A woman I know was a lawyer for 22 years. She practiced at a prominent law firm in her community, made excellent money, and seemed to be content with life. Yet, last year she gave all of that up when she quit her job to pursue her lifelong dream of owning a restaurant.
She is currently in culinary school and works part-time at a local restaurant. Although her income today isn’t even one-third of what she earned practicing law, she is quite happy and hopes to become successful in her new career.
Perhaps some would call this a mid-life crisis? I simply see it as a career change.
Most people will have two or more careers (not just jobs) in their lives. For many, like the woman above, this means radically new fields, but for others it is a small shift in the same general field. No matter what kind of career you plan on pursuing as your second, there are things to take into consideration first. Jumping from one steady career into another is often a risky move and not one to be done lightly. Yet, with a few simple pointers in mind, it shouldn’t be too hard to go from being a professional in one area to a professional in another.
Decide what it is you want to do. This seems obvious, but for many the general malaise that comes with the itch to quit is accompanied by genuine wonder as to what exactly they want to do now. If you don’t know what it is you want to do, keep your job where you are and start researching things that interest you. Find your talents. Take classes at community colleges to see if you have proficiency for something that you have an interest in. If you do, then that is where you need to focus yourself. Don’t jump into your new career without knowing exactly what it is you want to accomplish first.
Save money. Going from whatever level you are now in your current career to square one in a new one is likely to cause some financial stress. Make sure you are prepared for this in the way of savings. Have enough on hand to pay the bills for six months to a year if needed so you can begin working and not worry about if you are making your former salary or not. If your new career is to start a business, make sure you know what the profit expectations are before diving in and save the difference between the lowest possible profit and where your bills are.
Start networking early. The beauty of social media is that networking possibilities are endless. By making sure you get to know industry professionals in the career you wish to move to, you are surrounding yourself with people who can help you when you need it. Even if it’s something as simple as friend requesting a local chef if you are moving into the restaurant business, being able to ask someone questions about the business without it seeming like one of you is applying for a job is invaluable. Have business cards made up and leave them at businesses in your field, let people know you exist and are ready to begin. This will mark you as a professional even if you have limited or no experience.
Making the transition from one career to the next is often perilous, but worthwhile. Many people who have had two careers only had their first so they could have their second, so make sure you are jumping into something you really want to do. Building relationships and respect takes time, and you may only get one shot at switching careers. Make sure you are prepared and ready for the challenges it presents.