Chameleon on branch

Can I start again?

You know what? You don’t have to do the same thing all your working life.

There. I’ve said it.  Things have changed a lot in the past few decades and now, thankfully, you don’t have to worry about a CV, resume or Linkedin profile that isn’t one dimensional in terms of your roles or industries.

Hurrah. Because this is where being independent means you can write rules. Some call it a portfolio career, but whatever you call it, it’s possible to transfer your skills and experience, or learn new possibilities.

Sometimes, change is forced upon us (ask anyone who has experienced redundancy).  But in my experience, that’s always been an important opportunity to rethink, regroup and reinvent myself.  Because if you face facts, you’ll probably accept that things haven’t worked out the way you expected.

I’ve had to change careers and direction several times. Sometimes that’s because I discovered that what I was good at wasn’t necessarily what I thought I was going to be good at, sometimes because I needed to earn some extra money on the side, but usually because I felt that I was trying to fit into a culture that I no longer had an desire to be a part of.

So, if you are going through that particular thought process, then perhaps this short guide will help you along the way.

1.  Don’t let it be about money

‘That’s very easy for you to say, but I really need to get my finances in place’, you might say. And you’d be right. I don’t know what your financial situation is, and I’m not saying that bringing in the bacon isn’t important. What I’m suggesting is that decisions based on how much money you will earn will almost certainly not give you the long-term satisfaction that you need.

Based on experience, I can say with certainty that the decisions to reinvent myself based on the money were never the right decisions.  In fact, the more money I earned, the less happy I was.

So make your decision about how much money is ‘enough’. You are the only person that can answer that.

2. Keep learning and adapting

Who wants to keep doing the same thing, mechanically forever? Getting the balance right between perfecting your craft and learning new ways to do things, and finding new collaborations isn’t easy, but it will give you great satisfaction and you’ll remain in demand.

3. Find yourself a buddy

Unless you talk to other people about their journey and share experience, you will lose confidence in your newly found self.  Most of us are reinventing ourselves, and it’s comforting to know that you aren’t the only one.  You can also swop practical help, whether that’s coaching, or testing your thinking or plans with others. We can help!

4. It takes time

When you’ve been aching for change but stuck in a rut for years, maybe decades, then the desire to be a different person is very strong.  Don’t expect to be completely new and fresh on day one. No matter how hard you try, you will find yourself going back to some old habits, and it will be a while before you build up your new network and fan base.  Expect to grieve for the lost time too.  No one really explains that, but it happens to many of us.

5.  Take the first step today

Even if you just buy the domain name. Or call up an old colleague and ask them if they’d be interested in your plans, or simply spend some time doing some google research on your idea.  You don’t need to have got all your ducks in a row, but it will give you tremendous encouragement.

6.  Expect to go back to the drawing board.

It’s okay to get it wrong. It’s part of the journey. There’s no rush. It means you get better at it.

7. What about your ‘responsibilities’?

Let’s get this one clear.  Your first responsibility is to yourself; otherwise you risk not being able to be responsible for others.  Your significant other presumably wants you to be happy and successful?

It is true to say that involving those close to you on your journey is a double-edged sword. You need them to be encouraging you to take big decisions, but recognise that everyone has their agenda.  You may choose to make that part of your decision making, but don’t let it stop you from doing anything at all.

 

Who is Alex Butler

Hello, I'm Alex Butler and I founded the KindredHQ community and blog back in 2011 after I re-started a freelance career. I LOVE freelancing and I wouldn't swop the freedom, control and joy of working for myself for anything. But I realised how much I missed the company and energy of other people - of having a team around me. So, I got a few people together one day with our laptops, a jar of coffee and some jelly babies and we sat and worked together one afternoon. We've been doing that every week in London, UK since then! I am still 100% freelance and I like to share the everyday highs and lows of being a freelancer here on the blog.

  • Great tips. Changing careers is especially common these days. Candidates should market their “transferable skills” and of course network.

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