By the age of 18, most of us have a decent idea of where we want to go in life. We might not have a specific role in mind, but we tend to have a general idea of what industry we want to work in, or at least an idea of what kind of occupations we think will best allow us to walk the work/life balance line.
It’s actually quite strange that we have to make decisions about our future choices at such a young age. When we’re 18, we have to pick college courses or set ourselves on an apprenticeship that will take us where we want to go. Yet we do all this before our brains have finished maturing! There’s some argument that we’re literally barely capable of making such huge decisions at this point in life—yet make them we do.
The problem with this is obvious. The things you want to do when you’re 18 might not ultimately be the things that will make you happy for your entire life. With time, you see the problems with your career path—maybe you try it and find it’s not all that you had hoped it would be. Yet your career is tailored around this path, your education is rooted to it, and there’s nothing else on your resumé that gives you an out.
The result? You feel trapped. You know that you made a mistake and the occupation you have chosen isn’t a good fit for you—but what can you do about it? Keep these things in mind if you’re realized that you may have chosen the wrong career path for you.
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If we were being simplistic, the answer here is a dismissive wave of the hand and telling you to go and retrain into something you do want to do. There are, however, two problems with that:
- Who’s to say you have a better idea now about what you might want to do in the future? You’re moving from one snap judgment, fuelled only by a desire to just not do what you’re currently doing, into another.
Most of us don’t work for pleasure; we work because we need to. The later in life the realization that you’re in the wrong role comes, the more difficult the process is. You might have a family and children to support. It’s never as simple as just quitting your job and throwing yourself into retraining; not only do you need your wage to survive, but you also can’t be throwing around money on training for something that doesn’t actually suit you.
You can however, get a side hustle going. Check out this post on 17 Side Hustle Ideas that Could Replace Your Day Job (And how to Get started.) A side hustle could give you enough financial cushion and more experience in a field you actually want to go down.
Make A Plan
So what are your choices: stay with the job you hate until you retire? That’s a lot of years you’re going to have to cope with, always wondering if perhaps you should have become a makeup artist or given more thought to the public service careers you have always thought you’d be a good fit for. Or whatever your new preferred job is; you’re signing yourself up for a lifetime of “what ifs” while sacrificing 40-odd hours per week to a job you hate.
The steps to changing your career are not easy, but if you’re serious about it, then use the below guide as a blueprint:
- Make sure you know what you want to do and stick to the idea for at least six months before you make any changes. This protects against it being a whim.
- If you need additional training, try and fit it around your existing schedule with night school. You can transfer to something more full-time if you discover it’s a good fit for what you hoped.
- Don’t expect instant changes. The process of moving to a new occupation might take awhile, so try and be as patient as you can.
If you can keep your financial situation in mind and balance that with your ideals, you are sure to make the right choice in this situation.