Why Changing Careers Is Hard

Why Changing Careers Is Hard

Changing careers for me was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make and it was a life altering experience. I'm not selling you anything, but I'm going to take something from you...stop checking for your wallet it's still there...I'm talking about an illusion. In the western world we are brought up believing that we are bound to a structure, qualifications, experience, a certain personality or a career we start. I think this is funny, we believe these things because we are conditioned to, because as humans we like categorising and labelling things so we can describe them. If I told you to imagine a certain thing then you have a predefined perception of what that is and how it would look, pretty cool right...squirrel! See what I mean...you just saw an imaginary squirrel or thought of the movie "Up!"...see it's funny. For many of us, the thought of changing careers is as difficult as climbing a mountain for the first time and I'm here to tell you it doesn't have to be that much of an obstacle.

What does that have to do with having a career change? Well this is where we get to make you do more fun stuff...don't worry you won't be acting like a chicken cause that's hypnosis and text can't do that to you...or can it? When I was younger my mother jokingly suggested that I might have to pursue a career as a garbage man as my grades were slipping and she knew that I was smart enough to actually do better. Nothing wrong with following a career in waste disposal mind you, but I was definitely interested in doing other things with my life. I ended up working harder after several more suggestions about working in waste disposal and in the end, I worked as an Electrical / Control Systems Engineer which was a pretty cool occupation. I decided that this was the career I wanted to follow and that is what I did but an interesting fact for you...I didn't have an Engineering Degree, I had other qualifications suitable for the role instead. There is a perception that by doing a specific qualification that you are better suited to a role but in effect a degree would only educate someone about concepts and principles and not how to actually do the job itself. You see the electrical engineering field is very diverse and four (4) years of university cannot possibly teach you all there is to know, doing a degree is simply determining your aptitude for that job against other people in the university at that time. Essentially one year I could fail miserably and the next I could be the shining star depending on the aptitude of the other people in my class. For more than ten (10) years I worked in this type of role across a number of employers and then quite suddenly I decided to change my career. My reasons for changing don't matter too much as they are really only interesting to me but it was very very difficult. I want to share with you why it was so difficult though...

Right now, you have an occupation built on experience, qualifications or both that has cost you time and effort. When you describe who you are to someone most people will describe what they do for a living...ironically this isn't who you are at all...it is just your occupation. Let's say that you are a manager of some sorts, this instils authority in your workplace and by stating what you do for a living you likely feel more powerful, maybe more confident or respected etc. This isn't real, you have created for yourself an identity that you associate with and you feel will influence the perceptions of other people. This is the reason why people are inclined to use their jobs to impress other people or hide their occupation as they feel ashamed. Honestly, your job provides you with income to live your life and at the end of the day you are the same person. Do you suddenly cease to exist simply because you lose your job? No, you just become a person who is unemployed. Our society does place alot of value on being employed and the status of that employment as it conveys that you contribute to society. Ultimately, you as a person needs to be happy and we often link our happiness and self-worth to our employment...this has alot to do with why making career changes is hard for many of us.

What is funny...haha...is that for alot of us, making a career change doesn't become a choice but is thrust upon us...it's amusing because we often think we have control. I often see books being sold with titles like "How To Become A CEO" which is ridiculous because the reality is that promotions are generally based on three factors, whether you are liked, luck and timing. People will argue differently but based on my experience, a business typically doesn't create a position for someone to be promoted into unless a business is restructuring or people leave unless there is some higher motivation usually linked to making alot of money. These takes all three of those factors to happen and you have no real control over luck. So, for everyone else we simply go about our business doing a job and no matter who you are the only part you can control is you and your decisions. It is for many people like ending a relationship, sometimes it is ended for you, other times it happens quickly and other times we draw it out which can be sad to watch. This is the key piece of information you need to know about changing careers, we often tell ourselves we can't do things but I have seen many people make career changes, sometimes they are big, sometimes small, sometimes you wonder what they were thinking but in the end, it happens. I'm not saying that you can suddenly change to being an engineer from being a florist overnight but I am saying that if you want something enough you can make it happen. I mean, look at me, I was on the fast track to waste disposal and now I am often used as an example in my family as someone who has shown that you can achieve what you put your mind to, if I can do it then other people can do it...which is kind of insulting but in the end, it is true.

I started to write a book on how to become a CEO too but I didn't think it would sell well if all it said was "Start A Company Yourself And Appoint Yourself As CEO"... That's right, to go and work in certain jobs for companies you need to have a certain amount of experience or qualifications but to own a business you yourself can do that regardless of your qualifications. This means that businesses and companies create an expectation that you have a qualification or experience which ironically is just something they spend alot of time pretending isn't just guessing what is really required. If job titles, qualifications and experience were standardised you wouldn't need long winded job adverts with anything more than a job title but it would also mean that career changes would be infinitely more difficult. Even more interesting is that the only jobs that have minimum requirements are awards and jobs that require licenses issued through government or industry bodies. Do you need a qualification before you start a specified job that doesn't require a license? No, you can start training when you are employed but employers have started doing this less as they see it as a risk if someone leaves after paying for the training or by having someone inexperienced doing a job. This is really odd as employers often pay you less when you don't have the qualification and likely makes up the difference. Also an inexperienced person doesn't mean the person isn't capable as if they have a good work ethic they are likely to be able to bridge the gap.

So ultimately career changes are hard for very simple reasons...fear and preconceptions. We fear taking a leap of faith as we don't know if the outcome will be better. Fear is there when we have a choice or not and the only advice is this, only you know what is right for you and only you can choose to make a change. It can be painful to give up something you love doing for a living but when the motivation strikes even that can't stop you. I'm working at ActsIntuitively because it is right for me, I love my job, I am happy with my choice because it was my choice and now I'm here to help you too. If you are interested in finding out more about what we can do for you then please feel free to visit our main website or contact us. Thank you for your time, for reading our blog post and it would be great if you feel the need to share or like our articles via one of our social media platforms with the @ActsIntuitively tag as applies.

Brent Webster
Technical Services Manager

Bunbury, Western Australia

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Outbound Links:

  1. How To Change Career When You Have No Idea What You're Doing

  2. 5 Ways To Tell If You Need A Career Change

  3. Six Tips On How To Make A Successful Career Change

  4. Changing Careers Midlife - People Share Their Success Stories