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Have you made a career change?

By January 7, 2009 - 11:15am
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I am thinking about trying to make a career change but everyone says I am crazy to try to do it during an economically difficult time. (I have to go to school for a couple of years to do this.) I had some momentum but now I'm starting to get stuck in fear -- what if it doesn't work? What if I can't get a job? Would I be better staying in my job now and being grateful for the pay I do get? I'm just wondering how people have made this kind of decision in the past? How do you know you're doing the right thing?

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You received some great information, and I wanted to ask you more about your hesitation specifically in regards to the "difficult economic times" that we are in/headed for.

Do you feel you can "weather the storm" with the worst-case scenarios, financially speaking, in order for you to return to school? Although it may be a difficult time for others, it may not be for you. Do you have enough money in both short-term and long-term savings to make you comfortable (and/or to cover your living expenses for 6-months or 8-months if the paycheck were to cease?). Can you still contribute to a retirement fund, health insurance and life insurance, so that you are able to get through the difficult economic time (and not add on potential new financial stress, if you did not have these basics)?

Just some more food for thought!

January 8, 2009 - 3:35pm

Change is good but for the right reasons. What is the reason you want this career change? More money? More prestige? New learning?

It is not uncommon as we get older to find other interests and deep-seeded desires (or passion) that manifest as we become wiser and more clear about our life's purpose. I think change is healthy as it allows you to re-invent yourself periodically. Change is also uncomfortable because it requires risk. But if you have done your homework, evaluated the pros and cons and visualized your goal, why not! If you will be OK financially during those two years, take advantage of this opportunity. It may only come once.

I have shifted gears many times in my professional career. Each experience has broaden my view of the world that surrounds me. I have also realized that these changes have converged many times. We came to this earth to enjoy the experience, anything that enhances that experience should be given a chance. If you believe in an "inner voice" I suggest spending time with YOU in a quiet place and search within for that voice. You will hear the answers.

By the way, I am also shifting careers, again. I am going for my PhD in Naturopathy...After hesitating for a few months, I realized that all the signs were there but I was ignoring them due to fear and feeling guilty for getting busy with school work. But I am doing it even if it takes me 5 years! Best of luck with your decision.

January 8, 2009 - 2:45am

Hi, Patti:

You won't know until you've made the change whether or not it was the right one. Even then, you may not be 100% sure.

Yes, I've made a significant career change, and will be again in the near future. I used to be an Investment Banker and Trader with a Wall Street firm, and traded that in (no pun intended) for a combination of technically challenging and creative career in the Web development arena. It took a few years to go from hand coding to becoming a Web Strategist in demand, but it was worthwhile and I make a really good income doing something fun. I do have another change on the horizon, but a few years away, yet.

A few questions you need to ask yourself:

What's your passion?

What do you do exceptionally well that you also enjoy doing, and would enjoy doing for a living?

Can you handle making less if what you do makes you happy?

January 7, 2009 - 6:10pm
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This is a really difficult decision to make. Many of us have been in this position and any way you cut it, it's frightening.

Being in school for your career change is excellent; you'll never go wrong with education. In addition, look into the following:

Do you have experience, as well as the education?
Is your career choice one that is hiring right now?
How competitive is the job market for your particular field?
Do you have a back-up plan, if it doesn't work out?

As many of us transition from school to the workplace, from raising kids and re-entering the job market after a prolonged absence, and to getting older and seeing younger competitors, each decade of our working lives has it's benefits and challenges. Make sure what you have, is what employers want. And the challenges will turn into benefits. Staying current is crucial so congrats on your study.

One more thing: if you are married with a working spouse and no kids, you have more room to take chances. If you are single, be more wary and if you have children, be very careful! Your personal circumstances will (and probably should) dictate your options.

Good luck!

January 7, 2009 - 2:53pm
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