One of the scariest things you can do is completely change your career path. However, after acknowledging that so much unhappiness was created by my corporate job, the decision became obvious.
In my first post, I wrote about how I'm making a series of positive changes (to live my best possible life). After wrapping my head around that concept, my next task was to figure out exactly what was bothering me and contributing to my unhappiness.
This isn't easy for many people to do because it requires us to openly and honestly examine each part of our own lives. It can be very difficult to admit that, for example, a job or relationship needs to change in some way because it's creating too much stress and anxiety.
So I put a lot of thought into this and made a list (many lists, actually!) of everything and everyone responsible for negatively affecting my mental health. It took me a while but I was able to pinpoint most of the root causes of my mental health issues.
It was no surprise that "work" was a major contributor to my unhappiness. From my experiences speaking with others, this is quite common. For me, it wasn't just my job; it was my career path in general. I have a creative spirit and I'm passionate about the arts but I found myself working in a generic corporate office, doing generic corporate stuff. Over the past 5 years, this daily grind had sapped me of all my energy, so that by the end of each workday, I had very little motivation to do anything productive.
Changing careers is a very big deal and, for most of us, it's not easy to do. There is uncertainty about learning something new or, potentially, working different hours. Also, it usually means starting at the bottom until you gain enough experience to earn enough money to pay the bills. (It's so easy to become addicted to the money and lose sight of what "success" actually means.)
One thing was for certain: changing my career path would bring a very significant positive change and I reminded myself that I deserve to be happy. Because of this, I set out to solve the following problems:
1. What do I want to do with my life?
2. How will I educate and train myself?
3. How will I afford to change careers?
1. Choosing what I want to do:
I put a lot of careful thought into my career change. I created a Venn diagram to list what I enjoy, what I'm good at and what will earn me a decent income. The skills that overlapped all three sections represented my best bet for a career change. This concept helped me decide on a job I'll love and that I'm good at, while also paying a decent wage.
Take a look at this printable dream job Venn diagram that you can use in your own search for the right career. If you or anyone you know is going through a struggle with work that was similar to mine, I strongly suggest filling this out. See if there's a different career that would make you happier. Life is short and you don’t want to spend your work days being miserable and emotionally drained. And don't forget, success is not defined by how much money you earn or how extravagantly you live. It's about being happy in everything you do! If you can achieve that, you'll no longer feel like you're living for the weekend.
2. Educating and training myself:
If you are changing from one job to another within the same industry, you might find it to be a simple transition. However, shifting into a new career can be a drastic change and require some education and training. Being an adult and having to go back to school was a scary thought but rest assured, there are ways to educate and train yourself without having to enter a classroom.
For me, the career change I'm working towards requires me to learn a whole new skill set. So, naturally, that means going back to school. What made my decision even more complicated was the fact that I wasn't able to quit my job (for financial reasons). My solution was to look into part-time school options where I could do all of my learning online. Nowadays, there are SO MANY schools offering part-time and online programs for this exact reason. Adults looking to change careers can keep their income flowing and study from the comfort of their homes. This is the path I decided to take! I was able to plan my entire school schedule in a way that didn't interfere with my work schedule or my after-work obligations. I have nearly completed my first year and it has worked out really well for me!
3. Making sure I can afford to change careers:
Not having enough money seems to get in the way of so many plans! Can I afford it? Is it worth it? How much do I need to put away into savings? You definitely need to consider your income and expenses before you decide to change your career.
If you know your career change will require schooling and you can't afford to leave your job, consider studying part-time during evenings and weekends. Taking your courses online isn't for everyone but it definitely saves additional time commuting to and from the classroom and you can make your own schedule. Being a working student might take you longer to change you career but it allows for financial flexibility. The main thing is that you are working towards your vision!
If money is less of an issue for you, great! Being a full-time student could be your best option. However, not everyone has that luxury and taking a leave of absence in the income department might not be possible. If this is the case, planning and budgeting will be key. No matter what decision you make, be smart and minimize the stress you add to your life. Since money is such a large source of stress, it's important to think this through carefully.
As I work towards my own career change, I will share different ideas for saving money and being efficient with my time. This is definitely the hardest thing I've had to do yet but I'm certain that I'm (finally!) travelling in the right direction, along my journey to self-discovery.
If you have any ideas of your own, please share them in the comments section below.
Thank you for reading.
Who What Zen