Is Doing a Career U-turn the Answer?

**collaborative post**

Our personal growth and the growth of our career are never as linear as we think. When we leave formal education, often with little experience of the working world, it’s easy to see that the decisions we make regarding the job we want to go into may be quite limited by our own understanding of the world. Years ago, it was the done thing to stick to the same job until retirement, but the dynamic working world of today offers much more in the way of lane changes, detours, and even complete u-turns – as long as you realise that you’re in the driving seat.

In life, we develop new passions, are transformed by new experiences and crave new challenges. As part of this, it’s very natural to change our minds about what will fulfill us when it comes to our jobs. We are paralysed by the fear of making a mistake, when in fact, there are no mistakes, apart from spending our lives doing something that we don’t find fulfilling.

Identify Your Values

Quite often, we may recognise that our current occupation is not the right one. It’s not that there won’t be trying or even boring days, even in a job that you love, but feeling constantly lacklustre and without inspiration isn’t right either. The trouble is, you may not have any idea what will make you happy! In this situation, it’s a good idea to identify your ‘why’ – the values that motivate you and are important to your wellbeing. What they are is highly personal. Some people are naturally more motivated by money, some want to help others, and some need to be creatively fulfilled. Think about what makes you happy, and where you reach your flow state – that mood of quiet absorption in a task and satisfaction with what you are doing. This will tell you a lot about what transferable skills you have that could translate into a new career. Or perhaps you have a hobby you adore which may translate into a new business venture. Even finding a company whose corporate values mirror your own can make for career harmony in a way that you may not currently be experiencing.

Never Stop Learning

If our jobs don’t afford us the chance to develop, it’s easy to get frustrated and feel stifled. Continuous professional development is vital in helping us to appreciate our roles, gain new skills and move forward. If your workplace is not very forthcoming when it comes to training plans, don’t be afraid to create and propose your own. There are so many ways that you can keep on learning – from requesting new projects or shadowing colleagues in different areas, to signing yourself up for webinar and even in-person training events. You may also decide that formal training and further qualifications are a route you need to go down. There are many options here, and they don’t all have to involve leaving your current job. You could complete a distance learning education masters or finally sign up for that MBA in a virtual environment or part-time with evening classes. There are lots of ways to achieve what you need to when you really set your mind to it.

Using Your Hobby

If you have hobbies and interests outside of your job, it may be possible to make them pay and eventually turn them into your full-time occupation. Transitioning from hobbyist to professional can be more complicated than you think, so consider your options carefully. Map out a realistic business plan with time frame, noting any skills you will need to gain before launching as a business. Think about funding – what money will you need to set up, and buy stock or supplies? Will you run your business via a website, or do you need a physical location as well? What will your overheads be and how much will you need to charge for your product or service to break even or make a profit? A lot of small businesses can take a few years to be truly profitable, so consider how you will manage financially during this period? What debt do you have? Are you able to survive on a partner’s salary if they are willing, or do you have some savings? The key is to be realistic about how pursuing your passion may have a short term effect on your lifestyle and other plans. You could look into the possibility of reducing your hours within your current job to give you time to build up your business without losing all the security of a steady income and the other benefits of employment.

Assess Your Marketing Skills

Whether you’re planning to retrain, start up your own business or move into another career, you will need to develop your marketing skills. In each of these scenarios you are selling something, be it yourself and your skills or a product or service. The right tools and attitude will help you effectively sell to others. You may need to set up a website to showcase your work, or develop your social media channels to reach out and find an audience for what you do.

Do Your Research

Before making any drastic moves, it’s better to make sure that you’re one hundred per cent familiar with the facts. You need to be sure that you can make enough money at your new career to support yourself. This can either mean reassessing your personal budget and cutting costs so that you can afford to take a pay cut, or finding the fastest route to earn more in your chosen profession. There is likely to be some compromise involved in the situation but it’s far better to be realistic. Money may not be your main priority, but it’s not possible to operate without any regard for it. Consider the financial aspects of your future and take professional money advice or speak to family and friend who may be affected in order to better understand your options and the growth potential of your new plans.

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