Are You Ready For a Career Change?

Wanting to change careers and being ready to change careers are not always the same thing. Sometimes factors in our lives preclude an immediate change. It doesn’t mean you will never be able to pursue a different career; it just means that if you try to make a change in the midst of too many other pressures, you probably won’t be as successful as you would like.

It’s important to take the time to carefully assess your overall readiness to embark on this journey, before making any final decisions. In assessing your readiness, you should consider five key areas.

Reasons for Changing Careers
When considering a career change, people are usually coming from one of two perspectives:

1. Some consider a career change in response to an unpleasant work situation. Their primary goal is to escape the stress and anxiety they are experiencing at work.

2. Others consider a career change as a forward-looking decision. Although they, too, may be unhappy at work, they are looking ahead. They know there are other careers that will excite and challenge them, and they are ready to take the time to figure out what those careers may be.

The difference in these two scenarios is the kind of energy involved. When you are moving toward something, the action of pursuing something new and exciting will maintain your energy and keep you motivated throughout the process. However, if your reason for changing careers is the desire to escape discomfort, you are using a more negative energy that will quickly evaporate as soon as you relieve that discomfort.

Current Job Status
Look at your present job status. Are you currently employed and fairly secure in your job? If so, this might be a good time to begin the process of changing careers. You have a steady income and you have job security, so there is no real external pressure to find a new job right away.

But what if you are currently unemployed or will soon be unemployed? Being in this position does not necessarily mean that you aren’t ready to make a change, but it does raise some important questions. How financially secure are you? How long can you comfortably afford to be unemployed? Given your current job status, how emotionally ready are you to undertake this career change? Would it feel better to wait?

Financial Impact
Financial issues play a key role in determining whether you are ready to embark on a career change. So it is imperative that you take the time to carefully assess the cost of making this kind of change and the impact it will have, both financially and emotionally, on you and your family.

A good rule of thumb is to have enough money to cover your living expenses for at least six months. One of the biggest stressors that people face during a career transition is not having enough money to comfortably see them through the process.

Impact On Your Family
It may be that changing professions will be the best thing in the world for you and your family. You may have a career in mind that would be less stressful for you, that would allow you to spend more time at home, and that would provide financial security. Only after laying out all the facts, addressing everyone’s concerns, and honestly assessing the overall impact of your decision, will you be able to truthfully determine whether this is a good time for you to make this move.

Personal Commitment
The last issue to examine is your level of commitment to making this transition. Making any kind of life change is difficult because changes elicit resistance, and the bigger the change, the greater the resistance. Changing careers is a major life transition, so you can expect to run into a lot of resistance along the way. But if you know deep in your heart that this is the right thing to do, and if you are ready and willing to devote the time and energy needed to make this change, then go for it.


This is an excerpt from WetFeet's Changing Course, Changing Careers. For more tips and information on developing an action plan and assessing your skills and talents, pick up the Insider Guide!

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