December 13, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized0013
I know someone who works in local government but wants to be a historian. I know someone who works in science but wants to be an author. I know another scientist who would like to be a photographer.
Like most people, they don’t change. They don’t change what they do for a number of reasons. Some are practical, some are emotional. I’d wager that the majority of people out there are not in the career they want to be in. I’m sure all of them can justify to other people, and themselves why they shouldn’t change their career, even though deep down they know they have the wrong one.
Few of us have grand plans for what we want to do with our lives aged 16 (when many people make educational choices that will determine teir future careers). I wanted to be a special effects cameraman, Then a heavy metal guitar hero. Then a computer games designer.
I ended up working as a boat builder, for no more illustrious reason that I happened to be sat next to a kid at college who worked there at weekends and we became friends. I’m sure some of you reading this have ‘fallen into’ a career that way, and it’s never one you would have chosen as your life’s goal, back then, let alone right now.
Of all the reasons to change, the most depressing one is the fact that it would mean a drop in your standard of living in the short term. “I get good money as a senior cubicle sweeper, why would I quit it to be a lowly paid actor doing bit parts in daytime TV?” sounds very reasonable in the short term (and assuming you won’t actually be a successful actor), but when it comes to career, thinking short term is madness. So it might take you five years or ten years to get back to where you are now in your new career, don’t you owe it to yourself to make the best of your life? Do you really want to be sat there aged 50 wishing you’d given it a go?
I quit my boat-building job and was unemployed for eight months, doing the odd manual job when it showed up. Eventually I got a job as an IT hardware engineer for £11k a year. it was hell. Within a year I had a better job for a company in the city for £16. they promoted me to about £22 as I recall. After 2 years I left there to work for an IT training company for £30k, then eventually (after doing an MCSE in my spare time) I got a job as an IT consultant for £48 then £55k. Things were suddenly much better than they would ever have been building boats.
After getting fed up with all that I changed careers again, having taught myself C++ from mail order courses and evening classes. I got a job at Elixir for about half my IT consultant salary.
Then after 2 years I went to lionhead and earned a bit more, then got a bit more. Then I effectively changed career again to run positech and effectively halved my salary again.
Now I work for myself, and I’ve climbed back to where I was before, only this time I have my dream job and no boss. From boat-builder to computer game designer took me twenty years and 3 career changes. It’s not exactly easy.
But it can be done. And if you are sat there thinking your dream job is far too removed from what you do, remember that you read the blog of a guy who used to nail boats together all day and now programs computer games. If I can make that career change, you can make yours.