How to Discover Your True Career Path and Find the Courage to Change Careers

If you’re struggling with the decision to change careers, you’re not alone. We’ve got you covered with creative ideas to help ensure success.

It happens to too many people.

We grow up dreaming of what we’d like to be when we grow up, but when we actually come of age and understand we need to pay bills and balance life challenges, questions like Will I still be paying for my education when I’m 40 years old? become part of the equation.


Some of us make a career decision out of necessity.


Or out of what we believe is possible for us considering the environment we grew up in and the people that surround us.


Others choose a path they’ve dreamed of for years, only to realize the day-to-day life in this career isn’t that great after all.


Either way, many of us find ourselves at different points in our lives wondering if it’s always going to be like this.


The good news is it doesn’t have to be.


How to Discover Your True Career Path


The first step toward changing your life for the better begins at discovering your true career path. And, let’s be honest, this is much easier said than done.


If you’re unhappy with your current career, chances are you’re pretty clear about what doesn’t work – but still, that doesn’t mean you know what will.


It’s important to understand it’s a process that might take time to figure out.  But, you can start by exploring your childhood dreams and current passions and then think of other life goals you might have – from monetary goals to family goals, through work-life balance goals all the way to the legacy you’d like to leave in the world.


Go through university programs and job boards to see if there’s a way to turn all that into a career. For example, if you love coding, that’s easy to do.


But even if your passions don’t seem to directly align with a financially sustainable career, for example, all is not lost. Check out these 9 strategies we outlined to simplify career choice, including what to do if you’re only passionate about niches that supposedly don’t generate sustainable incomes.


How to Find the Courage to Change Careers


Now that you’ve figured out what career you’d like to pursue, how do you find the courage to actually do it?


Brainstorm What Skills and Experience in Your Current Career Give You an Unfair Advantage as a Newbie in Your Next Career


This might not be obvious at first, but give yourself time to dig below the surface.


Check out Jeremy’s story, for example.


According to Johnston’s Law’s official website, Jeremy Johnston “was a civil litigator handling a high volume of cases and representing a wide variety of clients ranging from individuals to Fortune 500 companies.” In 2014, he started uploading daily vlogs to YouTube with his wife, Kendra.


At the time of writing this article in early 2018, their family YouTube channel, J House Vlogs, has over 1.3 million subscribers and over 992 million views, and their channel is now a business of its own.


In a 2017 interview with Video Influencers, Jeremy revealed the unexpected way his law career helped him grow exponentially on YouTube.


“I loved practicing [law],” he said. “It forces you to dig deep into research, to find the answer to a problem, and then present it in a way that makes sense to anybody.”


Besides sharpening his storytelling skills and leveraging them on YouTube, Jeremy shared that his ability to dig into data helped him dig into YouTube analytics (a part of YouTube that gives channel owners a lot of information about when and how viewers watch their videos), analyze why things didn’t work (for example, he discovered that his audience stopped watching when he and his wife just sat and talked to the camera instead of showing the family in action), and improve as he went.


That’s something that many YouTube creators might consider boring, but Jeremy was skilled at turning what the data says into good storytelling from his days at court. “When you’re doing that every month, you’re constantly refining toward the audience,” he added in the interview.


Now that he’s grown a business on YouTube, Jeremy has seen the need for fellow YouTube creators to get legal help as they deal with brand sponsors and create their own products. Therefore, he’s now combining his toolkit from two careers to offer legal advice and services to other professional YouTubers.


Figure Out the Finances of Changing Careers


If you expect to be earning more in your next career, the switch might feel less scary. But sometimes we make choices that fulfill us internally, and might not be as financially rewarding as a job we hate.


If that’s the case for you, consider what adjustments you can make in your budget to accommodate that, and see if it’s worth it to you. For some people, the ability to take a vacation once a year or drive a car instead of taking the bus comes first, while others prefer to scale down their expenses for other priorities.


Alternatively, if the new career requires fewer work hours, perhaps you can take another job on the side to supplement your income.


Another option is to consider moving to a more affordable location. Even if you earn the same salary, a more affordable location will feel like a raise.


On the other hand, if you do get a raise thanks to a career change, but it requires you to move to a more expensive location, get back to budget planning and see how you can make it work financially.


Figure How Changing Careers Will Impact Your Time Management


When we think of making a career change, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the many aspects of going back to school as an adult. One of the key fears we see usually revolves around time management.


That’s especially true if you’ve got to keep working to pay the bills or have a family that needs your time.


Besides becoming a master in time management, it’s important to decide what cost you’re willing to pay and to consider flexible education options, like an online university, where you can decide your own schedule.


But we recommend thinking beyond college, too. Consider whether your new career will give you extra free time, or tighten the demands on your already busy life. Consider that the first few years might be more intense as you build yourself up professionally.


A busier schedule doesn’t necessarily mean the career change isn’t worth it. On the contrary – sometimes it’s easier to work long hours doing something you love than short hours doing something that doesn’t fulfill you.


But either way, doing the research ahead of time will help you prepare a game plan, so you can pursue a career change without getting overwhelmed.


Start Your New Career on the Side


Instead of starting an entirely new degree program right away, take a course or read some books about the program to figure out if you really want to pursue it full-time. Pursuing an undergraduate certificate program can also be a potentially beneficial option for those who do not wish to enroll in a full-fledged degree program. 


You could also start building a professional network before you take the plunge, so you’ll have who to ask for tips and referrals when it’s time to make the switch. This article about how to network on social media could be relevant for you, even if you’re still a student or haven’t started studying toward your new career yet.


Of course, another option is to just do a project in the industry on your own time. Do a project for yourself, freelance for another company, or even do a part-time internship for free to see what your desired profession looks like from the inside.


You’ll be able to gain experience and recommendations before you even start your new career.


The Secret to Making a Career Change Work


Every profession and industry have their own growth strategies you’ll need to discover as you go, but no matter which profession you choose, making changes in your life, especially at this scale, takes courage.


What makes it easier to keep going, even through the challenges of a big change like this one, is to get really clear on why you’re doing it.


Who do you want to be in 10 years? What’s a burning desire you have inside you that you need to find a way to express? What can your soul no longer take in your current path? What does your professional life need to provide for you so you can make other dreams, like providing for your family, work? What legacy do you want to leave in the world?


Start brainstorming the answers to these questions, and write everything down, so when things get challenging or scary, you can look at it and find the courage to take another step forward.


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