Career change - isn’t it too late?

I've had a few ideas bubbling away for my next blog post so I put out a poll on Twitter to find out which one people would be most interested in. This one came out tops with 37.5% of the votes. In this post I share some of my personal thoughts and experiences that I went through when I was in the beginning stages of thinking about career change, and I ask you the same questions to explore at the end.



I’m not here to tell you the answer or to say go for it and quit your job. We are here to get curious and to explore questions around this topic.


A few years ago I was assuming that it was too late for me to make a total career change and I didn’t even know what I wanted to do. It often seemed easier to bury my head in the sand and to just get on with the job I already had, but the big career questions kept coming back to niggle at me.


I used to get frustrated that I couldn’t just settle in my job like most other people seemed to. I got into a cycle of being ok in my job, then desperately wanting to find something else, hitting a brick wall because I didn’t know what the something else was, then persuading myself to stay with what I already knew. This cycle had a negative impact on my life outside of work because, essentially, I felt lost.


If, like me just a few years ago, you think it might be too late to take a career swerve but you’re still getting those niggles and itches to explore alternative options, then can you spend some time answering these questions?


I’m going to join in by answering them too, then at the end I’ll write a summary of the questions for you. If you can take them away with you to a new place, perhaps on a little adventure somewhere or a nice quiet spot surrounded by nature, then you may find that your thoughts flow easily and openly.


What state are you in most of the time?


I used to live in London and my work involved research and filling in a database. Most of the time I was comfortable but bored. I had a desk with a good view from the 10th floor and I was rarely expected to work overtime. But when I look back I always remember that I used to gaze out of the window wishing for another life. I wanted to be outside more, to work more flexible hours, and to feel really excited about my work. Back then it seemed impossible for me, so I would sit sluggishly at my desk wondering how on earth I could get out. I was in a frozen state of not knowing what I wanted to do or to work towards.


Why do I think it might be too late?


I thought it was too late for me to make any drastic changes in my career because I didn’t like the idea of wasting what I had spent five years working on, or starting again. I had quite high rent to pay and about £4,000 in debt to pay off. I assumed that I would be earning less if I changed my career path, which didn’t seem like a sensible option when I had financial responsibilities. I also had no idea what I would do instead of the work I had chosen since graduating from University. While all of my friends seemed to be enjoying their jobs and settling down, I was floundering in an empty space.


Whose opinions really matter to me?


I was worried about what my parents would think if I changed my career path. I didn’t want them to see that I was still feeling really lost after they had supported me through school, university, and all of my different jobs. When I told people that I wasn’t particularly happy in my job, inevitably the question would be, “well, what would you like to do instead?” and I didn’t have a clear answer.


Am I willing to let other people’s opinions affect my decision-making?


When I did speak to my family and friends about it they were all very supportive. I can’t remember one person trying to persuade me to stay in my job or one particular career path. I made a lot of assumptions about what their opinions might be rather than really knowing what they thought. I was willing to think that other people’s opinions were important, but ultimately I didn’t let it impact my decisions - when I finally reached them.


How much more time am I willing to choose this work?


My career change was a really slow burner. I didn’t just want to jump and fall into another similar job. I was thinking about a change for at least two years before I handed in my notice. I often thought about leaving, but instead I chose to take my time exploring what I wanted to do and then training for it. I used the earnings from my job to facilitate that period of exploration and learning. I remember some days when I felt desperate to get out and I used that to fuel my need to find something else.


What impact is my job having on my life?


I went through many ups and downs with my full-time job. Sometimes it felt like a breeze and I appreciated the financial security that it gave me. At other times I felt stressed and anxious to the point of illness and taking time off work. There was a mixture of positives and negatives over the years. I used to blame my job and work relationships for a lot of things that didn’t seem to be going right in my life, so I really let it get to me sometimes. At the time, my job seemed to be having a bad impact on my life, but in hindsight it was the bigger picture - that I didn’t know what else to do or where else to be.


How can I best describe the career and lifestyle that I imagine for myself?


The main thing that I used to imagine was to have more freedom. I didn’t like the feeling of being watched all of the time and having to sit at my desk for most of the day. I knew that it was my choice to be there, but I daydreamed about having the freedom to go for a walk when I felt like it or spontaneously taking a day off. I imagined meeting new people, collaborating on projects, being more creative and going on adventures.


What’s going to happen if I stay put?


I knew that I couldn’t stay put because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t settle there and I rapidly lost interest in my work as soon as I started to discover new interests. I got bored of listening to myself moaning about my job and not having the answers for what to do instead. I was tired of it all and I knew that staying put would stifle me.


The Questions


  • What state are you in most of the time?

  • Why do I think it might be too late?

  • Whose opinions really matter to me?

  • Am I willing to let other people’s opinions affect my decision-making?

  • How much more time am I willing to choose this work?

  • What impact is my job having on my life?

  • How can I best describe the career and lifestyle that I imagine for myself?

  • What’s going to happen if I stay put?


If you would like to share your answers with me please email sarah@sarahventurer.com


To explore your answers to these questions with me, email me on the above address to ask about a coaching session. I offer flexible pricing to suit your budget so please don’t let money be a barrier.

Thanks for reading my blog post - what do you think? If you’ve found this useful and interesting then please let me know so that I can plan more like this.


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