Don’t let pursuing a new career wear you down.

Don't let pursuing a new career wear you down - photo of a view through trees high up on the mountainous coastline of a Mediterranean island looking out over the blue sea with small boats dotted about. The sun is shining.

In this recent blogpost I write about the 6 side effects of pursuing a new career, one of which is living in the present:

For most people, finding and then pursuing a new career takes months and more likely a few years. You may be able to decide on what you want to change your career to reasonably quickly but it’s making the change that can wear you down. The antidote to this is accepting it takes time and creating a plan that focuses on slow and sustainable change which allows for plenty of time to live in the now. This is definitely about enjoying the journey on the way to your destination. You then don’t resent your responsibilities and the demands on your time and energy because you have them all considered in your approach to implementing your new career. Relax and let your plan unfold.

Here, I want to delve deeper and share with you some practicalities to consider when drawing up a plan in support of a slow and sustainable career change. 

Let’s plan for the long game.

Identify your non-negotiables.

This helps you free up time, energy and money as you will need all 3 to implement your career change.

Ask yourself this question: what do you want to keep in your life as you work towards a career change?

Think about what’s important for your health and well-being and your relationships. What energises and motivates you? What helps you deal with all the ups and downs of life? What do you consider a treat? What relaxes you? What do you need to be the best version of you?

Jot down all your thoughts and review them.

Is there anything present that actually, on second thoughts, isn’t a non-negotiable?

Is there anything that you can let go of or that you need to add?

Now, prioritise them.

If you could only have 5 items, which would they be?

Try out different budgets.

Fearing the financial impact of a career change has come out top in the recent research I have undertaken with people feeling stuck in a career and it’s not surprising as taking time out to potentially study and then work your way up the new career ladder may well mean a change in income.

Before you even get to this stage, I encourage you to experiment with budgets for different scenarios:

  • Working part-time in the same field you work in now (if that’s possible).
  • Working part-time in a job that can just help pay the bills – it doesn’t tax your brain so leaves you with energy for studying etc.
  • If possible, not working and being supported by your partner/loved one.
  • Utilising a different source of income, such as renting a room out.

You can also play with variables in the budget – what could you stop paying for? Are there things you pay for each month where you might be able to get a better deal? If you shaved off a little from everything you spend in a month, what impact would that have?

Once you find a budget you think you can work with and importantly live on, try it out for a month and see if it’s feasible. Tweak it accordingly and if you can manage it, keep living on this budget and start putting away the money that you save ready for investing in your career change.

If you think you want to go down the part-time working route, explore it now and gather all the information you need so you are ready to make the switch. 

Uncover all the routes to your new career.

Don’t assume that you will have to study full time or gain years of experience before you can move into your new career.

Talk to people who are established in the field you want to work in and ask them how they would recommend you go about getting the credentials you need. Ask them to refer you to other people you can talk to – you never know where these connections might lead you and what you will uncover, including information about funding available to support studying, how to gain invaluable experience plus what you shouldn’t bother focussing your energy on and where you should! 

Think long-term.

As you build a picture of what’s required and how long it might take you to implement a new career, within the circumstances of your life, don’t be discouraged.

In 5 years from now you could be in the same place, feeling stuck, or you could be well on your way to progressing in your new career. 

In my opinion, it’s well worth doing the latter. 

You’ve likely got decades left on this earth, so you might as well spend a bit of time changing tack and start investing in something that will fulfill you rather than staying where you are, wondering and worrying.

As long as you plan for it to take time – months, or more likely years – you will be able to enjoy the journey. 

Work through your plan with your loved ones.

Your grand career change plan will go much better if you have the support of your loved ones.

I advocate for communicating your approach (this long-term strategy) and requesting feedback from these key players. Ask them what their non-negotiables are in supporting you and ask them what they think you need in your life in order to sustain yourself on the journey so you don’t turn into a grumpy and stressed out individual (feel free to insert other, more descriptive words here!).

Work on the plan together and review it regularly. This is an exciting new chapter in your life so don’t scupper it before you’ve started by not bringing the important people in your life on this journey with you.

And remember, for many people change is scary so make sure you allow for plenty of time to chew over your plan together, make amendments and test things out. This last part is key – it means nothing is set in stone and your loved ones get to try before they buy, making it easier to be part of the changes needed to support you pursuing your new career. 

Now, go forth, make a plan for the long game and watch your new career journey unfold!

Photo by Simon Nham on Unsplash.