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How to Change Careers Safely and Smoothly

Updated on May 29, 2014

How to Change Your Career While Supporting Your Family

When does one quit their job to follow their dream? Changing jobs is scary, especially when you are on a career path. How do you follow your dream when you have a stable job?

When you started your first job, you were just starting out in the world of employment. You probably didn't know all of the choices that were available, and may not have had the network that would let you pursue a career in your chosen field. If you don't have any connections with people in the network, it is pretty difficult to meet people in the network, especially when you are young.

The resources that were available at that time were probably limited as well. You may not have had access to the internet like you do now, and did not have the opportunity to learn about different career choices and meet people from around the world.

You may have taken a job just to start getting money, and that job led to a promotion or another job, until one day, you wake up and realize that you have not had any input in your career. You have been going with the flow, but you would rather take another path.

You may have a family and feel a deep responsibility to support your family in a comfortable manner, so you keep working at this safe and secure job. You see other people follow their dreams, and is wondering when it will be your turn.

The answer to this question is a simple one. Now. You don't have to take turns, It really is always your turn, don't wait in line. You should start pursuing your dream today, this second. By doing what you love, you will find it easy to pursue it passionately, and be willing to put a great deal of time and energy into it. Because you are talented, you will find it to be much easier. It is easy for you, but it is not easy for other people. And because it is easy for you, you will be able to advance much faster, and it won't be long that your new career will easily replace and overshadow your old income.

The bigger question though, is how do you change your career to follow your dream, when you have a family to support? This is what I did, and it worked for me. Whether you are downsized, or jobs are scarce in your industry, or are simply dissatisfied in your current position, knowing how to change careers safely will provide you with the comfort level to follow your dream.


Key steps to changing your career safely

1. Make the decision to quit your job and change careers. Don't do it yet, but once you have a goal, then you can follow it. This will let you release any petty stuff that happens in the office, because you know (even though the other people in the office don't) that you won't be there much longer. You can set a deadline if you need one, but I didn't. I just knew day by day that I was working towards that goal. Eventually the balance tipped when my dissatisfaction with my current path overshadowed my fear of the unknown.

2. Beef up your savings account. Knowing that you have a cushion reduced my anxiety about making such a big change. A big financial cushion helps a great deal in allowing you the flexibility to take calculated risks to pursue your dreams. You want to accrue a savings that will will help you pay your bills and miscellaneous expenses, give you some additional cash for emergencies, of course, but you also want a cushion to help you if it takes longer to switch careers than you thought it would, buy an interview suit, buy gifts for your family, and give you a little splurge money as well.

3. The support of your family is critical of course, because they will have to make some sacrifices while you make this change. It will probably help if you create a game plan (as outlined in this post), and share it with them. They must be told that you want to find a way to honor your responsibility, while still pursuing your dream. It is your turn now.

4 Research your choices. If you want a career in graphic design, find out what is available, and decide which one would work best for you. Find out the qualifications for that position, and take classes, if necessary, and try to meet people who are in the field. You may even be able to find free classes online. Learn the jargon of the industry. Since you are older now, and since we have the internet, you should be able to reach wider than you did when you were first starting out.

5. Depending on your chosen career, you may be able to dabble in the field on a part time basis. Take some commissions, do free lance work, or shadow someone who works in the field. This may get you more money to put in your savings account, and help develop your confidence and reduce your anxiety.

6. Then do it. Take the leap. Once you have gotten this far, you will be ready. The step won't look as big as it does now. Look for a job in that field. If you can't find one in the field because you do not have the experience qualifications, you might have to find a stepping stone field. One that combines what you do know, with what you want to do in the future, so you can develop the experience.

It is possible to pursue your dream job while still honoring your responsibility to provide for your family. When you are happier in your career, you will probably be able to earn more money, and you will definitely come home happier at the end of each day. Life is short. Start today.

Additional Resources

10-Step Plan to Career Change

10 Career change Mistakes to Avoid

How to Change Careers Midlife


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