sounds great, but you have a mortgage to pay, a family to feed and you can’t just throw in the towel tomorrow without having any money coming in. I understand that completely, I believe everyone does. Which is why in this case you may need to make a slow career change. If you are still young and don’t have a lot of responsibilities, it will be worth just jumping into the deep end. But again, you may not be in the situation to do that. So what can you do?
- Brainstorm what you are passionate about and what kind of work would interest you.
- Work out how much time a week you would have to work towards a new career (on top of your current job).
- Is there a way of volunteering? Taking an online course? Anything that helps you to confirm this is the right path for you and gives you either formal qualifications or some experience is wonderful. Once you have collected some experience, you will be able to apply for jobs in your new chosen field of work.
- Consider putting some money aside at the start of every payment cycle. This could be used for courses and classes or as a backup when you are eventually changing jobs or going down to part-time in your current job.
- Step by step work out a plan that works for you. Again, you have your own timeline and your career change may take a while. But isn’t it worth it to be actively working towards something that will improve your life incredibly instead of being stuck in a routine you hate? I strongly believe so.
In the end, it comes down to whether you will be brave enough to take the step and make a career change. Change is uncomfortable. If it isn’t, it is not change. So things are going to be tough for a while. You may need to pick up an additional job on top of your current job to get experience in a different field, or you may have to live with less money for a while. Career changes are often risky and risk hurts, especially our egos. But try to think how much you may regret one day to not have taken these steps. You owe it to yourself to be in a job you love. Otherwise you may earn money and promotions, but you will lose yourself in the process.
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