When do you stop chasing your career path?
This is a bit different to what I normally write about here. But, my thoughts tumbled in a wash of hesitation, dread and then realisation when I received a call from a recruiting agency yesterday.
I won’t go into any detail here but to only say, I have many good friends around me and often I see them in anguish almost every time I visit them. The anguish revolves around their job, yes the 9-5 job that eats away at your flesh for a salary that never changes from one day to the next. You have to be seen, heard and reactive to your boss, manager or director. I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt and made the movie believe me….
I’m not writing this to say there is a magic wand to change all this but I sat and thought of all or any reasons of how or why some of us get into this situation of wanting to stop this madness and find an something different that is enjoyable, still hard work but at least satisfying.
We’re told from the time we’re born that we can grow up to be anything we want. Our parents, teachers and guardians instill the belief that the sky’s the limit and anything is possible.
Yet as we age and go on to school, college and finally the real world, our options slowly begin to seem fewer and farther between.
But what changed between now and then?
Are we different people? Did our hopes, dreams and priorities change? Or maybe we just got comfortable?
For most of us, it’s a combination of all of these things. We grew up, got a dose of reality and opted for the safer, more conventional route. Sure, when you were little, all of those famed “roads less traveled” didn’t sound too bad – especially if all of those great things were waiting for you at the end. But now that you’re out on your own and sort of know what these roads entail, they seem less than welcoming.
So instead, you opt to settle for mediocrity. You somehow convince yourself that the responsible adult thing to do is stick with it and ignore all of those passions you once had. You convince yourself to accept your new reality.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t once think that way, too.
Looking back, I couldn’t feel more ridiculous about just how wrong I was.
I had a good education, got qualifications in what I wanted to do (musician). I retriand and took more qualifications and ended up with a nice, well-paying IT job with a government agency. It offered competitive benefits, plenty of holidays and countless other perks I could list off – yet, after a few years happily pursuing this career I became miserable and dreaded going to work every day. So what had happened?
Finally, one day, I could no longer take it and decided to make the leap. I was officially going to leave the job when my post had become redundant. After leaving in June this year (2014) I chased my dreams – a decision I likened to leaving the respectable, proper man everyone wants you to marry for money to be with the love-struck bloke who lacks direction. It might not have looked like the logical choice, but for me it FELT right, and my heart was happy.
But getting to that point was definitely not easy. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions filled with input from everyone from my loved ones to the hairdresser and decisions I never thought I’d have to make. So if you’re considering making a similar leap, you need to be ready for what might come your way.
Here are three things you’ll likely encounter on your journey:
1. People will think you’re crazy… and then tell you why
After I put in my 3 months’ notice, I felt like I had a sign on my back that read “Please come tell me why I’m making the biggest mistake of my life.”
At first I was annoyed by the comments and reacted defensively, explaining the reasons for my decision, until I realized I owed these people no explanation. After all, it was MY life, not theirs. Some came round (good friends) to express jealousy saying they wish they had the balls to do this.
While some people offered honest, genuine input and advice, the majority seemed to voice their opinions out of fear and misunderstanding – which is to be expected since, in their eyes, I was rocking the boat and going against the grain.
So when or if this happens to you, take it all in stride. You might have to force a smile and feign politeness, but keep your thoughts to yourself and your eyes on the prize.
2. You will feel exhausted
Making a big career change or leaving it behind is no small task, especially if your new pursuit is in a completely different field. Odds are you will find yourself at the bottom of the workplace food chain, but don’t let that discourage you.
You might have to put in extra hours and sacrifice your social life for a bit, but it will be worth it. We all have those moments where we long for our old schedule, but remind yourself of the agony and general blah-ness that came with it, and you’ll persevere. As they say: no pain, no gain.
3. You will face new challenges
With this change will likely come unfamiliar challenges. They might even be a bit uncomfortable and scary. But rather than cowering from these challenges, try to embrace them. They are new opportunities that will be the foundation of your growth and change.
Be prepared and willing to fail. After all, you didn’t come all this way to back down, now, did you?