Let's not lie to each other here - we've all thought about it. We've pondered, searched, peeked about in the dark, yet most of us remain quiet and remain stagnant at the insecurity of venturing into something we feel we have not invested ourselves in.
I have always associated my career with who I am. I label myself one thing, therefore it becomes part of my identity. The reality is that our profession and who we are are entirely different.
The below is my personal experience that led to my journey into the unknown. You may not all experience all aspects as I have done; but I know this is an area that that is not discussed often enough here on LinkedIn - health and well-being, as opposed to strength and being a tough leader. Read on if you dare to challenge yourself.
"The average person will change careers 5-7 times during their working life according to career change statistics."
Credit: Careers Advice Online
Times have changed and our careers are not always guaranteed. I'm not going to focus on the guarantee of career security though - my angle is looking at what was the catalyst to my urgent change - my physical and mental health.
I was invested. I studied in my field and pulled 3-4 part-time jobs whilst studying to pay off debts and I dove head-first into the industry that I was convinced was ''me''. I spent the last 15 years climbing the ladder to where I am. Within the last year, however, not one month has passed me by where I questioned where I could transfer my skills and abilities to.
A few months ago I was hospitalised whilst on the job and I was confused about what had happened to me. My palms were sweaty, my heartbeat was faster than usual (and offbeat), I was light headed and before I knew it I was sitting in front of a doctor in ER and he asked me a few simple questions: "When did you last eat?'', ''Have you had enough sleep'', and ''When was your last day off work". I realised that I hadn't had breakfast or lunch, that I was on a week of 10 days straight and that my sleep was horrible; whilst on a diet of one-too-many coffees with no food. Talk about a wake-up call. He proceeded to explain that this was a classic case of anxiety. I was shocked. I had no idea that I would ever suffer from such a thing. But having stepped back and looked at how my body was being treated, it all made sense.
It was through this reflection that I came to realise that I had to look after myself first. I went back to work a few days later and returned with a revived spirit. I knew that I needed to work through this and plan my next career move. I was inspired as I wanted to plan a few months ahead so that I could secure my new direction and leave my existing role with sufficient notice.
Two days later I was made redundant. My first reaction was that my world had turned in on itself.
As I walked home that day, I realised that it was a blessing in disguise. I was handed an opportunity to kick-start my health plan and step away from the downward spiral that was leading me to this unhappy and unhealthy place. At first, I thought ''I must get back on the job boards and start looking for work in my industry''. But I soon realised that it made me unhappy even thinking about it.
I spoke to a good friend the following week and he shared his own career-shifting experience that resonates to the core. And this quote sums it up:
It's funny how we don't think that we are giving off such vibes, but this friend stated to me that it was apparent that I had been unhappy in my career for several years! He also was the one to tell me not to fear the identity crisis that comes with the prospect of changing careers. The best advice I had heard in years. I must say that I greatly admire the courage in this friend of mine. A few years ago he changed careers at the age of 35 from banking to journalism, took a pay-cut of 75%, rented out his spare room to make ends meet and went back to university with kids in their early 20's. He has never been happier.
So here I am, "new year new me". I have so much to offer it's ridiculous. And why should I be worried anyway? I'm 15 years into a career that I have grown to dislike and I have 30-odd years of work ahead of me. I sure as hell am not planning on being miserable for the rest of my life!
I have been an adventurous character since day one, however, my two identities of personal v professional were not synced in this way.
It's time to start being adventurous in my professional self and I recommend those that feel and understand the above life experience to challenge yourselves.
Cover Source: Unsplash