How to Change Careers Successfully
The reasons why a person ends up in the career in which he or she is entrenched can run the spectrum from “I thought it was what I loved to do most” to “I thought I could make the most money doing this” to the honest but simple “I don’t know.” Nevertheless, the career we work at the moment doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the career from which we’ll retire. Especially if the career of the moment just isn’t working out.
But how to make a successful career change can be a daunting endeavor, especially when the career we’d like to lose is one that has allowed us to amass a comfortable lifestyle complete with easy cash flow and enough money left over for some fun, some toys, and some investment toward our future. Those things are all very nice but if earning the means behind them makes us so miserable we just can’t face another day on the job, it’s time to make a change.
One of the hardest realities to face when considering how to make a successful career change is that starting a new career means starting at the bottom. You may have run big businesses, invested decades in a particular occupational field, and enjoyed lofty titles but you’ll be a new, fresh face in the next career. Sacrifices will be required.
Perhaps the first step in determining how to make a successful career change is to give some long, hard, serious thought into what that next career will be. The likelihood of sacrificing income, prestige, and a proven track record are factors that keep most people suffering through to retirement in a job that they dread. A career change isn’t something to be done on whim and it isn’t something that can be taken back.
Sometimes we are drawn to a particular area of interest and the draw is so strong we know that how to make a successful career change means we’ll be working in this particular field. In this case, it may be wise to research the field and examine your past career performance, interests, and skills. A lucky few career-changers can parlay some of the skills from their current career into advanced positions in the new, desired career.
For most of us, however, how to make a successful career change means accepting the fact that we are starting over. And it may even mean we don’t know what, exactly, we’d like the next career to be. We just know it’s time to make a change.
There are many counseling services that can help pinpoint areas of interest, aptitude, and previous experience in such a way as to make the career change a successful and pleasant one. Many major universities and community colleges offer such classes to people of all ages. Some therapists can help with this, too, but some people find help in their local library or bookstore. Many books on the subject can help us identify our hearts’ desires even if we don’t seem to be able to name it ourselves.
Sometimes how to make a successful career change depends on trying the new career on for size, so to speak. Do volunteer work in the field of interest. Start small, making the new career a hobby job. Some people find that doing what they love as a hobby keeps if fresh and exciting but doing it as a means of earning a living converts that love of doing it for the sake of doing it into the drudgery of a job, just like the one that’s causing the sense of restlessness now.
Depending upon the field of interest, how to make a successful career change may mean educational credentials. Before abandoning a job as a schoolteacher in Florida for a culinary career in California, take some cooking classes. Learn how the industry works from the inside. It’s impossible to know how an industry works without some insight into the behind-the-scenes aspects of the industry. Learn as much as you can while maintaining your current career if this is at all possible.
And, when it’s just not possible to continue that dreaded career any longer, just do it. Sometimes it takes a bold move to make a bold change. If you aren’t worth a little boldness in your own life, who is?