How To Change Careers or Become Self-Employed
BY: GARY DEK ON MONDAY, JUNE 30, 2014
You wake up after only five hours of sleep and sit in traffic to drive for an hour to get somewhere only 10 miles away where you have to spend 8+ hours of your day being abused by narcissistic management and dealing with whiny customers. You’re so exhausted by the time you get home that you barely have the energy to do anything before you have to go to bed and do it all over again.
You hate your job, and so do many Americans. In our “pursuit of happiness,” we’ve lost sight of what we want. Perks and better-than-average salaries have tricked us; dead-end employment and glass ceilings have trapped us. Is it time to find a better job opportunity, start a business, or acquire an existing one? Maybe you should have been a doctor or lawyer so you could start your own practice after a few years. Is it too late to start a blog and make money online? You wonder how you can put up with the job you have now until you’re able to transition your skill set and knowledge into your own venture. But before you can move on and make a change careers, you have to be introspective to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Reasons Why You’re Still At The Job You Hate
Money isn’t the only reason why people stay at a job they hate. Human beings inherently seek out security, and if you know your job is stable, especially in an unstable economy, you’re more likely to rationalize sticking around even when you’re clearly struggling to be happy. This potential for instability is most likely the biggest factor entrepreneurs consider before starting their own business, particularly when they have a family, mortgage, education costs, etc.
Here are some reasons why you might still be clinging to your miserable job:
1. Fear of the unknown. Most people are creatures of habit. We stick to what we know because it’s comfortable and familiar. This is absolutely the worst reason to stay in an unwanted situation, but you’re not alone.
2. Financial stability. Job security means income security, regardless of its size. Even if you’re shopping at the 99 cent store for groceries while your whole paycheck is going to rent and bills, it’s still a reliable paycheck. Taking on your dream job may mean an unsteady income and that’s flat out scary.
3. Lack of marketable skills. You’ve been working the same job for twenty years – the one that only required that you type 45 words per minute and have decent verbal and written communication skills. Unfortunately, while you’ve been excelling in your own territory, technology has expanded to reach all work related areas. You likely worry about the “do-it-all” aspect of being self-employed because you aren’t confident you can.
4. Money, money, money. Some people believe that success is measured by the size of your bank account, and those who have big ones probably feel mighty successful. Does depositing a hefty check offer satisfaction? What great sacrifices are you making to keep that lifestyle? Some may prefer money over freedom, while others value their contribution to society.
How To Change Careers
It’s not easy trying something new, no matter how unhappy you are with the old. There’s always some kind of excuse or maybe you just need to learn how to motivate yourself. There are people who hate their jobs so much that they take their stress home and suffer from health problems, emotional disorders, and family dysfunction. If this sounds like what you are experiencing, maybe it’s time to make a change.
1. Start gathering references. You know those coworkers who like you so much? Get them to write you letters of recommendation because they will come in handy with loan officers when you are seeking a business loan from the bank. Collect contact information for anyone in your company with a title who knows you well enough to serve as a reference for future clients, assuming you won’t be competing with your current employer. Even if that is the case, build up your network; you never know who you may want to hire away to work with you.
2. What’s the plan? To get anything done in life, we need goals. When searching for a new career, goals such as furthering your education will help you transition careers and industries. If you’re long-term goal is to become self-employed, then start reading books on the industry you want to transition to. If possible, you can even slowly start building a part-time income in the next 12 to 18 months to soften your move to full-time self-employment.
3. Don’t burn the day. Use your free time wisely. Instead of watching a sitcom or surfing the internet during your downtime, be productive. Want to make money from home? Try a freelance writing, editing or graphic design business. Want to start an event-planning business? Start building your network and volunteer on the weekends to work with an existing company. Interested in opening a restaurant? Work at a local one similar to the style of restaurant you want to start. Yes, the current job you hate is exhausting, but utilize any free time you have to take advantage of opportunities.
4. Don’t scoff at company paid workshops. While you’re still able to, take advantage of current resources to develop new skills and meet people who might become your first customers.
5. Do not despair. Why dwell on your unhappiness? We all know nothing positive comes of that. Be productive and take steps to achieving your goal, then focus on the good stuff. Go out with your friends, get a hobby, or do whatever it is that allows you to relax. Leave work at work, where it belongs.
6. Don’t bring everyone down with you. Friends and family are there to listen when you’re down. Managing stress is crucial to maintaining balance in your life, but being overly negative can work against you. Learn to channel that energy into positive change. As John Lyons said: “Look at frustration as a positive thing. It is the frustration that drives you to improve.”
7. Be grateful. You may hate your job, but at least you still have one. By all means, keep looking for better opportunities, but don’t ever let your disappointment spoil your gratitude. There is always someone worse off.
Most of us have learned that money doesn’t buy happiness and that, by following your dreams, you can find contentment and inspiration. They say a happy worker is a good worker, so imagine how productive you could be if you only loved your career, self-employed or not.
What steps have you taken to change careers or transition from a job to self-employment?
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