Everyone thinks about changing careers a few times in their life, whether it comes on the heels of a bad day at work, after realizing that a friend or family member is making a lot more money, or as part of a fantasy of an entire new lifestyle. “It would be like being on vacation 24/7!” you might imagine looking at the cruise staff while you’re taking a week off with your family, ignoring the reality of the grueling hours and low pay.
But sometimes that longing for a career change is more serious, and people do tend to change careers at least once if not several times in their lives. How do you evaluate whether or not it’s time to make the move?
The Rest of Your Life
The first thing to do when you have an urge to change your career is consider whether this is a proxy for something else going on in your life. Are you trying to help your marriage survive stress or maybe you are unhappy about where you live?
Maybe you need to put in a transfer at work to another department or another city, not change up your whole career. Maybe it’s time to quit living with roommates and finally buy a house. Maybe you’re ready to start a family.
However, if you’ve done an audit of your life and concluded that it really is the career that needs changing, the next step is to figure out how to make that change.
Training and Education
What’s your background? Will you need to retrain or go back to school to pursue a change? This can stop some people from making the leap, but it shouldn’t. Keep in mind that there are many ways to pay for education.
You can utilize Earnest student loans, and the process of finding out whether you are eligible has been streamlined by many private lenders. The time involved in pursuing an education could be daunting as well, but the fact is that the same few years will pass anyway whether or not you are getting a degree.
There are just a few professions you may want to think twice about if you are already in middle age; for example, the long process of becoming doctor, including the demands of residency, might make becoming a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant a more practical approach. However, in general, it really is never too late.
Choosing Your New Career
Some people will know exactly what it is they want to be doing instead. For others, this part could be a lot more difficult. You may just feel vaguely dissatisfied but unsure of what you want to change, or maybe there’s a field you’re interested in that you don’t know much about. In the former case, a life coach might be helpful in digging into that dissatisfaction.
In the latter case, talking to people in the field, following then on social media, going to informational interviews, and even shadowing people if you are able to will teach you a lot about a profession. You could also see a career counselor to discuss your interests and aptitudes and some possible new directions for you.