These days, a career change is pretty much inevitable at some point in your life. My career path has been anything but linear. A Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics led into a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counselling. I went from being the director of an English as a Second Language program in New Brunswick to working as a therapist, then program manager in a family treatment program in Saskatchewan (with a few detours in between – like working as a therapist on a psychiatric unit, a year-long job as a crisis counsellor in Virginia, and a summer spent training local teachers in North Korea).
And know where I ended up? As a multi-hyphenate* entrepreneur with a private counselling practice, also working as an Instagram content creator and writing a lifestyle + wellness blog.
*A person with several professions and skills.
There is no possible way I could have predicted all of that five years ago (well, maybe the counselling practice part). It was one step at a time, one experience at a time, one role at a time, one passion at a time. And with each opportunity I pursued, I did it with everything I had. I was determined to be the very best wherever I went and to learn as much as humanly possible in every position. And through that experience, I began to discover what I was truly passionate about. And then I took baby steps to pursue those things (while still juggling the current position I was in). I dipped my toe in the water and tested it out.
My circumstance was a bit different than most as we needed to move for my husband’s job so leaving my position was necessary and a career change was inevitable. But leading up to that move, I began doing a lot of work to decide what would be next. We saved money, I worked with a business coach, I read books and listened to podcasts, and I shared my dreams with those closest to me.
So here is my advice if you find yourself succeeding at something that doesn’t light you up and you’re considering a career change.
- First of all, know that it is okay. You are allowed to step away from a job you’re killing if you know in your gut that it isn’t where you should be.
- Spend time reflecting on the things that get you excited – journal about it, write down the things you find yourself day-dreaming about, make a list of what you would do if knew for certain that you would not fail, ask your friends or family when you seem the happiest and most passionate, see a therapist and process it all with an unbiased support.
- Honour the place you are while exploring where you want to go. Even if you don’t feel like your current workplace is where you’re meant to be – continue to work your ass off there. You never want to leave a job on bad terms – you never know when you may need a reference and even in a work environment you’re ready to move on from, there are still things to learn.
- Start seeking out relationships and mentors who are doing the thing you dream about.
- Experiment with that passion – volunteer, create content online, build a community. For three years before I began to pursue it as a job, I showed up on social media and created content. I developed transferrable skills that would serve me down the road – photography, contract writing + negotiations, pitching, and writing, to name a few.
- Dial in your finances. Start putting money aside if you anticipate there will come a point where you will step away from your job. I would recommend at least 3-6 months of income if possible.
- Be prepared for many long days. For about a year before I stepped away from my job, I was working with brands and doing content creation on Instagram while working my (very demanding) full-time job. But that meant when I stepped away from my job, I had a ton of connections and experience in the field and was able to land some paying jobs that took some of the financial stress off.