Changing career is never easy. It doesn’t matter whether you experience Sunday night blues on a regular basis – that anxiety you feel on Sunday when thinking about the impending work week – or how many telltale signs you need a career makeover you can tick off.
The majority of people simply settle for a life that is “just fine”. The harshers would say they “settle for crumbs”. Thing is, we are all afraid of what we don’t know. We dread failure; we are scared of losing what we have achieved so far and so painstakingly; we fear others’ disappointment whenever we are unable to meet their expectations.
And you are no different. That’s why you give up on our highest expectations. Comfort zone is not that bad after all: unfulfilling, but familiar. Until you realise you have only one life, and you won’t spend it pecking crumbs. You have seen other people step out of their comfort zone and be finally happy. Why not you?
Truth N. 1: You are alone when making your decisions
Your choice, your responsibility
No matter how much external pressure, advice, or counselling you may receive, your decisions are only yours. As it is bearing their consequences. Whether you stick to what life has given you or you go for a different path, it’s your decision. You won’t be able to blame anyone else for it. So be careful whom you listen to.
Your choice, your loneliness
Chances are, people won’t understand your need to divert. Not even your closest ones. You will feel awfully alone, and you may also wonder whether you are indeed making a mistake. Worse, it will be like this for a while after you jump.
Just cling on to your decision. Remember: no one will ever believe in you unless you are the first one to do so. But what if I am the only one to believe? Give people time and carry on. Your endurance will pay off, and your efforts will be appreciated. People’s support will then come naturally.
Truth N. 2: It’s never too late, but the more you wait, the more difficult it becomes
I made a career switch in my late twenties. Despite seniors’ comments about my “young age”, that proved very challenging already.
The truth is, you are somewhat bonded to a life path since your very first day on earth. Your birthplace, your family and friends, the inputs you get as a child; your schooling and your after-school activities; your secondary education and your masters, internships, and student jobs: all that shapes up for your “professional self”. And it becomes extremely challenging to escape once your coming of age is over.
Before opting for a freelance career (a decision that required some training anyway), I wanted to explore the corporate world. Having a solid economic and financial background, I thought businesses were just waiting for me. No one would ever investigate my academic records or my teenage work experiences, wouldn’t they?
Nothing but fake: you need to be specialised. For some vacancies, I had to disclose the exact name of my college exams to the HR. And what about your volunteering activities as a high school student? When asked about my chances to switch from a sector where I had been working for years, to another where my experience was limited, a recruiter laughed me off. I was able to land a new position eventually, but at great cost: I had to start anew.
Unless you are already well established – I would say you hold at least an executive role – any time you change sector, it’s ground zero. You need to start from the bottom up, or from a lower position if anything. If you, like me, aren’t quick enough to spot your lifetime area of interest, you will need to start over and over again. You may then end up in your 30s being still an apprentice – while your peers are already managers.
That’s why you need to try out as many jobs, roles, and sectors as possible when you are younger. Let’s say during your college years. No pressure here, but it will save you time later on. You will get an idea of what is out there you may like – and what definitely you won’t.
But what if college years are well behind me? It’s never too late. If you realise there is something wrong with your current job, just don’t wait too much before taking action. Time is unforgiving.
Truth N. 3: Everyone who tells you it’s easy-peasy, is lying
Stay away from gurus’ “Turn-your-life-upside-down-in-the-blink-of-a-eye!!!” statements. They are not realistic and often conceal a scam. And even though there is no fraud purpose behind someone’s supportive words, bear in mind that reinventing your life cannot happen overnight.
Whether you want to launch your own business, or look for a different job, there will be times you feel deeply frustrated, or disheartened as the whole project seems going nowhere. You will face failures, rejections, and any kind of disappointment. You will wonder whether you made the right decision every other day.
That’s normal. And it’s OK to feel this way. How was it? “If it weren’t hard, everyone would do it.”
So don’t trust recommendations that promise a quick fix. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Take some time off when you need it. And just keep going.
Truth N. 4: Nothing gets thrown away
Your past will keep haunting you.
This has nothing to do with your previous experience.
That’s not what you worked so hard for.
Why did you spend so much time and energy to master something you will no longer use? Why are you throwing it all away?
Let’s debunk this misconception once and for all: nothing is lost. Any experience you gained, any lesson you learnt, any activity you carried out, helped you to built up your overall knowledge. You will make use of it one way or another. Have you ever heard of transferable skills? And if your dream job requires you to upskill or reskill, better yet: you can further extend your expertise and become an even more badass version of yourself.
Truth N. 5: Asking for help is not a shame
It took me a while to realise, but there are things you cannot sort out on your own. That’s why humans tend to gather together since ever, I guess. But that’s just the first step. If you really want to sort that tricky something out, you must learn to ask for help. Not an easy one, I hear you. But you need to make an effort. Force yourself to pick up the phone, write that email, and ask those two or three (hundred) questions you are not able to answer yourself.
There is nothing wrong with letting others know you need them. It shows you are flawed as any other human being, and you are not afraid to say it. Moreover, people are happy to help. Think about it: how do you feel when someone reaches out to you for advice? And when you finally help them solve their issue? That’s how we build connections.
I would like to conclude on a guru-style note: don’t despair, things will get better!!! Jokes aside, they really will. You just need to believe in what you are doing and keep going. No wonder it will require huge amounts of patience, persistence, and passion; no wonder it will leave you numb at the end of a long day of work. But it will be worth the effort. Life is and always will be a hard hustle anyway. Why don’t you sweat over something that makes you happy(ier)?