Updated: Nov 17, 2022
Almost half of people in the UK want to change their career. At least, that’s what the London School of Business and Finance found when they asked people. And in London it’s even more, with 55% (and 45% in the next two years).
Half! Forty-seven percent of people!
And why do you want to change career? Because of increased salary prospects, better work-life balance and more job satisfaction. With an emphasis on a better work-life balance the older you get.
The report found a number of reasons why you don’t start making a change to your career.
I want to give you a different perspective. So that you can get started on your career change. Despite your reasons.
1. I simply like my current job
You simply like your current job. Now, isn’t that a surprising finding?
Until you realise that a ‘job’ and a ‘career’ are two different things:
Your career: An occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.
Your job: The day-to-day job you do, the work, the environment, the colleagues, the pay check, the benefits.
You start to realise that - whilst you might have great colleagues, or the pay is not bad, or you happen to have become quite good at the work (in other words: your job) - that it is your career that is not meaningful to you.
Think about it.
If you do something for long enough you might be really good at it. Or the conditions of your job might be good (enough). The pay is OK. Your colleagues are nice. You’re comfortable money-wise. Changing your career might become a daunting prospect. A stroll too far outside your comfort zone.
Is that a reason to stay in your job?
And yes. For now.
Whilst you’re still comfortable in your job, you might want to start thinking about your career now. And make your next steps when you're ready.
2. Lack of financial security
You’re worried about financial security. Understandable. You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’re reluctant to give that up for an insecure future.
But who says you have to?
If you scrape the surface you might find that your need for financial security is made up of a number of beliefs about money:
Your belief: You need a permanent job and the job security that goes with it.
The challenge: Job security is a thing of the past. A permanent job is as permanent as your employment contract tells you it is. One month? Three months notice?
Your belief: You need a certain amount of money to live on.
The challenge: Yes, as you’ve gone through your career you’ve acquired a certain lifestyle. But I bet that - if you look closely at what you spend a month - you can streamline and reduce a lot of your daily costs. Daily coffee? Breakfast on the go? Subscriptions to a gym you never visit? Do you still need to live in that big house? Or can you reduce your living costs?
Alternatively you can look at increasing your income. Is going freelance a possibility? Can you start a side project (read your contract first!).
Your belief: Every change in career is automatically going to mean a drop in income.
The challenge: Is it? How do you know? Or rather, how do you know, even before you know what you want to do? You might find that your new career has all the financial prospects that you’re after!
In other words, you might have beliefs that are not true. Or worse, that aren’t even yours! You might find that a lot of your beliefs around money have been instilled in you from an early age. That doesn't mean you should hold on to them!
And for those of you who are truly risk-averse: how about starting an ‘escape fund’? Now.
If you are truly worried about money you could do worse than start saving now, so that you can change your career with a financial cushion!
3. You don’t know what you want to do
And you won’t if you stay where you are and do nothing! No big revelation will come down from the sky and reveal itself to you. Your career change starts when you make the commitment to make the change. It starts with finding out what it is that you want to do.
And quite frankly, it is one of the most exhilarating, scary and exciting parts of the career change journey.
This is where you get to find out about yourself. Your skills, talents, strengths, interests, causes and personality. What makes you happy, what are the ‘must haves’, your vision for your working life.
By waiting for ‘the big reveal’ you’re doomed to fail (and missing out on a profound life-changing experience).
For you to make changes to your career you need to take action.
Even if that means that you are entering an uncertain time where you are going to explore what your ideal career and working life looks like.
Even if that means that you're stepping outside your comfort zone.
Even if that means that you don't know where you're going to end up. Yet.
4. You’re worried about the time investment required
In other words: you don’t have time.
The author Julia Cameron says: Do you know how old I am by the time I learn to play the piano? Answer: Just as old as when you don’t.
In other words, no time like the present.
And starting to make time for career change ‘tasks’ won’t bring your entire life to a halt either!
In fact, I’d argue that you could start with just 20 minutes a day. Twenty minutes to make little mini-steps towards changing your career. Twenty minutes to complete small tasks that will help you move on.
And your first ‘task’? To find these 20 minutes in your day:
Get up 20 minutes earlier
Get rid of activities that are taking up your time (social media, TV)
Use your commuting time
Schedule time in your calendar
Time? You might have more than you think.
5. Fear of failure
Fifteen percent of people do not change their career because of fear of failure.
You're afraid that you're jumping from the frying pan into the fire. So you just stay in the frying pan!
You might believe that you are stuck in this one job, because you’ve done it for such a long time.
Or you might believe that you only have one chance to get this career change ‘thing’ right.
And of course none of that is true.
You have built up a set of skills, experience and knowledge that you can take anywhere. And what you don't know now you can learn!
And after you have found out what you want to do (see above under 3.), there still are multiple possibilities. And ways of doing what you love. And none of them are wrong!
But to be more sure you can test your options. Go and talk to people. Try someone's job out for a day, or a week. Start a side project.
And then choose. And make it happen. Nothing is ever risk-free. But stuck? No, you're not.
6. You don’t know how to do it
You don’t know how to change your career.
Well, you're not alone!
Yes, of course, during your career you will have made multiple moves. Upwards, sideways, different industries, different jobs.
But never by really looking inside yourself. Never by really getting to know yourself and know what you want, what you need, what you are good at, how you want to make a difference.
You will never really be ready to make a career change.
Acknowledging this and finding the support of a coach, who has done this before, and who can help you get started with changing your career will help you start making these changes. Even if you think you're not ready.
Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.
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