You may have read this a million times. This is the time to change careers. We are living in a “passion economy”.
On the one hand, we read about how the top-earning writer on the paid newsletter platform Substack earns more than $500,000 a year from reader subscriptions, or the top content creator on Podia, a platform for video courses and digital memberships, makes more than $100,000 a month.
On the other hand, the shadow of the hustle culture depicts the entrepreneurship world as a lifestyle made for people wanting to achieve six or seven figures whilst constantly showing up online.
In a recent survey, about a third of respondents between ages 25 and 44 said they’ve considered making a career change at some point within the past year, according to online education site EdX.
This push and pull of “doing what you love” and “just doing it” (to quote a well-known brand) has left loads of newly self-employed individuals exhausted before even diving in.
New digital platforms (like Medium, Teachable and the likes) enable people to earn a livelihood in a way that highlights their individuality. Yet, I often find confusing (and mildly aggressive) advice on how to shift one’s mindset when it comes to finding the confidence to follow their own path and changing their careers.
“Entrepreneurship is a journey of self-development. It requires you to take risks, constantly push yourself beyond your comfort zone and take action despite bouts of self-doubt” shares organisational psychologist Karen Sargent. “It’s a roller coaster journey and It’s easy to assume that you’re not cut out for it when the roller coaster is hurtling down at a 100 miles per hour.”
Admittedly, I became self-employed as a 24-year-old young woman without any. family support, and little savings to my name. I did multiple jobs, I took on different projects being aware that I could easily work in cafes when needed and nobody was depending on me at the time.
Yet, the fact that my family was over 11,000 miles away helped me with resilience.
The new generation of entrepreneurs and passion-driven personal brands is very different, and much more nuanced.
The platform Outschool, for example, is an online marketplace for live video classes in which teachers are predominantly former school teachers and stay-at-home parents. Teachable allows creatives to make and sell video courses and digital memberships. Jolt, platform on which I teach regularly, is mainly aimed at professionals.
Different platforms will serve different breeds of creatives and so-called “solo-preneurs” — to me this is proof that now, more than ever, working on one’s mindset and getting crystal clear on how to best show up as a freelancer is key.
Tap into your passions
Remember all the people who advised you to find a better work-life balance to be happier? Well, these people were dead wrong because — wait for it — work-life balance does not exist.
What you are implying is that work is not part of your life, which is definitely not the case, since most of us work up to 45 hours per week.
Yet, we can still find balance in our life. Imagine your life as a big pie chart, and work being a big chunk of that chart.
What can you fill the rest of the pie with?
Rest. Play. Adventure. Movement. Stillness.
Yet, 30 to 40 hours can be a lot of hours spent doing something you won’t be proud of for years to come. This is why it’s imperative you find a way to fall in love with your work.
“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” — Buddha
So many people nowadays realize that they want more out of their work. This is why today I want to give you a few tips to find the work that really speaks to you.
Define your roadmap
Work out the size and scale of the shift you need. Get to grips with the sources of your discontent.
If your biggest blahs are an incompatible boss or inflexible hours or a cramped workspace, perhaps it’s the job.
If you still love your ‘work’ but your job has lost its luster it’s probably time for a side step.
Alternatively, if you’re googling qualifications and starting salaries for something entirely new and imaging a radically reinvented you — maybe it’s the career.
When in doubt remember:
- Embrace your interests
- Leverage your skills
- Serve market needs
Where do you even start?
Once you’ve answered the ‘job vs. career change’ question, it’s natural to be inspired and impatient in equal measures.
Like every other transformative thing we do, career change calls for curiosity and courage and a mix of head and heart-driven decisions. There are millions of mysterious, unexplored careers out there.
How are you supposed to know which ones might work for you?
Lack of knowledge about what’s possible is one of the biggest early hurdles career changers need to clear. You can start by spending a month watching and listening for anything that sparked your interest. Map the articles that capture you on social media, and topics that swell stack of bedside reading.
Get clear about what you are drawn to in the world, where career change clues might lie.
Ditch your fear of looking foolish and drink tea with heaps of kind, supportive people in jobs and sectors that interest you (even just a tiny bit).
Ask people out for a coffee — the worst thing that can happen is people won’t be able to help.
This is how you can learn what it takes to be successful, and get deep insights into their day-to-day reality.
If figuring out and following your new path feels like a long slow process, remind yourself that realizing any ‘grand design’ takes time and tenacity.
How to fund your career change
How can you hunt down a more fulfilling job without shredding the lifestyle you love or even keep food on the table? As with all fears, it is best to stare this one down.
In fact, ‘running the numbers’ helps you feel competent and in control — two feelings that often desert us temporarily during a career change. Furthermore, few things are as empowering as stuffing your money demons back in their box with a solid plan to fund your career change.
Pin down exactly what you need to cover your basics.
Can you save by cutting back on some things straight away? Do you need to stay put and save to fund time off to figure things out or train? Could you work part-time while you test a business idea or transition into a new area? Could you set up a side project at or outside of work?
Making a change is possible
“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing — that’s why we recommend it daily.” -Zig Ziglar
When looking to make a career change, ask yourself: “What about this new job can I fall in love with?” The more you can fully embrace your new career, the better.
Set the bar HIGH. Aim to love your work, not tolerate it.
Never forget — your first conversation with yourself should be about “life” instead of workplace leadership or productivity. Why? Simple. A successful career with a miserable life is a terrible outcome.