How do you know when it’s time to change careers?
Have you ever had a job that you hated? One that made you despise the sound of your alarm clock every morning? One that made you realize your commute on a crowded train with your face buried in some stranger’s armpit was going to probably the best part of your day?
There are some sucky jobs out there. And if you’re like me, you may have come across one so totally sucky, that it made you think about changing careers.
After one particularly soul-destroying experience at a local ad agency, which shall remain nameless, I decided to go meet with an advisor for the Nurses Program at Vancouver Community College. After reviewing the material, programs, and time commitment, I decided that nursing was not the job for me. So I gathered up what self-confidence I had left and got back on the advertising horse.
It’s important to first identify why you want to change careers. Having a bad experience in one job is not a good enough reason. The follow list can help shed some light on whether or not it’s time to make the change.
A career change might be the best move if:
- There are hardly any opportunities for growth in your field.
- You’re bored with the work that you do.
- There are not many jobs in your field or where you live.
- You want to earn more money.
- You should probably upgrade your skills to stay current, but can’t be bothered to make the effort in your current role.
- You feel unfulfilled with the work you do and you feel like you need to ‘do something more with your life’.
- You have a lifelong passion that you want to pursue.
- You have had your eye on a different career path and have been doing the research.
- The career you have now doesnt utilize your talent, skills and education.
- You’ve changed personally since starting your current career and it no longer fits your lifestyle.
- You find your career far too stressful.
I met Shannon Berrow while working at Cossette in Vancouver. She and I worked closely on some large convergent campaigns for about two years. She was great at advertising and direct marketing, but recently I found out she changed careers and now does Holistic Massage & Bodywork at one of my most favorite places, the Scandinavian Spa in Whistler, BC.
I asked Shannon to share her story about how she went from a big agency to working in a spa. This is what she told me;
“I arrived back in the office after backpacking in Thailand for three weeks. I sat down at my desk and picked up a direct mail proof from the printers, and started to look for typos. Right back at it. Nose to the grindstone. Five and a half years of looking for typos in one direct mail campaign after another.
The deadline for this particular direct mail was coming up fast and furious. And it was attached to about a million other things including TV ads, print, promotions… so everything had to launch exactly on-time. That was when my creative director came to me and informed me the client wished to make a change to a particular cloud (yes, a cloud) in a piece of creative that was already at the printers.
That was also when I lost it.
Anger first. Swearing. Lashing out. Then transitioning to tears. And once they started, they did not stop. From what I recall, it took almost an entire day to stop crying.
I’m pretty sure that was what they call a breakdown.
I informed my Client Services Director that I would be leaving soon and that he should probably start looking for my replacement. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
That got the ball rolling, and five weeks later I had submitted my resignation and acquired a 1-year working VISA in Australia.
I was off. I took the year to travel solo. Reflect. And dream. I focused on figuring out who I was. What I was really good at and what I could imagine myself doing for the rest of my life. It wasn’t marketing. I knew I had always wanted to have my own business, but after trying my hand at catering, quickly realized that was not the course for me.
Back in Vancouver, I was planning for another trip. Europe this time. But right before I left, I had interviewed at a massage school for a Spa Therapy Program. Why not, right? I had remembered that when I was a kid, I would give my mom foot massages and used to think that I would make a pretty stellar massage therapist. And coming from advertising, I decided this next career would help me to make a difference in people’s lives.
Through my travels, I fell madly in love with practicing yoga. I became in-tune with spirit, and opened up to the idea that there was more to life than what you can touch or see with your eyes. So I paid attention, listed for signs and followed my intuition. And in January 2011, I found myself in an accelerated/condensed massage and bodywork program. And I knew it was the right thing for me.
After I graduated, I went to Santorini, Greece to massage on the beach for 3-months. And when I came back, I ended up at the Scandinavian Spa in gorgeous Whistler BC. Changing careers allowed me to discover more about myself. To travel. To live life on my own terms. Taking a chance has paid off for me. And where to from here? Who knows, the sky is the limit.“
Not all chances pay off, but as Shannon’s story proves; with hard work, dedication and a little bit of luck, finding the perfect career is really possible.