The Hardest Things About Career Change You Need to Know

Have you been thinking about changing your career? 

I know that career change can be very daunting. Getting a second degree or certification that is necessary in some situations is a lot of work. And making sure you’ve got your finances in order can also be challenging. 

But the hardest things about your career change will likely be related to your mindset. 1. A tendency to (unfairly) compare yourself to other people who are already successful in your target career, 2. The fear of being a ‘Nobody’ which happens as a result of comparing your progress in your new career to the level you are at in your current career (which is of course much more advanced), and 3. The impatience to go through the whole process, knowing that you have to learn many things from scratch.

People who want to change careers usually fall into one of these two groups:

1. In the first group are those people who already exactly know how they want to change their careers, e.g. from being a teacher to becoming a software engineer.

2. In the second group are those people who are really unhappy with their current career and have a strong feeling that they desperately need to make some kind of change to their career but they just don’t know what that would entail.

If you fall into the second group then you have some work cut out for you. 

You have to first find out what you actually want. 

Let’s look at the first group of people who already know what kind of career change they want to make but for some reason still haven’t started the process yet. 

For most people changing careers is something that is really hard, especially if you’ve been working in your current career for more than 5, 10, 15, 20 or even 25 years. 

Even simply changing your job can be difficult. But when you talk about career change then the whole challenge is compounded. 

It’s not only about a change of environment, anew boss, new colleagues, and maybe new job duties, but here you find yourself confronted with a new industry and oftentimes you have to learn a lot of things from scratch. 

You have to learn and adapt very fast and oftentimes you have to dramatically change your mindset.  

Many people mistakenly assume that the hardest part about changing your career is the fact that you have to learn a lot of new things and acquire new knowledge. And perhaps the fact that in some cases you have to go back to school to get a second degree or a certification. On top of that you might have to save up some money in order to afford that education.

But these are not the biggest challenges, because these are all concrete things that you can plan and that you can check off your list. Such as saving money go back to school to get a degree get a certification and so on. 

I left my very successful and well-paying job in banking to pursue a career in the entertainment industry

when I was almost 30, and believe me I spent a good year or more than a year intensely thinking about and planning for that decision.

So I can tell you based on my own experience what actually the hardest thing about changing your

career is. This is also based on my observation of other people, my friends, family members, and acquaintances. They are people who are really unhappy in their current career, but for many reasons still haven’t started the process of changing their careers, although they know that it will take them a long time.

 

1. The first thing that is hard to overcome is comparing yourself to other people. 

It could be a friend a family member or even someone famous who is already successful in the career that you want to be in. You look at that person and you think to yourself: “Oh man, if I start now there’s so much I have to catch up on to get to the level of that person?”

Let’s say that you’re the head of marketing in your company and you’re very successful, and the reason

for that is because you’ve been working hard for the last 10 years on your career. 

But now what you want to do is start your own business. You look at these other business owners

who’ve already made it and who are already successful. And you think to yourself: “Oh my, how long, if I start now, will I have to work on being a successful business owner until I get to that level?” 

And by thinking that way you’ve already given up before you’ve even started. 

 

2. The second thing is the fear of being a nobody – comparing your progress in your new career to your level of success in your current career

In the earlier example you would think: “I’m the head of marketing now. I’m doing really well and I’ve worked really hard.” I’ve worked 10 long years to be where I am. 

But if I change careers now, if I try and start something new like becoming a software engineer, I’m a nobody. I’m starting from the bottom. I’m basically like a fresh grad again. 

And that kind of thinking can attack your pride.

Right now you can say that you are somebody. You are for example this head of marketing and you can tell people who you are. You have a clear position in society. 

But it’s a different thing if you’re trying to change your career, start something new, e.g. become a software engineer. People ask you what do you, and it’s kind of difficult to answer that question. 

That is a scenario that many people are afraid to face.

3. The third thing is the realization that you kind of have to repeat the whole process of learning again. 

For example getting a second degree or certification and preparing yourself for two or three years before you can get into that new career. 

For some people, especially those who enjoy the process of learning itself, that might not be a

problem. But for other people who are a bit more on the impatient side that can turn into a burden.

I am kind of a mixture of the two. While I do tremendously enjoy every step of the learning process, I must confess that sometimes some impatience does sneak in. Because the reality is that it can takeyou years to change your career and to settle in. 

Sometimes it can take even longer than that depending on how ambitious or how extreme your career change is.

So now you might ask: Are these really the most difficult things? Aren’t there more difficult things about career change such as preparing yourself financially for a career change? Or convincing your spouse or perhaps even your parents that you’re doing the right thing? 

And I would say that although these two things are also extremely difficult to manage, the things that I mentioned earlier related to your mindset are by far the most challenging.

As soon as you have certainty, you are utterly convinced that a career change must happen if you are in the right mindset, then you will be able to tackle all of the rest.

On the contrary, if you don’t have the right mindset, a career change may never happen. 

Now before you say: Why are you telling me about all these difficult things about career change? Are

you telling me not to go for it?

Here is the solution.

First let’s remind ourselves again that to achieve anything worthwhile we have to always

face a set of challenges. And to conquer those challenges first we have to be able to identify them. 

Of course, everyone has their challenges that they must face. But this challenge related to self-image and changing that self-image is universal.

The three things that I just talked about: comparing yourself to where other people already are,

comparing your progress in your new career to the level you are currently at your current career, and the

impatience knowing that you have to learn many things from scratch those are all mindsets that block and hinder your career change.

So if you’ve been struggling to even start your career change process, the only way that you can finally get this started is to address these mind blocks one by one.

I’d just like to very briefly summarize how to tackle these mind blocks which is first and foremost changing your self-image and number two changing the way you view time. 

If you want to be able to stop comparing yourself to other people and stop setting unrealistic expectations toward yourself, then you need to be open toward changing your self-image.

The reason why I wanted to share with you about these difficult things is not to discourage you at all.

On the contrary, the sooner we become aware of these mind blocks the faster we can start changing our careers.

You might ask me: So do you have it all figured out? And the answer is: No, I don’t. 

But what I can tell you is this: Every time that I get frustrated I ask myself “What is the real problem?”

And as soon as I can honestly tell myself what the actual problem is – and usually it’s something related to my mindset – that is when I can finally find an answer and make progress.

Start Any Personal Project by Answering These 7 Questions

To finally start a personal project and avoid postponing it, you need a basic plan for your project that you can refer to throughout your project. This should answer at least 7 basic questions including why it is important for you to pursue this particular project, who needs to be involved in it, the scope of your project, what the main steps are to achieve it, when you will start and for how long you will work on it, what the budget, and what the risks are.

Why Multiple Careers are Becoming More Common

It has become increasingly common for people to have multiple careers throughout their lives. This means that they either have more than one career at the same time, also called multiple concurrent careers, or that they pursued several careers during different stages in their lives, also known as multiple sequential careers. In the latter case, they would have changed careers at least once in their life.

Astrid Hall in the Independent.co.uk reports about a study done in the UK, commissioned by First Direct Bank, which shows that more than half of working British are not sure if they’re in the right career. Researchers polled 2,000 people across the country and found that four out of ten planned to change careers within the next two years. I was quite surprised to read that this does not only apply to Millennials or Gen Z, but also to people in their mid-40s.

The Head of First Direct says that “It’s easy to associate career switching with the early years of your working life, but our research found the desire to do something completely different spans every age and generation. “Even 42 percent of the over-45s plan to change careers in the next two years.

Another study done by workopolis in which 4,000 Canadians were surveyed in September and October 2014 reveals that more and more of us are also switching career paths completely at least two or three times. When asked the question ‘How many different career paths have you followed, a whopping 76% of the respondents had switched career paths at least 2 times in their lives. 24% of the people surveyed had even switched careers 3 times.

Looking at these numbers I asked myself why it has become so normal for people to change careers. As someone who changed careers once so far, I understand the multitude of reasons that people have for either changing careers or adding a second one. But I sense that apart from these personal reasons there are also more macro developments driving this trend, which are as follows:

1. Longer life expectations

People now are living much longer than they used to. In the 20’s the average life expectancy worldwide was below 40 years old. When a person only had around 20 years to work, it makes sense to focus on one thing and make the best out of it. In many cases, career change is associated with a temporary setback in income, and it also takes time to prepare and adjust to the new career. But in 2015, people could on average expect to live to over 70 years old, and the number is on the rise. In the UK, South Korea, and in most of the industrialized world life expectancy even exceeds 80 years. This has dramatically increased the time during which people can have an active and productive working life.

People now have the option to work from their 20s into their 60s, and even 70s and beyond. In a longer life, there are simply more possibilities. Especially people with many interests and the wish to develop different skill sets on a professional level now increasingly see the possibility of starting a second career later on in life. Unless you have one single goal that must be achieved by pursuing one career, e.g. you want to solve the questions of ‘are we alone in the universe’ and the kind, then you have the option of pursuing a range of things on a professional level throughout your life.

2. Increase in living standards in most parts of the world

People of my grandparent’s generation would always tell stories about how tough life in the 20s and 30s were. It is safe to say that in the industrialized world at least, the majority of people enjoy an overall higher living standard than their grandparents. At a time when people were still struggling to meet their basic needs, people were grateful to have a job at all. Only lately has the term career has been increasingly used. As our needs for food, shelter, clothing are met, we now have the possibility to think about our higher needs, to seek self-actualization, self-expression, pursue a variety of interests, or even trying to seek work-life balance as far as that exists.

In developed countries, there has also been a lot of wealth transferred through inheritances from the older to the younger generation. This generation now increasingly has the possibility to pursue more lofty and varied career goals. When in the earlier part of the century career change might still have been frowned upon and multiple careers would have been seen as a luxury, nowadays people in general open to the idea of and even admiring people who successfully pursue multiple careers.

3. Fast-changing world with a lot of disruptions

We no longer live in a world where lifelong employment is guaranteed. Not even in Japan. Developments in automation and AI, as well as impacts of globalization, has and will continue to cause changes in the world of work. We hear about companies merging and re-structuring all the time. Mostly jobs that require manual labor are being off-shored, but even white-collar jobs are at threat.

As a result of increased automation and developments in artificial intelligence, many careers are already on the decline. These include typist or door-to-door salesmen careers. You can argue whether or not these are jobs or careers. But there certainly was a time where people would regard being a professional typist as a career that they would pursue seriously and take pride in. Nowadays voice recognition technology is becoming so advanced that typist jobs may soon become obsolete.

The first two developments, people living longer and increased living standards were what gave people the option to pursue more varied careers in the form of multiple careers. It gave them the pre-condition or a baseline from which they could feel freer to explore different careers. I think that this is what subconsciously drives people into the world of multiple careers. The third development, however, makes it necessary for many people to think out of the box when it comes to their careers. Will their career be among the ones that becomes threatened by disruption?

In a study done by Adobe on the future of work, one of the key findings was that 56% of the respondents predict that most people will hold multiple jobs in the future because of the impact that the working environment will have. This may say a lot not only about their expectations about their future but also to some extent how they themselves envision their working lives.

However far-reaching you believe the impact of AI and automation will be on our lives, every single career will be impacted in the future. On one hand some people want to intentionally have multiple careers because they feel a push to explore and apply other skillsets, or pursue their interest and passions. But for many other people, exploring and having multiple careers is necessary as a reaction toward these more macro developments in the world. Perhaps there is subconscious need to diversify.

It might indeed be a good idea for people to prepare for possible disruptions by preparing a second career with a better outlook such as careers in solar energy, healthcare, and many others, or work on a second career on the side. This way there will be less of a shock in case it comes to bigger disruptions in specific industries or professions.

It has become increasingly common for people to have multiple careers throughout their lives. This means that they either have more than one career at the same time, also called multiple concurrent careers, or that they pursued several careers during different stages in their lives, also known as multiple sequential careers. In the latter case, they would have changed careers at least once in their life.

Astrid Hall in the Independent.co.uk reports about a study done in the UK, commissioned by First Direct Bank, which shows that more than half of working British are not sure if they’re in the right career. Researchers polled 2,000 people across the country and found that four out of ten planned to change careers within the next two years. I was quite surprised to read that this does not only apply to Millennials or Gen Z, but also to people in their mid-40s.

The Head of First Direct says that “It’s easy to associate career switching with the early years of your working life, but our research found the desire to do something completely different spans every age and generation. “Even 42 percent of the over-45s plan to change careers in the next two years.

Another study done by workopolis in which 4,000 Canadians were surveyed in September and October 2014 reveals that more and more of us are also switching career paths completely at least two or three times. When asked the question ‘How many different career paths have you followed, a whopping 76% of the respondents had switched career paths at least 2 times in their lives. 24% of the people surveyed had even switched careers 3 times.

Looking at these numbers I asked myself why it has become so normal for people to change careers. As someone who changed careers once so far, I understand the multitude of reasons that people have for either changing careers or adding a second one. But I sense that apart from these personal reasons there are also more macro developments driving this trend, which are as follows:

1. Longer life expectations

People now are living much longer than they used to. In the 20’s the average life expectancy worldwide was below 40 years old. When a person only had around 20 years to work, it makes sense to focus on one thing and make the best out of it. In many cases, career change is associated with a temporary setback in income, and it also takes time to prepare and adjust to the new career. But in 2015, people could on average expect to live to over 70 years old, and the number is on the rise. In the UK, South Korea, and in most of the industrialized world life expectancy even exceeds 80 years. This has dramatically increased the time during which people can have an active and productive working life.

People now have the option to work from their 20s into their 60s, and even 70s and beyond. In an increasingly longer life, there are simply more possibilities. Especially people with many interests and the wish to develop different skill sets on a professional level now increasingly see the possibility of starting a second career later on in life. Unless you have one single goal that must be achieved by pursuing one career, e.g. you want to solve the questions of ‘are we alone in the universe’ and the kind, then you have the option of pursuing a range of things on a professional level throughout your life.

2. Increase in living standards in most parts of the world

People of my grandparent’s generation would always tell stories about how tough life in the 20s and 30s were. It is safe to say that in the industrialized world at least, the majority of people enjoy an overall higher living standard than their grandparents. At a time when people were still struggling to meet their basic needs, people were grateful to have a job at all. Only lately has the term career has been increasingly used. As our needs for food, shelter, clothing are met, we now have the luxury to think about our higher needs, to seek self-actualization, self-expression, pursue a variety of interests, or even trying to seek work-life balance as far as that exists.

In developed countries, there has also been a lot of wealth transferred through inheritances from the older to the younger generation. This generation now can increasingly pursue more lofty and varied career goals. When in the earlier part of the century career change might still have been frowned upon and multiple careers would have been seen as a luxury, nowadays people in general open to the idea of and even admiring people who successfully pursue multiple careers.

3. Fast-changing world with a lot of disruptions 

We no longer live in a world where lifelong employment is guaranteed. Not even in Japan. Developments in automation and AI, as well as impacts of globalization, has and will continue to cause changes in the world of work. We hear about companies merging and re-structuring all the time. Mostly jobs that require manual labor are being off-shored, but even white-collar jobs are at threat.

As a result of increased automation and developments in artificial intelligence, many careers are already on the decline. These include typist or door-to-door salesmen careers. You can argue whether or not these are jobs or careers. But there certainly was a time where people would regard being a professional typist as a career that they would pursue seriously and take pride in. Nowadays voice recognition technology is becoming so advanced that typist jobs may soon become obsolete.

The first two developments, people living longer and increased living standards were what gave people the option to pursue more varied careers in the form of multiple careers. It gave them the pre-condition or a baseline from which they could feel freer to explore different careers. I think that this is what subconsciously drives people into the world of multiple careers. The third development, however, makes it necessary for many people to think out of the box when it comes to their careers. Will their career be among the ones that become threatened by disruption?

In a study done by Adobe on the future of work, one of the key findings was that 56% of the respondents predict that most people will hold multiple jobs in the future because of the impact that the working environment will have. This may say a lot not only about their expectations about their future but also to some extent how they envision their working lives.

However far-reaching you believe the impact of AI and automation will be on our lives, every single career will be impacted in the future. On one hand, some people want to intentionally have multiple careers because they feel a push to explore and apply other skillsets or pursue their interests and passions. But for many other people, exploring and having multiple careers is necessary as a reaction toward these more macro developments in the world. Perhaps there is a subconscious need to diversify.

It might indeed be a good idea for people to prepare for possible disruptions by preparing a second career with a better outlook such as careers in solar energy, healthcare, and many others, or work on a second career on the side. This way there will be less of a shock in case it comes to bigger disruptions in specific industries or professions.

It might indeed be a good idea for people to prepare for possible disruptions by preparing a second career with a better outlook such as careers in solar energy, healthcare, and many others, or work on a second career on the side. This way there will be less of a shock in case it comes to bigger disruptions in specific industries or professions.