Changing your career is an exciting and challenging time in your life. Embrace the new opportunities ahead of you while you manage the financial and psychological experiences that accompany the switch.
Financial Aspects of a Career Transition
1. Save up. Build a nest egg to see you through your transition. Estimate how much your income may be reduced and for how long. Add in a little extra buffer to be safe.
2. Move to a cheaper place. Housing is the biggest living expense for many people. If your circumstances permit, consider moving to someplace less expensive.
3. Eat in more. Eating out is a relatively easy budget item to cut. Learn new recipes that will provide you with ongoing variety for dining at home.
4. Seek out free entertainment. Everyone needs some play time. Get a library card. Volunteer as an usher at your community theater so you can see plays without buying a ticket.
5. Hold onto your day job. You may be able to continue your current employment until you’re ready to move on. If you plan to go back to school, talk with the continuing education office on campus about flexible schedules for working students.
6. Earn supplemental income. Extra income you can make on a flexible schedule is always nice. Consider freelance work or marketing your handicrafts.
7. Sell your old stuff. You probably have things around the house that could bring in some cash. Visit a neighborhood consignment shop. Organize a garage sale or list your items on eBay.
8. Be conservative about income projections. You may need to take a junior position when you’re starting out in a new industry. Let it be a pleasant surprise if you successfully negotiate for a higher salary.
Psychological Aspects of a Career Transition
1. Do your research. Knowledge is reassuring. Find out everything you can about the occupation that interests you. Read the leading industry publications. Talk with people who have relevant experience.
2. Enlist support. Ask your loved ones for help. Your spouse and children may be able to take on more household responsibilities. Another parent at your child’s school may welcome the opportunity to car pool.
3. Make a backup plan. Congratulate yourself on daring to dream regardless of how things turn out. Meanwhile, make sure to have contingency plans ready in case it takes longer than expected to break into a new line of work.
4. Join a job club. Job clubs are flourishing everywhere. Sharing mutual advice and encouragement with other job seekers and career switchers will lift your spirits. You may even find valuable leads.
5. Manage stress. Arm yourself with relaxation techniques that work for you. Meditate on a daily basis or listen to classical music. Engage in a physical activity each day. Pick something you enjoy like yoga or long distance running.
6. Volunteer in your new field. Volunteer positions are a great way to make new contacts and broaden your experience. Whatever your chosen field, there will be a nonprofit that needs your services. You’ll benefit from real life learning and gain confidence in your newly acquired skills.
7. Make one big change at a time. Even positive changes tend to make us feel a little unsettled. As much as possible, postpone other significant events until your career transition is well underway. If you just had a baby, for example, you might want to wait a year until you take on another adventure.
A career transition is a smart way to keep up with a changing economy and find work that is meaningful for you. Plan ahead and take things gradually so you’ll feel confident about your new path.