As life expectancy increases, the world changes. Years ago, it was normal to get married in your late teens, stay together forever and still only celebrate your 40th anniversary. Most of us remember our grandparents, but few of us remember great-grandparents, which are now becoming a more common part of our family structure. Even better, it’s not just our life expectancy that has increased, the quality of life that we are to expect has also improved.
When we were young, those grandparents that we remember already seemed old, even though they were perhaps only in their late 50’s. They were often ill. They spent time in hospital and old age seemed a terrible thing. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to find people in their 70’s and even 80’s, living fun, active lives. Free from illness and the confines of age.
It’s not just family sets ups that are changing and growing. Our careers are also changing. The average retirement age is approaching 70, and many people continue to work for even longer, either to earn the money that they need to maintain their quality of life or because they can’t stand the idea of retirement. After a busy and fulfilling career, the idea of suddenly having no focus or anything to get out of bed for can be daunting. Especially if you are fit and healthy and able to work.
Years ago, we chose a career in our late teens. Trained and studied for a long time. Worked hard to gain promotions. Then, we either retired or passed away before the time came. By the time we settled into a career we might have only had 30 years working. Nowadays it’s not uncommon for our working lives to last for 50 or even 60 years.
During that time, we change. We change a lot, and we do it more than once. Few of us have the same hobbies, interests, and passions at 40 as we did when we were 17. So, why should we be expected to do the same job? Now that we are living, and working, for so much longer, it’s more important than ever that we find jobs that we love.
Imagine being stuck in a job that makes you unhappy for twenty years or more? Being unhappy at work can cause further issues. You can struggle to sleep because you are worried about work. Your relationships can be affected if you are coming home stressed out and annoyed every day. You can find yourself drinking more alcohol, spending more money or indulging in other bad habits to make things seem more bearable.
Yet unfortunately, many of us live this way. If we spend years training, and a fortune on higher education, the idea of giving it all up to try something else can make us feel guilty. We can have doubts, struggle on through the bad days, and be left with a retirement filled with regrets. But, why? Why not try a career change instead? Here are some things that you should do first.
Don’t Rush in
The last thing that you want to do is rush into a career change because you’ve had a bad week. Take your time to think about it carefully and consider your options before you do anything rash like handing in your notice. Are you unhappy at work? Could you make any changes that would help? Speak to your manager and colleagues before rushing in. If you do decide that it’s time to move on, again, don’t rush your next move or you could end up merely moving from job to job without ever finding a career that you love.
Think About What Parts of Your Job You Enjoy
So, you are unhappy at work. That doesn’t mean that you hate everything about it. Write a list of the things that you enjoy about your current and previous jobs. Do you enjoy working with customers or with your hands? Do you like working flexible hours? How do you like working as a part of a large team? Do you enjoy your commute? These positives might be things that you want to look for in your next position.
And Those That You Hate
There’s also bound to be things about your current and past jobs that you’ve hated, dreaded or just not enjoyed. Write these down too, no matter how silly, or job-specific they seem to be. These are the things that you’ll want to avoid going forward.
Write Down Your Transferable Skills
When it comes to finding a position in a different field, a lack of experience can obviously count against you. But, in many cases, your skills are as important as direct experience. We’ve all got transferable skills, whether you know it or not. Say you’ve spent the last few years working in a busy store, your key skills could include organization, time management, coping well under pressure, and dealing with hostile situations. These key skills are crucial in many fields.
Find Your Passion
You need to make sure that your career change is worth it. So, take your time to think about what you love, what you enjoy doing and what you feel passionate about. This could be anything, and you don’t necessarily need to be good at it. If you love sports but have little natural talent for your favorites, how about becoming a sports writer or blogger, a sports photographer or you could become a fitness tutor. Think about what you love, and then think about any related careers, even if you need to think outside of the box a little to find the right fit.
Perhaps the main reason that people today put off a career change, even when they are unhappy is financial. Most of us live paycheck to paycheck and just can’t afford to be without a job. When you are working full time and dealing with other family commitments, and you can’t afford to take time off, how are you meant to apply for jobs? When will you have the time to go to interviews or take on training? Then, of course, there’s the fact that even if you did manage to find a new job, you might be in for a big drop in pay. If you’ve worked your way up your current career ladder, you may now be on a decent wage. Changing career might mean starting at the bottom again, and your paycheck will reflect this. How are you going to support your family?
The best thing that you can do is start saving as soon as you decide that you want to make a change. Save enough that you can take a few weeks or even months off between jobs. But, also enough to cover bills for a while if things don’t go well.
You might also want to make some cutbacks. Remember, happiness is more than stuff. Cancel some contracts, make other cutbacks and create a household budget. Look at how much you need to be earning to get by, not how much you need to maintain your current quality of life. Remember what’s important.
Even if you’ve saved up, you might not have enough money or time to head back to school. But you have got other options. You could study online, part-time, at a local college in the evenings. You can read up and teach yourself, and even apply for related volunteer jobs to gain further knowledge and experience.
Then, It’s Time to Jump
You don’t want to rush, but you can’t keep putting it off either. When you’ve found something that you really want, and saved enough money, don’t make excuses, jump in.