Are you dreaming of a new career? Do you spend each day counting down the hours until you can go home and your nights imagining what else you could be doing with your life? Nearly everyone goes through this at least once in their life. So what happens if you’re ready to move on to a new career but your financial situation is keeping you stuck in your current job? Believe it or not, you do have options! Let’s talk about all the ways you can improve your skills and finances so you can move on to a job (..no...a career) you love.
Evaluate Your Situation
First things first: do you know what you want to do? Don’t worry if the answer is no! There are ways you can start to figure this out. For example, if you were given a week off of work for a “staycation”, what would you spend your time on? Would you read? Would you get crafty? Would you just watch tv? If so, what channel would you watch or what types of shows are you drawn to? The same goes for what you do when helping others. Do you help your friends budget, or are you always helping them plan their weddings, or are you the go-to dinner host? You might have a career ahead in finance, the wedding industry, or in the culinary industry. No matter what, understanding where your brain naturally drifts is the key to understanding what type of career you should build.
Now let’s say you do know what you want to do. What needs to happen for you to transition into that career? Will you need more education? What about experience? If more education is required, find out what schools you could attend while working (or see if that’s even an option in your field) and how much the programs will cost. Don’t forget to find out if your current employer might compensate or reimburse your education costs! If you’ll need experience, look at entry level positions or internships you could take. Getting into the new career may mean money spent or a pay cut so you’ll want to know the details to prepare.
Use Free Time to Develop Money & Skills
Now it’s time to figure out how you can use your free time to develop more money and skills. You’ll want to earn income on the side to build up your emergency fund. This will prepare you financially for the day you finally do switch careers. Either find an opportunity that relates exactly to the new career, or go with the interests you have to expand the skills you want to focus on.
For example: If you want to develop your writing skills, try freelance writing or blogging. Are you a people person? Find part-time opportunities in retail that interest you such as fashion, food, flowers, coffee, the list goes on and on! There may even be volunteer opportunities that help you break into your new field and build a network, so pay attention to those as well.
Another way to improve your talents on the long term is online education. It is known that a higher degree means higher income. If you really want your life to change, you have to invest in yourself for once. For example, many online programs have been developed to help registered nurses get their bachelor degree in nursing. This way, they are obtaining more responsibilities on the job which allowed then to worry less about their income. Plus online programs have been designed to be really manageable along with you daily routine, as well as less expensive that a regular university degree. If you start looking into it, you can also find financial aid, from universities or government, which will help you achieve your career goals.
While you’re building your skills and financial cushion, don’t forget about the concrete steps which will help you transition to your new career. Seek out various professionals in your desired career (or multiple desired careers if you’re still shopping) and request informational interviews. An informational interview is one in which you find out what someone does, what their career path looks like, and how they got to that point. Believe it or not, a lot of professionals are very open to doing this! It gives them a chance to talk about themselves and their company as well as help up and comers in the field that they love.
Next, go back to the costs associated with your career change - whether that be planning for a future pay cut as you take that first job or paying for more education. Develop a budget to figure out how you want to account for these costs. Maybe you’ll do it by cutting certain costs, saving your side income, or a combination of both. Then you’ll want to see when you can realistically afford to make the change.
Plan the Transition
All that’s left to do now is transition your career! With your new sense of direction and a budget, plot the path you’ll need to take to get from where you are now to where you hope to be later, plus each point in between. For example, you might spend a few weeks educating yourself through books and websites on your industry, then start searching for side income to help build the skills you’ll need; all including the budget points along the way. This plan will help you see where you stand at all times, keep you motivated, and keep you from making a move before you’re truly ready (both professionally and financially).
Key take away: The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want yet! Start with a small idea, do some research, and see where that takes you. The path to success is rarely a straight line. I started out wanting to write and help people more than anything. Now many years (and a few unrelated jobs) later, I’m writing for a company that helps people understand how to pay off debt. My path has been long, windy, and often frustrating. Five years ago I could never have predicted where I’d be right now but I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turning out!
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