If you’re not challenged at work, feel stuck and don’t get along with your boss, then chances are, like about 87% of the worldwide workforce, you hate your job or are completely disengaged.
And yet you still wake up in the morning, drag yourself out of bed, consume an overlarge amount of caffeine and pull yourself through the workday all the while wishing you were doing something else – taking too many bathroom breaks to make the day a little bit more bearable.
That isn’t living, and yet so many people subject themselves to a job that isn’t right for them.
It comes down to two concepts: fear and risk – and the two go hand in hand. Most people are afraid of the risk of leaving their jobs; there is a reason “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t” has become such a common phrase. It’s a built-in survival instinct to fear risk.
So in order to overcome it, your nebulous fear of losing a job needs to become the calculated move of starting a new career.
At what point does “the honeymoon is over” become “this job isn’t working for me anymore”? There is no set timeframe, no magical formula; what it does come down to is passion.
While there are bumps in the road and expected growing pains, that’s different from being devoid of passion.
If you spend Sunday dreading Monday and get sick at the thought of waking up on Monday morning, likely your passion is gone and turned into a gnawing dislike, if it wasn’t already obvious to you.
When The Spark Is Gone
Almost like an addiction, the first step to move forward from the wrong job is admitting it’s the wrong job, recognizing that this field or this company just isn’t for you anymore. It’s a big hurdle, one that not everyone crosses in their lifetime because often it involves facing all those adult fears we generally try and avoid, like:
- fear or failure
- fear of losing money
- fear of losing pride
- fear of the new
- fear of regret
- fear of losing status
Those are a lot of fears; it’s no wonder many choose not to face them.
Changing careers means you have to step away from the comfortable lies you’re telling yourself – you’re happy, you’re just going through a rough patch, you’d like the job better if you weren’t so busy, everyone says this is the right job for you – and recognize the lies. It means cutting the crap and facing your own humanity.
So many people do not want to go through that process.
When you take the step towards acknowledging your job isn’t the right choice for your happiness, the next phase is to face what you’re afraid of by leaving your current position.
Find ways to relieve those fears, face and move past them. Be great, and don’t let yourself wade in unhappy mediocrity for the rest of your life, counting the days until retirement.
Rather than internalizing the fears of losing a job, actively address them; prepare for leaving a position like you’re managing a new project. Be organized, set goals and dangle carrots for yourself, as addressing and conquering fear is not always a short or easy process.
Finding ways to address fear is different for everyone, and everyone has different triggers, so here are a few good starting points:
- The Pro/Con list: it’s an old tactic not just reserved for girls in middle school gossiping over their new crush. Listing out the pros and cons of changing a career, and carefully articulating the worst-case scenario of each con will help you recognize irrational fears versus realistic fears.
- Tasks: Break a long-term goal into short-term achievable tasks that can be tackled easily so you aren’t overwhelmed by the largesse of the decision to quit your job.
- Find a mentor: Alive or dead, find someone who motivates you to overcome the fear or change.
Replace fear with courage and move forward to preparing for that now-desired change.
Preparing For Change
Without fear as a barrier now, it’s easier to look to the future with hope. A successful career change requires research and a ready mind.
Look into the basic skills required of your new career and start finding ways to learn them. Whether it’s programs online or night classes at the local community college there are an infinite number of resources out there. You have no excuses for not taking advantage of them.
Saving money in addition to an emergency fund is equally as important as gaining the skills of your new field. Factor in the time it may take to climb back up to a similar salary and what the earning potential of said career is. Understand your budget and where you can tighten your belt when the time comes for you to move on from your current position.
If networking isn’t a part of the mix yet, make sure it is – introverts and extroverts alike.
Meeting people in your future industry will help get a feel for the general mindset of the space and will more specifically introduce you to people who might be a perfect mentor for answering questions and helping to understand the pros and cons of the industry as a whole or a given company or supervisor.
Networking can be the perfect way to find your “in.”
Once you’ve got all this going, it takes time to percolate. The right time, the right opportunity, the right company – it’s not going to land in your lap the day you decide to change careers.
Have your career change “go bag” always at hand – always be in the mental state you need to be in (whatever that may be) to make that step change and move across disciplines.
And now you’re ready – or at least as ready as you can be to make a life-changing choice. Taking that step forward will help you feel more comfortable with change, with uncertainty, with recognizing when it’s time to let go and move forward.
Take that step and the end result of a successful career change is a rewarding satisfaction and a future career not haunted by “what if.”
Loving Mondays since 2004,