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things I learned from transitioning careers

Guys, it’s a long journey. I’m not gonna lie!

Transitioning careers can be exhausting, time-consuming and daunting at times!

But it can also be the single most important reason why you feel good about your life, why you’re happy to get up every day and why you feel like you’re actually making an impact in this world!

I know that because I’ve gone through it twice. Well, actually, the second transition is still on-going as I’m still working in my day job while I’m side-hustling my coaching business.

The first time was when I realized that I didn’t want to become an attorney. Instead, I started working as an in-house lawyer at an insurance company. I quickly realized that this wasn’t the kind of work I wanted to be doing for the next 40 years, either, though. So, I started my second transition towards having my own career transition coaching business.

I’ve learned a ton on the way. And I’d like to share some key takeaways with you so you hopefully get through your career change as smoothly as possible.

So, here are 11 things I learned from transitioning careers.

11 things I learned form transitioning careers – twice

Okay, so here are the 11 most interesting things I learned from changing careers.

What all of them have in common is that it’s all about your mindset! All of these points represent mindset shifts that I had to make to succeed with my career transition.

1. There is something out there you’ll truly enjoy

For the longest time I thought: a job is just a job, it has to pay the bills, it doesn’t have to be fun.

It took me a few years until I was so frustrated with my career journey to finally question this mindset of mine. And once I started exploring, I realized that I’m not bound to pursue a “traditional” career with an office job. There are tons of other options out there!

And I only had to start looking to find something that I truly enjoy on a daily basis.

things I learned from transitioning careers
A job doesn’t have to be boring! There is a profession out there that you’ll truly enjoy.

2. Almost any skill or interest can provide an income

I’m not kidding if I say that there are blogs out there who are making 6 figures by writing about succulents or crochet!

It’s true that some of our interests or passions are difficult to make a living if you’re looking for an ordinary 9-5. But since you’re looking for your dream career, I assume that’s not necessarily what you’re looking for. Or at least it’s not your only option.

If you have something you’re truly passionate about, open your mind to more unconventional careers and you’ll find a way to make it work!

3. Feeling stuck is great

Yep, you’ve read that right.

If you’re feeling stuck in your career journey, you’re probably wondering: what the heck is she talking about?

Well, the first time I had actually questioned my career journey was when I felt stuck on my path to becoming an attorney. I had never questioned that choice all throughout law school.

And only when I realized I hated the kind of work in my first internship at a civil court, did I look up and ask myself the tough questions: “is this what I want to do for the rest of my life?”, “is that the way I’m supposed to feel about my career?”.

So, feeling stuck really opened my mind towards a career that would make me truly fulfilled.

Sometimes, we first need to get stuck for a new path to open up
Sometimes, we first need to get stuck for a new path to open up

4. It’s never too late

I live by the saying: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now!

There’s so much truth in that.

Yes, it would have always been better to make a change earlier. But simply regretting not making that change won’t get you any further, right?

If you go to a nursing home and ask elderly people what they regret about their lives, it’s never that they did a particular thing. What people who are dying regret is not having done something, not having taken the leap, not having gone after their passions.

Take this wisdom and use it for your own journey!

5. Calculated risk is the way to go

I often hear people say: “I can’t just quit my job and pursue my passion. I’ve got bills to pay and I can’t just throw away my education.”

I get it, I thought the exact same way.

Well, what if I told you that’s not necessary?

Look at what I’m doing now: I’m still working 80% in my day job which is more than enough to pay the bills. And it gave me enough freedom to try out different things and to now build up my business.

There’s no need to burn all the bridges straight away. Instead, make sure to build an environment that provides enough monetary safety but also gives you some space to pursue your career transition on the side.

things I learned from transitioning careers
I like to think of calculated risk as a safe way to go down a cliff: you’re not just jumping off, but you’re abseiling, with a strong and safe rope.

6. Make it slow and steady

My second career transition has been taking a few years up until this point. Now, it doesn’t have to take that long, especially if you get some guidance, like through coaching.

But it’s certainly not an overnight thing.

Taking your time with a transition is probably the best thing you can do. You’ll need time to figure out what you really want. You need to try things. And you might even need some financial buffer before you head off in your new career.

7. Leverage your existing skills

I found this useful for my first career transition. I quickly realized that being an in-house lawyer at an insurance company won’t be the thing I’ll do for the next 40 years, either. But it was perfect to make a smooth transition into the thing I really wanted: my own service-based business.

In order to get this “transition job”, I leveraged my existing skills: I’m a lawyer and I pointed out my good grades in the fields of law that were essential in this job. Plus, I’m more or less fluent in 3 languages (I live in the German speaking part of Switzerland but I also speak French). They were in urgent need of someone who speaks both German and French, which made me an ideal fit for the position.

8. There’s no need to go back to school

Initially, I thought: Oh no, I don’t want to waste more time and money to get another degree only to potentially end up in the same place.

Luckily, I soon realized that this isn’t necessary.

With a few exceptions, there are almost always other ways to get into a new field, especially through simply gaining practical experience. Volunteering or freelancing are great places to start.

Volunteering and freelancing are great ways to gain practical experience in a new field
Volunteering and freelancing are great ways to gain practical experience in a new field

9. The internet is your friend

That brings me to my next point: The internet is your friend.

Of course you’ll need to gain new knowledge if you want to change careers. So, Google and Youtube will soon become your best friends.

Self-teaching is a real thing these days. And if that’s not enough, there are tons of courses, bootcamps or seminars online that will give you the extra knowledge to hit the ground running in your desired career field.

10. You need to take action!

You can’t figure it out by figuring it out!

If you really want to make a change, you need to start changing things.

Initially, I got a bit caught up in trying to write business plans for some ideas I had. However, I quickly realized that writing a business plan for a business that required capital that I didn’t have won’t get me anywhere.

So, instead I started selling gymbags on Amazon. That flopped, but at least it got the ball rolling.

11. Have someone to look up to

I only recently realized how important it is to have role models. Ideally, this is someone who can work with you, like a coach or a mentor.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have either. But what still helped me a lot is to follow people on Youtube or read their blogs who are where I want to be . It’s incredibly motivating to see how someone else started from zero and made it up there!

Conclusion

I know this journey can seem endless and hopeless at times. But the only reason you can fail is if you give up.

Along the way, I learned to enjoy the process. I find it incredibly interesting to see in which direction my career transition is taking me next.

And even though I have a clear goal and I know pretty well what I want, I’m still enjoying every part of the way. It’s not like I’m miserable because I haven’t reached my goal, yet. No, I truly enjoy the learning process!

So, keep grinding! You will get there, just take it one step at a time!