Changing careers can be tough, stressful and challenging at times, but if you are doing something you're passionate about or taking a step that will further your career and life goals, it can be the most rewarding experience of your life. Change is hard, even for the best of us, and denying that will only be setting yourself up for some severe disappointment and possibly even failure.
They key to making a successful career change is going into it with your eyes open. When I decided to leave the corporate world and start a career as a freelance writer, I didn't do enough planning and quickly learned the value of being prepared. In my defense, at that point in my life, I was out of work and really struggling to find a way to make ends meet. For me, the opportunity came at just the right time. I didn't have much to lose and anything was better than nothing. At first, writing was a part-time thing that would help me pay my bills while I kept looking for a job. What ended up happening is that I took a long, hard look at my goals and developed a strategy that would get me to the place I wanted to be.
If you're planning to take a leap and change careers, here are a few things you should know and plan for ahead of time in order to make the change easier:
You'll probably be poor for a while - This can be one of the most difficult part of making a change. You'll have to accept that you will be poor for a while and even when you begin to make money, there will be times when you will be poor again. You have to commit to having an emergency savings account and limit your spending. Your lifestyle will have to change and there will be times when you will have to live without things that you used to think were essential. You'll get through it and in the process, you'll have a greater understanding of what is most important. It was a tough lesson for me to learn, but in the end, I found out that all of our toys and luxuries keep us trapped and isolated from the things that matter the most.
You'll have to ask for help - You can't get through this alone. There will be times when you will have to ask for help from your friends, your family and even your creditors. No one is an island and asking for help isn't shameful. You'd be surprised at how many people will be more than happy to give you a hand and even bring new things into your life. Networking isn't just for power players and executives. Network in your community and understand that every single person you meet has something they can offer - even if it's just helpful advice. Don't discount anyone and before long, you'll have a large support network and even a more rewarding life.
You can't slack off - There were many times at work in the corporate world when I would slack off and just try to kill time until 5. When you are working for yourself or trying to make a new career happen, you just don't have that luxury. You aren't getting paid or making progress unless you are getting things done. It's a hard reality check and one that made me value a finished task more than the hours spent working toward it.
You have to have a financial plan - Before making a change, you have to have a clear idea of how much money you need in order to get through the month. You can't live in denial about this or be overly optimistic about your spending habits. Come up with a strategy and a budget and stick with it. If you know what your goal is, you have a much higher chance of reaching it.
You'll be rewarded more than you could imagine - Changing careers and chasing your dreams is scary. It's hard work and takes sacrifice. Along the way, you'll begin to see changes in yourself and the way that you see the world. Doing what you love adds so much more to your life and gives you a healthy appreciation for the things that matter the most. It's a roller coaster ride, but it's worth it.