How to Change Careers
The fast-paced nature of today’s society has changed, and still continues to change, the way in which we live our daily lives. Everything from the way we shop to the way we communicate has changed.
We now live in a world where people can communicate with each other from anywhere in the world at any time. This huge shift has also trickled down to the working world. Whether you’re in your office, sitting on your couch, or are on top of a mountain, we’ve officially entered a new era of communication, life, and the way we work.
Because of this monumental shift, employees are voluntarily quitting their jobs at record numbers. According to data statistics from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, 20.2 million people left their employers from May to September 2021.
Truth is, people change, adapt, move on, lose interest, gain perspective, and shift priorities. And as the world changes, many have realized the job you chose at 20 may not be the job you still love doing at 40. You may be considering a midlife career change, and I am here to tell you that it’s okay if you are – It’s completely normal.
If you’re wondering how to change careers successfully to start doing what you love, you’ve come to the right place.
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Why change careers?
There could be many reasons you consider making a career change:
- You may have outgrown your current career or gained interest in something new.
- You may have decided that you want to do more for yourself
- You want to make more money
- You may simply just want a change
Regardless of your reason, making a career change can sometimes seem like a daunting task. If you’ve ever felt stressed about how to make a career change, though, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be as scary as you think.
Here, I will provide some helpful career change advice and answer your questions on how to make a career change in the most seamless way possible.
When is the Best Time to Change Careers?
You can consult with 100 people about when the best time to make a career change is, and they could give you 100 different, seemingly correct, answers. But the only person that will have the right answer is you.
Truth is, there is no right time or age to change careers!
The best time to do so is whenever you deem it best for your life and your goals. The best career change advice at this moment would be to follow your gut.
Doing so may not come as a big epiphanic moment but as a gradual culmination of feelings that point you in a new direction.
Though it may not be entirely obvious when the right time is for you, there are key moments in life that make it easier to see the new pathways opening up for you.
Here are some of those moments:
You’ve Entered a New Stage of Life
Everyone can recount the pivotal moments in their lives. From graduating college and moving out of their hometown to having children and even just waking up one morning deciding they want to try something new – we experience significant events that mark the entrance into a new stage of our lives.
These moments allow us to be introspective, to figure out what it is we really want to pursue. They force us to shed our comfortable layers and transform into something new.
A new graduate, for example, may decide to utilize their diploma to pursue a career in finance and climb the corporate ladder.
A new father may consider taking a coding boot camp in hopes of finding a career that will help him provide more for his growing family.
These new stages in life act as catalysts to all kinds of change and are excellent times to re-assess your own personal and professional journey.
You no longer enjoy what you currently do
If you feel annoyed or unmotivated about the work you do on a daily basis, you may be due for a career change.
There’s a reason these feelings are arising. Let’s say you went to college to become an accountant, but after 10 years in the field crunching numbers all day, you begin to feel disconnected and unhappy in your role.
The feeling makes you uncomfortable, and you try to push it down because leaving the job now would feel like a sunk cost. You consider all the work you’ve done and how far you’ve come, but it still doesn’t feel like enough.
These uncomfortable feelings are asking you to look inwards, to realign with your true purpose and goals. You spend most of your time working, so it’s important to feel passionate about what you’re doing.
Now let’s say you’ve always had an interest in writing, but never pursued it because you were worried you wouldn’t make it. Now, after 10 years of crunching numbers, you are dreaming of pursuing a career in writing. You are understanding now how essential it is to enjoy your work, and that in itself is enough reason for a job change.
Your mental/physical health is taking a toll
Work can, no doubt, be stressful. There are times where you think to yourself, “work makes me anxious.”
While a normal about of stressful is healthy and motivates you to be productive, high levels of constant stress may take a toll on your physical and mental health.
Studies have shown that workplace stress is a strong risk factor that can lead to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and stroke. It also leads to adverse effects on workers’ mental health, increasing the risk of anxiety, burnout, and depression.
Stressed employees are more likely to engage in self-destructive behaviors, such as smoking, substance abuse, and unhealthy eating patterns.
If you’re noticing that the stress you feel at work outweighs your enjoyment of the job, it may be time to consider how to make a career change.
You Want More for Yourself
Whether you’re not aligning with the company culture or looking to earn more money, sometimes the desire to change careers stems from simply wanting more for yourself.
Joblist’s Midlife Career Crisis survey reports on the five leading reasons people change careers:
- Better Pay: 47%
- Too Stressful: 39%
- Better Work-Life Balance: 37%
- Wanted a New Challenge: 25%
- No Longer Passionate About Field: 23%
Staying in the same job forever may seem honorable, but if you’re not learning and being challenged in that job then what is the point?
If you feel like a change would result in more happiness, then why not give it a try?
How to Change Careers – Step By Step Guide
No matter the reason you have for wanting to make a career change, there are steps you should follow in order to do so in the least stressful and most seamless way possible.\
Identify What You Do and Do NOT Like About Your Current Career
When making a career change, it’s very important to understand what changes you’re hoping to see in your new career. This is an opportunity for you to consider the qualities that have turned you off from your current career.
You can create a pro and con list about your current job. This way, you can be clear about the elements you hope to replicate and the elements you hope to avoid in your new career. While all careers have their ups and downs, it’s important to recognize what your personal priorities are in your new career.
For example, a con for your current job is that it may not be paying you well, but a pro is that you like your coworkers. Now you know that when looking for a new career, you should search for opportunities that provide better salaries and have a positive company culture.
Be 100% Sure About the Career You DO Want
The grass may seem greener on the other side, but in reality, the grass is greenest where you water it.
That doesn’t mean you should stay put and suffer at a job you don’t enjoy; it means that you should find something that you want to and enjoy putting effort into. This may require getting your hands dirty, but it will be worth it in the end.
This requires you to do some research. If you already have an idea about what your next career move will be, focus on learning more about it. Ask trusted friends, family, and your network of colleagues in that field for their feedback. Their honest feedback and personal experiences will help you determine if you could see yourself in that career.
Additionally, you can work on mock tasks from that career to ensure that you actually enjoy the work. This can turn your theory into truth.
Create an action plan to follow through on your goals
When considering making a career change, you spend a significant amount of time thinking and dreaming about what it will be like. When you finally decide you want to do it, having a plan in place will turn your dreams into reality.
Creating a step-by-step plan will keep you motivated and help hold you accountable for your goals. Here are some great ways to be prepared when the time comes:
- Make sure your cover letters and resumes are updated to reflect your current role
- Keep your social media profiles clean and work-friendly
- Start identifying jobs you’d be interested in doing
- Research growing companies you’d like to work for
If you need more career change advice, check out my 7 tips for finding a new job.
Create a budget
In addition to your action plan, it’s important to create a budget for your career change. Your career change will hopefully bring in more cash flow, but you want to ensure you’re prepared for anything.
Transitioning between careers may be a drawn-out process, so you want to create a budget that helps you stay on track to continue providing for yourself while searching for your next incredible opportunity.
Budget out your activities, monthly memberships, and other expenses to see what can be adjusted during the transition period, if necessary.
If your budget is tight, consider staying in your current job until you have another in the pipeline. It may require some extra work for a while, but you will feel less anxious about making a career change if you feel comfortable financially.
Get as much experience in your ideal new career path as possible
Looking for a new career takes time and many of us do not have the luxury of putting our current career on hold while looking for another one.
Though it will require extra work, this is when you should consider using your free time to hone in on developing your skills for your new career. This could mean getting certifications, taking courses, and learning new software that will help prepare you for the new role.
Make a graceful and humble transition
When you’ve finally found your new career and plan on leaving your current role, make sure your exit is a graceful one to avoid burning bridges and ruining relationships that could be beneficial to you in the future.
Express gratitude for the experience you’ve had, even if the only thing you can say you learned from your old job is what you didn’t like.
You never know who you will interact with again in the future, or what connections you may need to lean on. When it comes time to move on, give your current company enough time to find a replacement and offer to help them transition your role.
Then, when beginning your new career, be open and welcoming to new people, advice, and feedback. This is your opportunity to make a great impression and hit the ground running.
If you’re looking for tools to help you with your career change, check out my Personal Development Plan Template. You can use it as a reference to help you achieve your goals and optimize your success.
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and Youtube.