Things To Consider Before Making A Big Career Change
by Irene Chooi |
Let’s face it, most people work because they have no other choice. They might enjoy the work they’re doing, but very few of us are actually passionate about our jobs. So it’s really no wonder why people keep moving from job to job or embrace the weekends with more gusto than they should (glug, glug).
It’s horrible to feel trapped in a job you’re unhappy in, and the idea of a completely different professional challenge and a brand new life might sound enticing; but before you fold your resignation letter into a paper airplane and try to sail it your boss’s office, here are a few things you have to consider.
1. Why are you leaving?
There could be many reasons why you’re unhappy with your job and feel you need a change. While some of those reasons are valid, such as harassment and unpaid salaries, sometimes emotions can cloud your judgement.
No matter where you go, there is always going to be office politics, your boss is never going to be an angel and you’re probably never going to get your ideal salary. It’s sad but true. No job is perfect. While those can all annoy and frustrate you, are they really enough to make you leave a stable career?
Before you resign, make sure you are leaving for logical and not emotional reasons. When in doubt, talk to someone who knows you and discuss how you feel to ensure you are making the right choice.
2. Do you have the skills for your new job?
I once fantasized about starting my own food truck business. American TV shows make it look so fun! I could travel to new places, meet new people and serve them delicious food - but wait, I can’t cook.
Make sure you find out what’s needed to excel in your new career before you dive into it. This is especially important if it’s something completely different from what you’ve been doing, and be ready for the time and effort it takes to master that new skill.
On the other hand, it pays to be realistic. Wanting to become a paragliding instructor sounds fun, and you might be willing to learn and train, but it’s probably not a good idea if you have a debilitating fear of heights.
3. Do you have a financial buffer?
It takes a lot of guts to make a big career change, but most people won’t tell you it also takes money. Change takes time and you need to be able to sustain your lifestyle (albeit a downgraded one) to allow for the change to take place. It can be quite hard to focus on learning a new skill if you’re constantly hungry.
Whatever changes you are planning, make sure you have a financial buffer to sustain yourself for at least 6 months. That will allow you the luxury of focusing on your career plans and be enough to tide you through any emergencies.
This is also dependent on your situation as well, for example, if you’re planning to return to school for a professional qualification, then the buffer should ideally be bigger.
4. What is your back up plan?
You need to be prepared for the possibility that your career change might not pan out. It might be your dream to join an NGO startup for vulnerable children, but as with all startups, there is a change the company might fail.
Having a financial buffer is important in this instance, but you will also need a backup career plan. Having a list of your transferable skills will be a handy reference here. They can include being a good public speaker, being well-versed in the latest programming language, or having chef-level cooking skills, depending on your back up plan.
Chase your dreams, but understand that they might not come true and be prepared to do something else to survive.
At the end of the day, if you truly are unhappy in your current profession, make a change. But always be realistic about whether your dreams are achievable to save yourself from disappointment or even worse, an empty bank account.
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