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Do you want to make a career move that involves starting an entirely different career? Feelings of insignificance and doubt are slowly making you question the last few years of your career. Did you go to college for nothing? Did you pursue that graduate degree in vain? As you take an inventory of your life, it’s as if the walls are closing in on you and you need an escape. Now! Well, don’t jump ship..at least not the career ship.
Many people have regrets as it relates to career choices. Thoughts of choosing one career over another haunts many individuals. There are two things happening here: (1) Either you have chosen the wrong career and you need to do some self-reflection to determine your strengths and passions to determine what career you need to pursue; or, (2) You are in the right career but the wrong organization. In the latter case, you are trying to make the right shoes fit the wrong feet.
Let’s explore this further….
How to Pursue a Career Change
I have been in my career for about 15 years now and there were many times that I wanted to change careers. Every time I tried, I always ended up using those same skills in a different context. I’ve never completely transitioned into another career but I know people who have. I think this has to be one of the bravest things anyone can do especially after getting married and starting a family. My husband’s best friend is in his final years of pharmacy school. I admire the fact that he and his wife count the cost and decided the sacrifice for a few years will bring great rewards when he is a pharmacist.
If you are at your wit’s end with your current career, you may want to consider making a change. It’s a scary proposition because you may be making decent money. Starting something new may require you to take a cut in pay. However, some skills are transferable. You could just as easily make a lateral move without sacrificing salary. I would not recommend you taking a paycut if your family can’t absorb the costs of it.
However, the alternative to sticking with a job you despise, even when the pay is good, can be a soul-sucking proposition. If you must spend eight hours or more working, why not make those hours fulfilling? A career change may be just the way to accomplish this.
You should keep in mind that your career is not necessarily your purpose in life. It may be a part of it, but for many people, there is a need to look a lot deeper. For instance, you may love helping others out and feel that is your purpose. If your current career doesn’t focus on helping people, this can help you determine where to look to make changes. Try to find organizations where you can make a difference.
If you go this route, you will align what you want to do for your career with what you feel is your purpose. That will make your new career choice fulfilling. It can give you a reason to want to get up to go to work, which is fantastic.
Don’t let a cut in pay hold you back. There are plenty of ways to supplement your income that doesn’t require taking on another traditional job. You can freelance part-time to fill in the gaps. The extra income could also help you pay for any training you may need for your new career path.
The beginning stages of a career switch are usually the most challenging. You need to couple learning with climbing the corporate ladder. If you are starting your own business for the first time, there will be much to learn. You’ll continually need to be learning. In either case, expect to put in long hours especially at the beginning.
Right Career. Wrong Company
It is so easy to find yourself doing what you love for the wrong organization. It may make you feel like you need to switch careers but I will challenge you to really examine the entire situation. You may love your work but may be limited to expressing your creativity and input. You may have a boss that doesn’t value your opinion. That could be crushing to you if you would like the autonomy to make big decisions that could greatly impact the organization.
One thing to consider is that you must weigh the costs of this and examine your attitude. First of all, there is no perfect company. You will never get your way all of the time. You have to pick your battles. What is the percentage of times your input is valued and accepted. If you are working on the 80/20 principle, I would say that this is very reasonable.
Sometimes organizations are extremely slow to implement. If you are a go-getter and like brainstorming and executing, then a company that has a reputation of taking six months to a year to see a project to completion may not be for you. Perhaps you can find fulfillment in a start-up or an entrepreneurial environment where money is time and there is no time to waste.
Another sign that you are probably in the right career but wrong company is if you feel like you have become stagnant in your skill and growth. Many people who have been with organizations 5, 10 or 15 years or longer become complacent and are okay with the status quo. They will ride with their job right into retirement with no real need for innovation or skill development. That doesn’t mean you have to take on this behavior; however, if it hinders you from using your skills to advance the mission of the company, you are in the wrong place.
Lastly, if you have a leader who has a different vision for your growth than you do, it is definitely time to move on. No one should ever set the course of your life. That is your responsibility! They can provide input but if it is a direction that you don’t see for your life, you have to use your voice and express your concerns. If they hear you, great! If not, that is a red flag and you need to begin your exit strategy.
When you focus on tying your career and finding your purpose together, the decisions needed to establish your new path becomes much more natural. Whether it is to make a career change or a company change, is totally up to you. Yes, you could randomly pick a way forward. However, it’s more likely you will succeed when you fit your new career with who you are or who you want to become.
So…are you trying or have you tried to make the right shoes fit the wrong feet?