Does It Take Too Long To Change Careers?
Does it take too long to change careers or to start a new business? (Episode 6)
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What’s This Episode About?
Do you feel stuck because you worry it will take too long to change careers or start your own business?
Many people over 35 overestimate the risks of making a change whilst totally underestimating (or ignoring) the costs of staying stuck. So they remain stuck in jobs and careers they’ve totally outgrown and might even hate. Not realising they are already wasting their precious time and potential.
How we view time and what we believe is worth doing (or not) to change a work scenario we are not happy with will directly impact how future-proof we are.
Since we will be working for more years than any other generation, you might want to revisit how YOU view time. Especially if you no longer want your work life to be dictated by the line of work you might have fallen into after university!
Episode 6: Does It Take Too Long To Change Careers?
Intro: Welcome to The Career Change Podcast where you’ll discover the frank and practical advice and resources that are already proven to work in the real world when it comes to changing careers, or figuring out what business is right for you when you are a smart, but likely also stuck, overwhelmed or overthinking person in your mid 30s, your 40s to your mid50s.
I’m your host Rikke Hansen, a Career Change Advisor, entrepreneur, and former corporate HR professional with over 15 years experience of helping thousands of people just like you identify or create careers or businesses that are both meaningful and future proof. Welcome home!
Hey, it’s Rikke here – Welcome to Episode 6, which is going to be all about your relationship with time. And with answering the question – or talking about the question – does it take too long to change careers or establish a new business?
This particular episode is very much for you, if you’ve been in the same profession or business or line of work for years, and you might also have obtained certain qualifications or be known for having a public track record that you’ve paid for with blood and sweat and tears.
So that even if you don’t like doing it anymore, you’re not happy there anymore, the idea of transitioning into something new can just seem daunting, or maybe even unrealistic, right?
Especially once you’re past 35, or 45, or 50. And you’ve already committed a lot of time and maybe also a big part of your ego, or your identity into your line of work.
So I totally understand where the question “Does it take too long to change careers or establish new business?” comes from.
You might also have this idea that since you’ve already spent so much time and so many years on your current path – by the way, Google the term “Sunk Cost Fallacy” – then even if you don’t like what you’re doing right now, you’ve invested so much time already that changing it can seem like such an enormous, unrealistic task.
And then you might also be put off by all those bright young things who are already doing what you want to move into doing. And they’re all really good at it and they look fantastic on Instagram and then you might just feel deflated and not confident enough…
So if I’m inside of your head right now, you are absolutely in the right place!
But you know what, let me be really direct with you here.
Even if it’s totally understandable why you might think like this, everything we just talked about, it’s increasingly becoming a highly out-dated and unhelpful way of approaching the world of work and your place in it.
Especially since you are actually wanting to leave your current line of work behind!
So let’s turn this into motivational fuel instead of having it keep you stuck.
In this new world of work – and this is so important to be aware of – none of us can afford to get too attached to any one professional identity for too long.
We must all focus on on-going, lifelong learning and continual adaptation in our work.
We are all going to have to change and keep on changing and keep learning new things in our work in some capacity over the coming days and months and years.
And change in the world of work is just gonna speed up massively.
The changes you’re seeing now are the slowest you’ll see in your lifetime – buckle up – it’s just gonna speed up from here!
(That’s a good thing for you – use it to fuel you!).
Parts of your current job or business – the one you don’t like anymore, the one you might even hate – might be outsourced to AI, it might be replaced by someone cheaper or smarter, it might even cease to exist, you might be downsized or made redundant, your company might see demand evaporate overnight.
The speed of change in the working world will never be slower than it is right now.
We need to buckle up.
And we need to get exceptionally good at adapting to a work life of a variety of jobs and businesses and collaborations, no matter what it takes.
And we’re going to have to focus on developing our ability to keep adapting, and keep developing new ways of working.
To think that you’re just going to to stay stuck here in this thing you don’t like because the devil you know, right?
That attitude, like we just talked about at the beginning of this, that attitude might have worked 20 years ago, but now it’s just an outdated way of looking at things!
This is something I’ll talk a lot about in the coming episodes, about the future work, which is already here.
But I wanted to make that clear right up front and get that out of the way.
Because even though I absolutely understand where you’re coming from when you’re asking “Does it take too long to change?” – I want to point out right up front that question itself reveals to me that your way of thinking about yourself and your place in the working world is due an overhaul.
You’re not untouchable. So don’t stay where you hate being and think you’re safe. You are not.
An on-going theme in this podcast is to help you thrive and adapt and to feel at home in this new world of work.
So instead of thinking you don’t have a choice, think about creating choices.
That is the way forward.
With that off my chest, I’m going to get off my high horse.
What I want to do with you now is to take you through a process that I often take my clients through, if they dare to ask that question about “Does it take too long to change careers?”
Once I’ve given them my future work speech, that you just heard, then we get practical. So let’s get really practical.
What I want to do here is help you think about this question – “Does it take too long to change careers?” – in a way that challenges how you view the world and how you view time, but also motivates you to actually get going.
Right up front, if you are new to my style, this will be very frank and direct, but incredibly heartfelt.
And you will experience a much deeper level of motivation and focus after this episode, I can promise you, there will be no fluff here. It’s all stuff you can use.
So we’ll talk about three things. And this is pretty much a three-step process that I also take my clients through when they’re worried about it taking too long.
First of all, we’re gonna talk about the question “How are you already using your time?”
We’re gonna assess how are you already using the time allocated to work in your life.
Secondly, we’re going to talk about how we can reframe how you view time in such a way that it’s actually going to motivate you.
Thirdly, we’re going to start talking about how you can start investing in your future self, now.
You’ll also discover that most people, they’re actually living a life that was kind of dictated by the person they were there when they were 24.
But what I recommend is that you are a lot more motivated by your future self instead.
Concretely, your future self, the person you will be in the future.
All right, so let’s get cracking!
#1 How Are You Already Using Your Time?
Let me ask you:
Are you happy with the way you’re already using your time?
Or are you actually wasting it?
You might be worried that changing careers is going to take too long, but are you actually ALREADY wasting your time now?
If someone asks me “Does it take too long to change careers or start a new business?” then I’m curious about what they’re already using the time for, and how they feel about that.
So I want to ask you that question right now.
I also want you to ask yourself this question:
Am I happy with the way I’m currently using the time allocated to work in my life?
Are you actually enjoying it?
Does it feel like a good use of time for you?
Does it feel like you are challenged and stretched intellectually, creatively and socially?
Do you actually care about the subject so you can keep learning more and more?
Do you like the people, your manager and your clients?
Do you feel like you’re not growing?
You’re not achieving?
You’re not reaching your potential?
You don’t care about the subject?
You don’t see yourself there in the future?
You definitely don’t want your boss’ job?
Here’s why I’m asking and why I want you to really take some time to think about this.
(Note: You might want to do that by journaling or bullet point writing or by talking out loud with a friend, i.e. whatever works for you).
If you are currently staying stuck in a job or work scenario that you hate or don’t enjoy, because you think it takes too long too change careers and start a business.
Then all you are already doing is taking all that time that you could have spent creating or start creating your business or transitioning into something new.
But instead you are currently using it to creating more of what you DON’T want!
If you are staying stuck in a job career right now that you really do not enjoy, then you are ALREADY wasting your time.
Or at least you’re not using it to intentionally create something better.
Tough Love. I told you I was gonna call a spade a spade ;)
I really want to talk about the fact that you are already wasting your time.
Often when people remain stuck in careers or businesses they hate, it’s because they have this tendency to look at all the things they stand to lose or risk, if they move ahead with their career change plans.
Instead of focusing on what they actually stand to gain.
That was my issue too for years back when I was stuck in a corporate job. You know, I was so worried about throwing away all this stuff and identity that I had work so hard for.
Whenever I had a good idea for a business or a career change, I would give myself so many reasons why it wouldn’t work and why it was scary or dangerous, and then end up staying stuck!
And this is the behaviour I’ve noticed in a lot of my clients too:
We’re really good at talking ourselves out of our best ideas by focusing on all the risks and worries and on not wanting to start from scratch.
So we forget to look at the much higher cost and waste of time that it actually is to stay stuck in something we’ve outgrown, that we might even hate.
If your answer to the question “Are you happy with the way you currently spend the time allocated to work” is “YES – I’m happy with how I spend my time” – Good for ya! You do not need to listen to the rest of this podcast.
However, if your question is “No, I’m not happy with the way I spend the time allocated to work!”, then keep listening!
Let’s reframe the question and call a spade a spade.
If you are not happy with the way you currently spend your time, then the best question to ask to actually help you move on is not whether it takes too long to change careers or to start your own business.
The real question that I recommend you think about is this
WHEN are you going to stop wasting your freaking time, creating more of what you don’t want?
When you think about it like that, it really emphasizes the compound cost of staying stuck.
Let’s take it a little bit deeper.
How long have you ALREADY wasted your time?
Just think about that for a moment.
You probably haven’t just wanted to change careers for like a day or for 6 months. If you’re like a lot of people coming my way, you’ve probably wanted to change careers or start your own business for 12 months or 3 years or 5 years or 10 years.
But you still haven’t done anything consistently to make that change happen, would that be right to say?
But here’s the issue.
Think about all that valuable time that has already passed.
It’s gone forever.
Just imagine how you could have invested in all of that time differently.
So the question now becomes:
WHEN are you going to start investing your time differently?
There’s a really beautiful quote by Earl Nightingale and it says:
“Never give up on your dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. Time will pass anyway.”
Right? So you might as well use it wisely. That takes us into point number 2.
#2 Reframe Your Relationship With Time
Now, as I said before, I totally get that transitioning into something new can seem really time intensive and daunting.
And often life events, whether it’s a pandemic or an election, whatever it is, take your pick in the candy shop of modern life, can often leave us feeling powerless and exhausted.
So what I’ve found with my career and business transition clients over the years is that helping them reframe how they view time – and their relationship with time – is one of the fastest and most powerful ways to make you feel in charge and energize and to actually get cracking.
Here is how I suggest that you start (re)defining or viewing time as it pertains to your career change, or to the business you want to start:
Time is the currency for creating your dreams.
Or for creating more of what you don’t want.
Time spent investing in your dreams, whether that’s your ideal business or your ideal career, is always time well spent.
I want you to start using and viewing time as a currency that you can choose to invest or spend or waste.
That you can choose to invest in creating your dreams, or waste on creating more of what you don’t want.
When you look at it this way, suddenly you realise how much power you might have been given away until now. Let’s get you right back in the driving seat.
My biggest mission in the work I do is to empower smart, but overthinking, overwhelmed people over 35 take their power back and start creating something much better with their time going forward!
Important: It might be that right now, you only have a couple of hours here and there that you can start investing in your career change.
But have you ever heard of compound interest?
Just start with those couple of hours a week – but you consistently dedicate them – and then you add more time over time.
But now you know WHY you are investing and WHAT you are working towards creating.
It’s a little bit like if you know you want to buy a house or you want to go to Japan or something like that, then you are a lot more likely to save and invest your money for that, because you know what it is you’re investing in creating and experiencing. Versus wasting time on all kinds of fluffy crap that you really don’t need.
Remember –Choose to invest your time in creating your dreams or – by default – waste it on creating more of what you don’t want.
Remember that next time you choose Netflix over working on your new business.
And like I said, it might be that right now you don’t have a lot of time you can dedicate. But if you actually look at how you spend your time, I can guarantee you – pretty much no matter who you are – you are able to carve out more time.
Especially when you start looking at it like a currency for creating your dreams.
Time is actually pretty agnostic when you think about it.
So it’s up for us – to you and me – to assign meaning to it.
One of my favourite writers is the former entrepreneur and musician Derek Severs. I recently read this quote from him:
“Whatever makes you take the necessary action is the perspective that helps you.
I’m trying to make decisions usually based on finding the perspective that helps me take actions.”
I love that.
What is this perspective YOU can have on time that is going to help you take action?
I suggest you view time as a currency you can use to invest or spend or waste.
That way of looking at time is going to motivate you to take action towards creating your career change or own business.
Because when you faff about rather than do what you’d promised yourself you’d do, you realise all you’re doing is creating more what you don’t want and you’re wasting your time.
Versus when you actually build your confidence by doing what you’d promised yourself you’d do, you’re building your dreams, and that is always time well invested.
Remember, the longer you stay stuck in that unhappy scenario you’re in right now, the longer you’re just going to create more and more and more of what you don’t want.
That, my friend, is what you should really worry about!
So the question is not whether it’s going to take too long for you to change.
The real question is, when are you going to stop wasting your time, creating more what you don’t want?
When are you going to start investing your time in creating something better?
When are you going to start replacing wasted moments with invested moments?
A lot of the clients coming my way really want to start their own business.
And if that’s you too, here’s the deal.
How many years have you already wanted to start your own business?
And meanwhile, how many years have you actually wasted working on building someone else’s dreams?
You’re probably really good at what you’re doing. That’s part of the reason why you want to start your own business.
But instead, because you think it takes too long or you are too scared to start your own thing – right now you are having your boss taking credit for all of your work. Or making all of the money you could have been making.
Are they working you like a dog and meanwhile they’re getting all the benefits?
I totally get where you are at. You know, this is the case for most of my clients.
I also remember back when I worked in HR for American investment banks here in in London, I was always the hardest worker.
If you wanted something done you gave it to Rikke because she was a safe pair of hands and would get it done (sounds familiar?).
I worked all hours of the day and I made all my managers look so bloody good.
That was the main reason why I want to start my own business. I worked really hard. I was good at it.
If you would love to start your own business –What’s really the worst that could happen if you’re really bloody good at what you do?
Worst case scenario – your first business does not work out – You’ll get hired by someone else whilst you build your second one!
All right. Get your butt in gear my friend.
Does this ring a bell?
I bet I’m inside your head right because I know what it feels like.
And more importantly, I can help you.
Furthermore, how you invest your time now to a very large extent decides and dictates who you are becoming.
That future self you’re going to be at 45 or 65 or 75 years old, when you will still be working.
Because the way the world is going, we will be working for so many more years that we can all imagine.
So let’s find something we love doing. Right?
However, when people think about a career change or starting a new business, they’re often looking backwards to all of the time they’ve already put it into their current line of work, i.e. sunk cost that they’ll never recover anyway!
Interestingly, for a lot of people who are right now in a career they don’t enjoy, it’s probably a career that was decided by their 24 year old self after s/he left University and kind of fell into their current line of work.
So your life right now – that you might not even enjoy at work – it’s being dictated by a 24 year old.
Stop looking backwards and instead focus on what kind of person you are now and who you want to be in the future, say at 75.
#3 Start Investing In Your Future Self
Your future self is literally the person you are going to be in the future, just so we’re clear about that.
Let me ask you, what kind of person do you want to be?
Character-wise? Mentally and physically? Health-wise?
What kind of work do you want to be doing in 10 years time?
Or in 30 years time?
When you will likely still be working.
Who you will become is really decided by the kind of work you do today.
And going forward.
So what time investments and time decisions are you going to make starting from now on?
Now that we’re talking about this whole currency way of looking at it:
Do you want to start getting serious about investing in your 75 year old self?
Or even in your 40, 50, 60 year old self?
Rather than rehashing and keep wasting your time on a decision you somehow made at 24?
This something I will bang my drum on and on about – People looking backwards at the sunk cost, rather than looking forwards as to how they want to start investing in their future self instead.
I’m not gonna go into details, but a quick exercise that I’ve found to be really helpful for decision making when it comes to career transition is negative visualization or negative future pacing.
So whether you are a visual person or you are someone who prefers to write things down, it really helps to do this.
The Negative Visualisation / Negative Future Pacing Exercise
(i.e. The Cost Of Staying List!)
If you have a tendency to mainly focus on what you stand to loose by changing careers or you have a tendency to overestimate the cost of changing and underestimating the cost of staying stuck in a job/career you hate (which is what most people do) – Negative visualisation / Negative future pacing is the perfect exercise for you.
So what I want you to do, and this is literally what I make my clients do when they find this really hard.
Write a list of the cost of staying.
One of my clients actually called this exercise the “Groundhog Day Meditation”!
Here’s what I want you to do:
I want you to imagine you decide it’s gonna take too long to change.
So you are going to stay in the job / career you are in right now.
I want you to future-pace yourself workwise now:
If you decide to stay:
Who are you going to be?
How are you going to feel?
How is work going to impact you mental health?
Your physical health?
IF you were to continue doing the same work again and again – in 6 months time you‘re still there, in 10 years time you’re still there, in 20 years time you’re still there.
Just visualise that Groundhog day.
Same line of work, same kind of client, same kind of boss, same kind of politics.
How is that negatively impacting (potentially) every area of your life?
What is it doing to your potential?
Your relationship with yourself?
Your mental health?
Your physical health?
You’re likely already paying a cost now, but I really want you to visualise – Almost like Groundhog Day, what it’s going to be like if you stay there 6 months out, 10 years out, 20 years out.
Write down the negative effect that’s going to have on you.
Don’t spend too long doing it, but just get really, really concrete.
You are probably already are paying the cost. So start there.
I find this kind of negative visualization / negative future pacing can be really helpful for people.
Often if you ask people to write out their ideal day or write about where they want to be in 10 years, most people go blank.
So what’s often really helpful is to make people instead do something they really know how to do, which is focusing on the negative!
Several of my clients have actually turned this negative visualization exercise into a “Cost Of Staying Stuck List” which they keep handy to motivate them to move on.
This should really help you think about the fact that the choices you make now matter.
Let’s be forward looking. It really helps you to think about the choices you make, starting now and every day from now on.
How you choose to invest your time – or not – will impact who you will be and how you will feel in the future.
Not just on a professional level, but on every single level of your life.
I’ll tell you something that personally motivates me more than almost anything that I can think of every day. And especially when I’m about to make a decision. I ask myself:
How can I invest in my 75 year old self’s health and genius today?
That is so powerful because it helps you realize that everything you do from now on, if that’s when you start to actually invest your time, is going to make life so much better for that amazing person you will be in the future.
When you look at it from the perspective of your future self, every single decision that you make is going to impact that.
That’s when you truly realise what is actually at stake here.
Use your time investments wisely!
And yes, it will take time.
But it’s time spent creating your dreams that you’re going to spend now, and that’s always a worthwhile investment.
So the question is not whether it takes too long to change, but rather when are you are going to start investing your time differently?!
If you are not happy with the way you’re currently spending or wasting your time – then I recommend you start viewing time as the currency for creating your dreams or for creating more of what you don’t want.
Start investing your valuable currency in creating your future self.
Take your power back now.
Realise just how much it actually matters how you invest your time.
No matter how small the deposits might be initially, make the compound interest work for you.
Be more driven and motivated by who you are right now and by who you want to become.
Rather than by who you were at 24 (that’s still keeping you stuck now).
Keep learning and keep adapting as if your career and work life depended on it – Because it does!
This how your time becomes an investment.
I trust this episode really fired you up to go for it?
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The world needs us to create our dreams. And there has never been a better time than now.
“Don’t give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. Time will pass anyway.”
Use YOUR time to create something much better than what you currently have.
I’m right there with you.
I’ll see you over at TheCareerChangePodcast.com.