Who said changing careers is easy? If it was me, feel free to point out how wrong I was.
If you were a member of the silent generation, you found a company you wanted to work for, gave it your loyalty, and worked there your whole life. If you were lucky, when you retired you would receive a pension. Those days are long gone. Some of the baby boomer generation might have had that experience, but many of them did not. Now, millennials expect to change jobs regularly, careers occasionally, and to have a side hustle in case they get bored.
For those of us who are from Generation X, we still adhere to the idea of one career. Yes, we might have multiple jobs, especially if you were in the technology field in the 80s. I do remember friends changing jobs almost every year, but they were the exceptions at the time. Now that we are older, we might be in need of a new job or a new career. Some of us are victims of a poor economy and others are just tired of careers that have left us feeling under appreciated, under utilized, or maybe just unfulfilled.
How do you go about changing careers in this situation? If I were to put this article into a decision tree there would be two main branches. The “yes” and the “no” sides of this question: Are you financially secure? Is your retirement funded?
If you are able to answer “yes,” then you have the short side of the diagram. Decide what you want to do and go for it. You might have to cut back on expenses but unless you have to get a four-year degree for your new career, you will be able to transition pretty easily.
If you have to answer “no,” well, I feel you. If you are like me and your retirement is underfunded, your bank account is underfunded, and you are confused, it is going to be tough. I can’t lie to you because I am right there with you. Hopefully, you have someone else to blame besides yourself.
See for me, it’s like this. I got a divorce. I wanted to move back to my home state because that was where all my family lived. Here is where I did one smart thing: I worked out a deal with my employer at the time. While I couldn’t do my whole job remotely, I could do some of it. The company was going through a slow down, so they were happy to let me work freelance on the parts of my job that were remote-friendly. It was a win-win. They had someone to still do the work, they didn’t have to pay benefits, and I got to make my move. But, it pretty much went downhill from there. These are the mistakes you shouldn’t make:
My old company finally found someone to do my whole job, so I was out of a freelance gig. I was enjoying my time with my family so I put off looking for another job until I was mostly broke. Then, I took a job with a company that still created invoices on typewriters. Hey! I was desperate and I thought it would give me some local experience. I wish I had broken myself of the habit of procrastination in school. Unfortunately, it took me another 20 years.
What I should have done: The minute I moved I should have been exploring my options. I knew I wanted to change careers, so I should have started researching immediately.
Overstay Your Welcome
The new job was not a good fit. People joke about it, but the culture of a company is important and I didn’t fit this one very well. They were also attempting to branch out, and I was brought on to help them. Unfortunately, not all members of this family-owned company were behind the new venture. They changed their minds, restructured, moved me around, and changed my job description. Now, I am not talking bad about them. They treated me well and they tried very hard to keep me employed. I did appreciate it, but I should have quit after a few months. I didn’t.
What I should have done: While painful to have to look for a new job so soon, if it is not a good fit, look for something else. Which leads very nicely into the next mistake…
Have a plan before quitting
I finally become so disenchanted, I just quit. I was also so depressed by that time. I then spent a year unemployed and feeling sorry for myself.
What I should have done: I should have been looking for a new job the minute they made the first changes to my job description.
I know, right about now you are thinking that I am the least intelligent Generation Xer you have ever heard of. I might very well agree with you, except that I know I am smart. I just tend to make rash decisions. I also think I was going through a difficult mid-life crisis. (How did I get old enough to be able to call it a mid-life crisis?)
I really did want to change careers and move into a field that I was passionate about. I am finally moving in the right direction. By the fact that you are reading this, you realize I have started writing. For now, this is a side hustle for me. It is something I enjoy, and like millennials, it eases the grind of my day job.
For my final career change, I am exploring my options in the field of animal careers. I need something that will excite me well into my 70s because that is how long it is going to take me to save enough to retire. My passion has always been animals, but when I was younger I felt I could not make a living that way. Now, making a living is important, but so is being happy. I have been researching becoming a dog trainer. I think I have many of the skills and the temperament for it. (My dog is pretty well trained.) My logical side says I should do something more practical, like learn coding and build websites, but that does not sound like as much fun. For now, though, I’m not going to be rash. I am going to do more research. (Maybe I really am getting smarter.)
Photo is public domain from Pixabay
Guest Author Bio
Valerie, originally a computer programmer, is just starting her new career as a writer. She loves the sun, her Australian Shepherd dog, and her husband. When she isn’t mountain biking, listening to music, or reading, she is writing about everything she has learned.
Follow her on twitter: @vkjocums