How to Survive a Wrong Career Choice

For as long as you could remember you always wanted to be a teacher. You studied to become one. You became one. Then one day you got the feeling that you made the wrong career choice. It doesn’t bring you as much joy as it used to. At first you think you’re just stuck in a little rut. Everyone gets stuck from time to time, right? But days turn into weeks and you soon realize you’ve made the wrong career choice.

Where do you go from here?

The first step is not to panic. You’re not the first one this has happened to and you certainly won’t be the last. Sometimes it can be frightening to realize you won’t be doing what you always thought you would be for the rest of your life. That’s why it’s important to first identify what you want to do with your life now. Maybe there’s a hobby that you’ve always loved and now you want to see if you can make a career out of it. Perhaps you want to give a try at starting a new business. Taking the leap to entrepreneurship can be exciting, scary, and rewarding at the same time.

Once you’ve identified what you want to do with your life, it’s time to figure out how to go about making it a reality. For some of us that could mean going back to school.

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More and more Americans are doing it. By 2020, it’s estimated that 43% of all undergraduate and graduate students will be ages 25 and older. You also need to determine if any of your current skills can be applied to your desired new career. Just because you’re changing careers doesn’t mean your current skills are irrelevant. There are many skills that cross over.

Another tip to surviving a wrong career choice is by networking. Visiting your college roots or the area where you grew up could spark new career leads. Sometimes you find jobs where you least expect them. Sometimes it’s even a case of someone knowing someone else who can help you get in that right job.

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The point is don’t be afraid to tell people you are switching careers and are looking for help. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

As much as you may want to jump ship to your new career faster than you can say “I quit” you need to first set yourself up financially. This may mean sucking it up and staying in the job you no longer love until you can afford to quit. Not doing so will make the transition more stressful than it needs to be. Having a bit of a rainy day fund or an “I’m looking for another job” fund should be on your to-do list as you switch careers.

While you are making the switch it may also be helpful to find others who have done the same thing. Since they made it through, they will also have valuable tips to help you survive. Having confidence that you will succeed will help you through it immensely. In the end remember, life is too short to be stuck in a job you completely hate. While making the switch can be scary, your happiness and sanity are most important.