How To Relaunch Yourself In A Different Career
Change is hard to embrace. But if you’re determined to pursue a career that’s completely different from the one you’ve had, then you must be willing to adjust to significantly different circumstances. In this, I speak from experience.
Some years ago I left what was a very lucrative career in management consulting to become a writer. One of the most painful things about the break was the substantial reduction in my monthly earnings. I went from a very comfortable six figure salary to revenue that I could barely live on. The sense of status, power, and advancement disappeared overnight. I was forced to start from scratch, and to re-build my portfolio and my personal brand from scratch.
Success—or at least the beginnings of it—in my new career has not taken long to achieve. In less than five years, I have written three short novels (all accepted for publication) and am a contributing writer for a number of online magazines. I am not there yet, but my path to success is much clearer than it was in the beginning.
What does it take to relaunch yourself in a different career? I have broken it down to 4 things:
You should not seek to relaunch yourself in a different career if you are not prepared to do the work that the job you want requires. In these days of feel good hype on social media and of the commonly accepted notion that anyone can do anything if they want it bad enough, it is not out of place to say that most professions require years of schooling, training, and experience to be done properly. If you are thinking of leaving your corporate job to become an artist, for example, you should have some notion as to whether you have the materials, the means, and the talent to create and sell your work. There is a world of difference between making art and making a living from it. The latter requires you to undertake a more rigorous and systematic approach to working and doing business with agents, dealers, and buyers. Even if your desire is to stay within the corporate world but move to another line of work, you will still need to master the norms and practices of the new profession, which may be drastically different from the ones you’re used to. The bottom line is that you must do your homework and prepare yourself as thoroughly as you can before moving from one career to another.
You must stay calm and focused. Success will not fall into your lap overnight. You must remember that no matter how much education and experience you have in general, you are still green when it comes to your new career. You may get lucky and go from strength to strength straightaway. The more likely outcome is that you will have to wade through years of drudgery before you can put yourself in a position to make a great leap forward. At times, you may be tempted to do something rash or you may come under pressure—by family, friends, or your girlfriend—to be “practical” and return to your old job, where you know you can earn money and support yourself financially. Don’t do it. If you have chosen a career in which it is hard for beginners to make money, then you should of course consider doing a side job to earn some cash. But you should not do anything that will compromise your efforts to make a breakthrough in your new career.
It takes extreme dedication to make the relaunch a success. You will have to work long hours, give more of your time to study, and spend a considerable amount of energy mastering your new craft. Loneliness and isolation will be the consequences of such dedication. If you are serious about making something of your new career, you will need to sacrifice a great deal of play for more work. Nothing must be allowed to distract you from your ultimate goal. Once you’ve achieved success in your new career, you will be able to rebalance your life. Until then, you must be willing to put mind, body, and soul fully into your new profession.
All the while, you must have an invincible confidence in yourself. You must believe that the path you’re taking is the one that’s right for you. If you have the support of the people around you, that is a good thing. But you must not depend on anyone’s encouragement to keep you going. You must also pursue your new career in your own way. By all means, hear what others have to say about making it in the field, but do things in a way that best suits your circumstances and temperament. Those who have made it to the top of their professions have a tendency to be absolutist in their perspectives. Indeed, there is an entire industry—in books, seminars, and public speaking—dedicated to promoting single paths to success. There is, however, no one way to the top in any field. It is important to remember that, and to remain confident in the efficacy of your judgment and decisions.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.