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Today’s a hot topic – are you in the wrong career and thinking of a career change? Many of us are!
I’m a blogger now, but blogs didn’t even exist when I was leaving school and deciding what to do with my life. I was 17 years old and apparently should have had it all figured out. I thought I did – I really wanted to be a teacher or a social worker. But my parents said no.
We weren’t coming to any resolution and the deadline for filling in that enrollment form to study was looming. So, my dad put me in the car one day and took me to see an elderly gentleman behind a desk at the local university, for some ‘professional career advice’.
Getting advice from the university
I remember the man’s office being quite small, yet full of more books than I’d ever seen in one room before. He had a light brown mustache and waved his arms a lot as he spoke. This man was very excited to help me find something to do with my life (other than teaching or social work).
I’m not sure how long I sat in that book-filled room, but I do remember very clearly how my big life choice was made. The mustached man asked me what I liked to do. I said I enjoyed writing. His arms waved bigger and more excited than ever as he proudly suggested I study journalism.
Well, the excitement was contagious. I was getting ready to run home to fill in that enrollment form with journalism as my special chosen future.
He then became rather serious and broke the news to me that it was such a pity that the university didn’t offer journalism (and studying away from home at another institution wasn’t an option for me). I picture him twisting the ends of his mustache between his fingers at this point while trying to solve the problem, though I can’t be sure this actually happened as his mustache seems to get longer every time I remember this eventful day.
Anyway, I did what the man called ‘the next best thing’ – I studied publishing.
Getting more advice from the university
After three years of attending classes and completing all of my assignments, I remember standing in another office of another university employee. This time it was a woman’s office and she was one of my lecturers. I don’t remember her name or many books in there, but I do remember it being quite a dull overcast day.
I had to come clean at this point so I told her I was done with my degree but I had no idea what publishing graduates do, like for money. I had to ask her what type of job advert I should be looking for.
Well, she asked me the same question as excited wavy-arm man before – what do I like to do?
I said I enjoyed correcting my mom’s spelling in her grocery lists. Based on that precious little nugget of information, this lady had it all figured out. She knew that I was born to be a proof reader! I had to look for those sorts of job adverts.
At this point I was 20 years old and just happy to have a name for what I was going to be doing for a career. I thanked her and off I went into the world.
Working in the real world
I ended up working in offices for the next ten years. No publishing houses, mind you, as there were far too many graduates competing for jobs with low salaries in places very far from what I called home. I really tried the corporate thing, only to discover that I was a round peg trying to push myself into a square hole.
No matter how hard I pushed and forced myself, I just wouldn’t fit. It was time to come clean again. This time with myself.
The truth is, I was terribly frustrated and bored in an office. I also couldn’t buy into that culture and all those rules. I’m far too much of a free spirit for that.
I seriously wanted to change my career at this point. A complete overhaul was needed.
Others had far more exciting careers
I had friends who did exciting and interesting things, like riding horses all day or making sculptures or planning towns. Those sounded way more exciting to me than sitting behind a screen or in meetings all day.
I didn’t want to ride horses or sculpt stuff myself, but they opened my eyes to see that there was another world out there for me, where a round peg might fit.
I finally left the office to start freelancing. I clearly remember handing in my notice at work. I stood at my manager’s door in my high heels, holding that carefully crafted letter in my sweaty palms. She looked up at me and I told her I had something for her. She simply asked me to put it down on her desk, as she’d been waiting for it.
We never said that dirty word ‘resignation’. We never talked about what I was going to do after leaving the corporate field. I just did my 30 days’ notice and left with a Parker pen as a gift, which I thought was sweet.
Finding my way
Now I could fix spelling mistakes from my home office. It worked much better as I liked the flexibility of freelancing and the chance to be an entrepreneur, not knowing if or when my next pay check would come in. I’m weird like that. I find it rather motivating.
I studied a lot of things and traveled. People didn’t understand why I was always up to something new instead of fitting into the square hole, but I kept saying, ‘One day, somehow, all of this will come together. I’m just not sure how yet.’
I scoured the internet, read blogs and joined groups. After trying a few online businesses and losing interest because I’d found the next shiny thing to try, I knew what I really wanted to do, like long-term do – I wanted to become a blogger.
The penny had dropped! Somehow all the work experience, courses and passions I had were coming together.
I could now wave my arms around and twist my imaginary mustache because I finally knew what I liked to do.
I signed up for a blogging course, which wasn’t location bound or time bound. I’ve been following the steps. It’s been tough and scary and exciting. And I feel alive again!
The truth is we don’t always know what we want to do and our needs change
The truth is that most of us don’t know what we want to do when we leave school. We are still naive about the world and have so much to discover in it and in ourselves. Some of us don’t even know what we want to do after leaving university or much later in life.
So, did you choose the wrong career? Are you stuck, bored, or frustrated with where you are now? If you’ve read this far then I’m guessing that you are.
Being unhappy at work is EXACTLY what you need
Welcome. This is a good place. Hear me out…
If you are comfortable enough (but not necessarily happy or ecstatic) with going to your office everyday, you wouldn’t do anything to change things, would you?
You’d go in day after day for years, acting like a zombie and just doing what needed to be done. Your life would slip away.
But you know you’re in the wrong career. You know there’s more out there. You know this isn’t what you really truly want to do.
You had the choice once, and now you have the choice again. You are not stuck. You are just one decision away from making a change.
It’s never too late to do this.
Where to start finding a new path
Use the ‘wrong career’ to learn about yourself and to get inspired to change your life.
Draw a line down the middle of a piece of paper. In the left column write down all the things you dislike about your current job/position. In the right column write down all the things you like to do.
Number the top 3 points you dislike most and the top 3 things you enjoy most. Now try to find a way to avoid the things you dislike most and move towards the things you love, all while making an income.
So, if you hate meetings and high heels but you love being out in the sunshine, start a coffee shop by the beach or get a job in an exotic hotel.
Update your resume. You can get a professional, one page resume template HERE – it’s what my recruiter friend calls ‘The best resume I’ve ever seen’.
You can start looking for jobs you might be interested in or start applying for the one you know you want here:
You may find you don't even need to study for long or at all to make the move.
There are free courses, paid courses, distance learning options, forums, groups, eBooks, blogs, you name it, where you can find out what’s out there and learn what you need to know. There are no limits. Craft a plan and find out how to achieve your goals.
You can try new things. Start new things. Fail forward.
You can grow as a person. And you can grow into a completely different career at any age and from anywhere in the world. Welcome to the age of opportunity.
How lucky are we?