I certainly don’t have all the answers yet I’m afraid, but I can tell you that you are not alone.
The Institute of Leadership and Management recently carried out a poll of 1000 employees. 19% expected to change jobs this year and of this 39% would like to change career and try something new. Almost exactly one year ago I had started to come to the same decision. Like anyone I had sometimes thought about changing jobs before, but this feeling was different. I knew it was time for a complete change.
These are my first 3 steps for planning career change. You can take these steps now and it will help you start to feel it is at least possible.
1.Money, Money, Money!
The most important thing to sort out if you are going to sleep at night!
The idea is to build a savings ‘cushion’ over the next few months that you will buy you some time. Put together a detailed budget to work out exactly what money you spend every month. Now be brutal and try to imagine losing your job tomorrow, what would you stop spending, what is non-essential? Maybe you have an underused gym membership that you could easily stop, or you decide you can live without cable TV. In my case the easiest thing to stop was my gym membership and pension savings. Whilst pension savings are undoubtedly important for the long term, right now you are looking for ways to give yourself 6 months of financial freedom to explore other opportunities. It is a temporary ‘retirement’, so think about stopping or reducing your pension contributions (but check that your provider will not penalise you for doing so). You will work again, this is not for ever. I don’t need my gym membership – I now walk everywhere!
Start looking in to voluntary redundancy options at work which can help enormously if you are planning to leave your industry altogether. Look at childcare costs, how much are you spending just to go to work, can you reduce these costs or eliminate them altogether if you are having a career break.
Do a spring-clean of all utility bills, Uswitch is very easy to use and you can easily switch your gas, electricity, phone, broadband etc and lower your monthly outgoings. Call your providers and ask if there is anyway you can reduce your costs (tell them that you have been warned you might lose your job). Call your mobile phone company and ask for a cheaper package (all 4 members of my family with mobile phones are now paying just £5 per month for a bundle that was costing £12 per month a year ago, saving us £336 per year on mobile phone bills alone). Don’t wait to do this, it will take time to set aside the extra money that you need for your career change, so start saving now.
2. Start ‘The List’
Keep it in your pocket, on your PC or nearby at all times and start to write down anything new and interesting that you see, things you know you like doing, anything that gives you pleasure. Keep a note of how it makes you feel. Think about things you have done in the past, and dreams you had as a child and teenager. Who inspires you, what do they do? Do you wish for more flexibility, more time with family, or time to study? Start to build a picture of who you are inside. Don’t rule anything out. This is not a practical exercise, it’s an exercise in dreaming and taking the first step to making your dreams a reality.
3. Join Careershifters
When you are stuck in the daily grind it is hard to find time to think about what you will do next. In my case, I was so miserable that my creativity and imagination were non-existent. I couldn’t even find the words to describe what I would like to do. Take one small step and sign up for a Careershifters workshop examining ‘How to Find the Work you Love’. These are only currently held in London, so If that’s a struggle, then at least register with their site (which is free) and start reading some career-change stories and using some of their free tools. The important thing here is to know that you are not alone and to open your mind to the fact this just might be possible. If you take part in one of the workshops you will be in a group of about 30 people, all very different, but all looking for career-change. All ages and backgrounds. You are unlikely to walk away from the workshop with a clear plan, but you will identify the next step for you, and you will have found a way to describe the work that you want and to stop trying to shoehorn yourself into jobs where you just don’t fit.