There’s a high chance that the person reading this article wasn’t born under circumstances where it’s not necessary to have a career or work in a lifetime. Only a small percentage of the global population was born with such rare privileges. For the rest of us, we aspire, and we do what we can to find ways of earning a living.
That being said, the majority of us are often gripped by fear and guilt for even considering whether we should be thinking of making a career switch from a job that we already hold. What about my income? Will I even be able to get another job in an industry I have no experience in? What about people who depend on me for income? Am I being selfish for thinking about job satisfaction when I should be lucky enough to even have a job in the midst of a global pandemic? These are all valid concerns if the thought of switching careers has ever crossed your mind.
I am one such example of a person who has experienced this. And let me tell you right off that it’s not a cowardly thing to do. It’s not because I was weak and am unable to stomach the pressure of the previous full-time job I was holding, which by the way, was paying me well. On the contrary, I’d say it was one of the most courageous and boldest steps I’ve ever taken in terms of my personal and professional growth. It came with its fair share of challenges and obstacles. Those closest to me questioned my decision to give up an entire career that I’ve built, the good money I was making, and the security that came with it.
Was leaving an industry that I was familiar with and taking the leap of faith into the unknown worth it in the end? At this point in my journey, I’ve yet to reach the light at the end of the tunnel, but I can surely see the light. The journey has been a great learning experience and very rewarding. However, there are a few conditions that must be met before you take the leap.
Should You Switch Careers?
There are a few important questions to ask yourself before you take the leap of faith of switching careers, and they start with why, what, where, when, who, and how.
Start with the most important one: why do you want to leave your current career (3 signs you should switch) and why are you looking for a job change? This will differ widely for each individual, but reasons such as “I do not like my co-workers” or “I’m not satisfied with my pay” just do not hold water when considering a switch in industries. We’re talking about an entirely new career here, one that differs from what you already know and have been doing. In my case, I had a clear vision to pursue work that was more aligned with my passions for writing and music. It was something that I’ve always wanted to do even before I entered the workforce all those years ago, but lacked the courage and the resources to do so. I also did it because I do not want to live a life of regrets by not giving myself the chance to work on these passions.
When it comes to income continuity while making the switch, there are two ways to go about it: you either secure that new dream job before leaving your old one, or you may have to take some time off to explore how you’re going to get there. The former is an ideal situation, but you should be mentally prepared for the possibility of taking a pay cut (sometimes a huge one) from what you’re used to because you are starting afresh. The latter strategy requires you to rely on your savings, and how much you should save up for depends on the timeframe that you’re giving yourself. Take stock of all the financial commitments that you have, and make sure that they can be taken care of first before you dive into the unknown, without financially burdening those around you.
This leads me to my next point about planning this out. Having a timeframe for you to do this is important, because it makes you accountable to yourself by setting a period for you to try to make this career switch. It also helps those closest to you to understand that you’re taking this period of time to try and find a footing in a new industry. While you may not be able to figure out how you’re actually going to get there until you’ve actually attempted to, by for example taking on related jobs or studying a course to upskill, having an end goal is important. You have to know what you’re working toward and what you see yourself doing as your new career.
Another point I’d like to make is that you have to know and identify your greatest strengths and weaknesses. Knowing your skill set and knowing what you cannot do will make your efforts to improve and upskill more targeted. It also helps you to inch closer to your end goal if you understand the requirements of the job, so that it’s not always a shifting goal post for you.
In my case, I’ve followed through with taking the leap of faith to pursue a career that is more aligned with my passions. Within a month of leaving my full-time job, I’ve taken on multiple writing assignments to expand my writing portfolio (how to turn writing into a side gig), and I also became a guitar instructor at a music academy. It is certainly a huge pay cut, but ultimately this was a decision I made in order to pursue more job satisfaction. While it’s not my end goal of being a more established writer and musician, I find what I currently do for a living is in synergy with my passions, and could not be happier to do it. It was a successful pivot from being in the media industry to being a writer and musician, or at least half way there.
Some people will say that there’s no better time than now to make a career switch, but no one should ever make such a brash decision until the reason becomes clear. Take calculated risks, but more importantly, make the actual steps and commit to switching your career if you’re clear as to why you should do it. The truth is, you might end up waiting forever to take the leap of faith despite answering and taking care of all the important questions outlined above. Most of us tend to fear the unknown, but no innovation ever came from sticking to the old and familiar. All you need is a little calculated wisdom and some courage. Take that leap of faith, and land on both feet. It’s the perfect time to make a career switch.
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