The Scary Reality of Changing Your Career

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My dad is old-fashioned. He fully believes that you get your degree, go to work, and work in your chosen career field until you retire.

I love my father to death, but I am on the other end of the continuum. I believe if you aren’t happy with what you are doing, you should find your passion. I haven’t always been this way though. For a long time, I have followed my dad’s mindset, unhappily staying in a career that I’m not passionate about.

When I was in high school, it was my dream to become a Physical Therapist. I had spent many months in a rehab clinic after a torn ACL and knew Physical Therapy was for me. However, when I got to college, I got lazy (I won’t even deny this) and didn’t want to take any more science classes than I had to.

This resulted in a degree in psychology. Why did I decide on psychology? Because I didn’t spend time changing my major and exploring other fields. I chose one major and stuck to it because I didn’t feel like I could change. Changing majors would mean giving up on something and I didn’t want to disappoint my dad.

Well, it’s been three years, counting an internship year, that I have been working in my current field. I think I’ve known for a while that this is not my passion or my calling, but I’ve always been afraid to leave and try out something else. Afraid of what my parents would say, afraid of how I would support myself financially, afraid of the change.

I’ve finally realized that life is short. Why waste it doing something that doesn’t feed your soul? I’ve slowly come to this realization after years of fighting back the feeling. It’s time to make a change in my career. It probably won’t be easy and will definitely require extra work, but this is my life I’m talking about! I can’t stay unhappy for the next 60+ years!

If you’ve been feeling the same, I’m here with a few tips to hopefully help you out.

Shadow

I am a very impatient person. I get an idea or thought and want to act on it right away. I don’t like being patient and waiting for things to work out. But I’ve had to learn to be patient. A year ago, I took a day off of work and shadowed a Physical Therapist. I was so excited to be in a different setting and see how a PT clinic is run. However, an hour into my observations, I was fighting back yawns and BORED TO DEATH. I couldn’t wait until the day was over and I got to go home.

Obviously Physical Therapy was no longer for me. Thank goodness I tried it out before starting PT school and then realizing after some time and racking up more loans that I didn’t really LOVE this profession either. If I hadn’t of shadowed, I probably would have wasted a lot more time doing something that didn’t feed my soul.

In my search of finding my passion and a new career, I’ve contacted SO many people asking to shadow for a day. I’ve found that there are many people out there who are completely happy with having someone shadow them. Don’t be scared to reach out and blind call people and businesses! The worse thing they can do is tell you no. And then you’ll hang up and call the next place.

Do your research

One of the most important pieces to starting a new career is research, research, research. I can’t tell you how many websites I have looked at and how many google searches I have made. I want to be sure I know exactly what it is I need to do so that when I switch careers, I am not struggling to make ends meet. Not only am I researching careers and degree plans, I’m searching job openings online, seeing what the requirements are. I’m building spreadsheets and Word documents so I have everything in one place and I have an idea of what is needed for each career choice.

If you’re in a job now where you can’t make time to shadow someone, google reviews on jobs, careers, and companies. Search for people who have a career that you are interested in. There are many websites that interview people about their jobs. Read about them! Find out the ups and down of different careers from firsthand accounts of people who work it day in and day out.

Make connections

Have you ever noticed that sometimes things fall into your lap at the most perfect times? Last weekend, I was extremely irritated because my flight home was delayed. I sat in the airport for 4 extra hours, seriously annoyed. A man on my flight started making small talk with me. At first, I wanted no part of it. I was tired and cranky. But it ended up being a great conversation as I told him my stressors about changing careers. He was a policeman and told me all about his job, which opened my eyes to the idea that maybe being a policeman wasn’t for me.  When I told him what I thought I might like to do, he pointed me in the direction of one of his friends who just so happened to be in the profession I am most interested in going into. We exchanged contact information and have stayed in touch. Not only has he helped me career-wise, he has also been there for me during times of stress providing insight and help, as he had also gone through a career change in his early adult years.

From my delayed flight, I was able to make a connection that I otherwise would have never made. I was able to speak to his friend about his career and gain some valuable insight.

Sometimes it just happens with luck, other times you have to search it out. Ask your friends and family members who they know in a certain field you might be interested in. Ask them if they are aware of any jobs within their companies that might interest you. Just don’t give up! Ask all around!

Start Saving

If you’re considering a career change, which may also result in a pay cut (like me), start saving money. (Here is a great blog on surviving temporary money problems and another on being financially smart). Work on putting a little money into savings each month. Calculate how much money you live on now and how much you could potentially live on. Maybe try to cut back on the daily Starbucks trips or fast food run. I know it sounds scary, leaving a job to take another one making less money, but money IS NOT everything. You know what they say, money can’t buy happiness. And it is totally true. You spend the majority of your life working, so why not make it something you enjoy? It may feel great to drive your brand new BMW into your parking spot at work each morning, but if you are dreading the walk from your car to the front door, is it really worth it? Figure out what is important to you.

Realize it may not be sunshine and rainbows

The scary part of life is that it is so unpredictable. We have absolutely no way of knowing if the grass really will be greener on the other side, but I can tell you one thing: If you don’t check it out, you’ll never know. If you are unhappy in your job or career, why keep doing it? Why put yourself through unhappiness every day?

Trust me, you will always land on your feet. Even if you hate your new job, at least you’ve made a change and are one stop closer to finding out what it is you truly want to do in life. Staying complacent is much worse than trying out new things. Granted, no job is going to be great every day. There will be bad days and there will be horrible days. But don’t stay in a job where the bad outweighs the good. I know from personal experience; it is hard to do your best work when your heart just isn’t there. Keep searching until you find that job where the sun shines more than it rains.

We have one life to live. Luckily we don’t have one career we have to stick with. Making changes are scary, but just like my dad tells me, “you can do anything you set your mind to!”

So go out there and find your passion. You owe it yourself.

One woman wasn't happy in her career so she's bravely changing careers so she can be happy. She provides tips and insight into how and why other women should do the same if they haven't yet found what they love to do.

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A community of women helping other women to reach their full potential in all aspects of their lives.