Career Change: You won’t Change for Love or Money?
As I was growing up, the term “for Love or Money” was often used after a statement about doing something. It was a way of saying the two most important things in the world are still not big enough, powerful enough or important enough to move or sway a person to do something. When it comes to improving your job or career, clearly we’re not changing for love or money, because 60% of us hate our job and are simply not doing anything about it. Yet, love and money can be significantly improved, if we were to make that step. What’s holding us back?
I have my theories and I’ve done some internet surfing to try to see what data has been collected on this topic. So far, it appears to boil down to three things:
1. We’re afraid of how a career change might negatively impact our income.
2. We’re afraid to change.
3. We’re confused about how to make that big decision.
In an attempt to convince you to take action, I’d like to take a stab at how to address these issues.
Issues and Solutions
Issue: We are afraid that our income will go down and we won’t be able to afford our lifestyle.
Without doing the work to understand what career you might pursue, you are only guessing this might be an issue. There are literally hundreds of thousands of careers all with varying levels of salaries. Do the work to find out what career you might want and the salary that goes with it. As you are pursuing the work, define what you think you need for salary on both a short and long term basis. Sometimes you will have to start at a lower salary, but if the upward potential is there, it might only be a short term issue to manage.
Just because you are starting a new career, it’s not an automatic conclusion that you will start at a lower salary. If you haven’t done the work, you simply don’t know.
Assuming you face a lower salary, you need to plan for the salary dip. When I left education to go into the business setting, I had no idea what kind of salary I would get or how long it would take to get there. As a result, I took a year to pay off all my bills and stash away a reserve to live on. When I took the plunge, I lived with a friend for a few months, which further reduced my overhead. I was then free to find a career that would interest me, rather than just find something that was at a salary level I was used to. It was the best decision I made. I took a 2-year salary reduction, but in the long run that decision paid off hugely.
Once you have done the work to find the career you can be passionate about, consider a test. If you are working, pay off your bills and start living on the salary level you think you might get. Get the program worked out in advance of making the plunge.
Issue: We are more afraid of change than we’d like to admit. It seems we all have a different temperament for making change. Some people are drawn to it and others avoid it.
Change has an emotional component to it known as transition. It’s uncomfortable, because we are in the midst of changing our behavior and the things we have become familiar with. Even bad things, like a bad job, are familiar and somewhat predictable. But just like getting a boo-boo on your knee, it will only feel uncomfortable for a limited amount of time. You have to position yourself to know that with a change that will bring you great job satisfaction, also comes some level of passing discomfort. You simply need to know it will pass.
Prepare for the change and transition by deliberately working on and putting a voice to your concerns. Once you have them identified, write them down and problem solve. This process puts your brain into a new, less emotional gear called logic. Logic isn’t emotional and it acts just like a fire hose. It will lessen the anxiety you feel and it will give you some tasks to perform that will absolutely be helpful.
Study change and transition. There are some books on the subject that can help tremendously.
Issue: Unfortunately, we don’t have much to go on when it comes to figuring out a new career. The most tried and true method is: “I’ll find some work”. Most of us end up in our careers by default, but increasingly there are resources to help figure it out. There is a difference between job search and career change. The first you get a job, the latter, you make a decision.
There are books, online resources and career coaches who have this figured out. Go in search and you will find.
If you don’t take action, you will never find anything. It’s remarkable the number of times I hear people say they don’t know what they’d do, but they have done virtually nothing to answer the question.
The best career decision is one founded on self-discovery, exploration and experimentation. You have to look at this decision as one that requires you to discover more about yourself, perhaps at a level you’ve never done before. Get on the internet, do some research, talk to people you know about their work. In other words, get interested in this world of careers and suddenly you’ll discover all kinds of fun, exciting careers.
If you are unhappy in your job or career, you can’t assume it will magically improve. We often hang on much longer than we need to. When you are unhappy in your career, you actually run the risk of limiting your income. Studies have found the happier we are, the better our income is. Being unhappy also brings with it stress and the resulting health impact, as well as impact to our relationships. It is truly a matter of love and money.