At some point in our careers, and maybe more than once, many of us decide that we want to make a change. In spite of how long we've worked in a particular field or profession, we decide that we would like to do something different. Maybe we'd like to pursue that thing we've always dreamed of doing; or maybe it's a new-found love that we do on occasion but long to do on a full-time basis; maybe we no longer enjoy doing what we've done for the past twenty years; or maybe we've been downsized and have decided that this is a good opportunity to make a much-needed, long-awaited change. Whatever way we discover or experience this new pull, it all boils down to wanting to make a shift in our careers after having invested significant time in the work we've been doing, possibly, for years.
We've heard of people, and may even know some, who have successfully changed career lanes and the type of work they do: the systems analyst who became a school teacher; the lawyer who became a non-profit director; the social worker turned college professor; the accountant who becomes a real estate agent; the nurse who's now an interior designer; the journalist who becomes a pastry chef; and we could go on. But how does one really do this? How do we successfully transition from one career and line of work to something, sometimes, starkly different? And not just transition, but transition without what many of us want to avoid: without starting from the bottom or from the beginning within our new industry? Let's face it, if you've worked in a field for a good number of years, you've, likely, advanced in that particular field in more ways than one: in knowledge, experience, and, of course, in salary. And chances are, the salary range you're in is the salary range you'd like to keep when you enter your new profession.
I cannot tell you how many attorney-friends I've had over the years, particularly women with young children, who, at some point decided they wanted to make significant changes in their careers and maybe even stop practicing law altogether--a song I personally know all too well. They've usually started out, just as I, insisting that, in their new professions, they earn the same amount of money, that they work fewer hours, and that they have much more flexibility in their schedules so they can spend more time at home and with their kids. But what are some realities? Well, for starters, one is that you have to actually qualify to enter the new profession, which may mean going back to school, getting another degree, and maybe even volunteering in the new field to build the knowledge, experience, and relationships necessary to fully make the transition. Another is that once you qualify, you may not earn the salary you've become accustomed to, at least, not right away. And another is that you may not get certain benefits and freedoms in your new-found field the moment you walk through the door. After all, you're a newbie!
So, what's the best way to approach changing careers:
-- 1. Recognize your realities. Yes, miracles can happen, and, yes, it's not impossible for someone to open up a door for you to enter a brand new field, where you don't have to make any sacrifices whatsoever and can start at the top with the salary and all the benefits, flexibility, and freedoms you want the moment you walk through the door, but also realize that may not happen, and that it's not far-fetched if it doesn't;
-- 2. Be prepared to bridge the gap. While you may be an absolutely stellar performer, highly-decorated with an outstanding record of accomplishments in your current role, you may have a huge learning curve to bend. You may have great passion and a strong pull towards your new field, but that alone, even if you have a natural talent for the work you’ll be doing, doesn't make you qualified and competent. So, be prepared to invest new time and new energy in getting the necessary credentials to effectively perform in your new space; and
-- 3. Ease into it. Just because your desire to transition burns inside of you like a flame that won't go out, be patient, and don't be drastic. Take time to explore your prospective profession and the best possible ways to depart where you are and enter where you want to go. There's nothing wrong with being inspired by others who have successfully changed lanes, but everyone's circumstances are not the same. You may need to dibble and dabble in your new field for a considerable time before fully jumping in, but that's okay. If it's a field worth entering, it will be there when the best time comes for you to make your move.--
As you recognize your realities, work on bridging your gaps, and patiently chart and ease your way into your new career, don't let having to, possibly, start at the beginning or the "bottom" deter you from making a change. Just as you've been a highly-decorated, stellar-, and star-performer in your current role, decide that you'll be the same, and even more, in your new one. Onward and Upward!
Like you, Katrina loves seeing people in healthy relationships (with themselves and others) that they genuinely enjoy and not just simply tolerate. This blog is dedicated to achieving that vision.