Have you ever wondered if you should do something else for work? You can. Of course you can find work that you enjoy.
I’ve made my fair share of career changes, working at a church, a bank, and an interior design company before starting my company, a website design and development agency, specializing in Drupal and e-commerce.
Change isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be too painful either. You can find a way that is best for you. But you will need to seek it out, putting one foot in front of the other.
Every step that I’ve taken in my career was by trying something new. It was incremental. It was saying “Yes,” or “Why not?” to a project or helping someone out. Because let’s face it, when we are looking for direction we often have to stumble around before we find something good.
The last position I had at a bank was a great job, but I was curious and maybe slightly dissatisfied, and I wanted to know if there was anything better suited for me out there in the big beautiful world. So I just talked to people, and I happened to meet a woman at my church who did interior design. She had her own business, and I started asking her questions.
How did she start it, what did she do, what type of clients did she work with, and on I went. And she patiently answered them. Then I asked her about what she was doing, how she was growing the business, what kind of help she needed. It was fascinating. I had no real experience in interior design, nor any design for that matter. As a banker with degrees in English and Theology, there wasn’t much overlap with interior design. I couldn’t tell her how to coordinate colors or talk about accent walls or if that seating filled the space properly. But I was interested and told her I’d love to help if I could. Then she was interested.
And that led to a conversation with her business partner, which led them to ask me to come on as a consultant. They needed help on the business side since she and her partner were artists. Was I the best at it? Probably not. But I was the best person she knew, and I was willing to try. So I did.
It was a small step toward something new. It didn’t require much risk. I just had to ask the bank if it was ok, and they approved it. Never had I worked in a small business. And her business was tiny: There were only four of us in the company. Also, I had never even been a consultant. But I thought, “Why not try?” It wasn’t going to cost me anything except for some time, and they were going to pay me. So I went for it.
Was it scary? Of course. I didn’t want to disappoint them, and I didn’t want to fail. Everything was new, and I had no experience or expertise in any of what I was doing. But to me, it was worth taking that step into an unknown.
One of the best ways to explore new careers is to talk to people. Ask them about their jobs, their story, what they’ve learned. Asking questions is powerful. And it doesn’t cost you anything. Some people think that it shows others that you don’t know something or you can come off ignorant. But that’s silly. If I don’t inquire, I will stay ignorant. It’s better to ask and look ignorant and become knowledgeable than not ask and remain clueless. Who knows, you might even be able to parlay it into a paying gig.
After consulting at the design company for a couple of months, they wanted to up the ante by hiring me full time. That was really scary. That meant I would have to leave my stable career at a stable company to work at a small business that was very unstable. And on top of that, I would need to take a massive pay cut.
But I was unsure about my desire to move forward at the bank either. The job was great; I just didn’t know if it fit me. And the interior design company, although it had its negatives, stirred something in me that I couldn’t quite articulate at the time. All I knew was that I loved the beauty they were creating and all of the possibilities of growth a small business offered. With each passing day, it started to look more like an option worth taking.
There are times in our lives when we need to heed that inner voice, our gut, heart, fairy god-mother, whatever you call it. Sometimes you need to listen to it even when it may not make complete sense. I was leaving a great career path with a good chance to make a lot of money, but something inside of me, my gut or fairy god-mother, prodded me to make a change. I could feel it. And today, I know exactly why I left. It’s clear now, but was far from that then. Starting a small business is in my DNA; I thrive off of the freedom. I just didn’t know that yet. And going to my friends interior design company helped me realize it see my future. I couldn’t see it until I took a step of faith away from the bank into an uncertain future. And as I did, I could slowly begin to see more clearly my destiny.
After I quit the bank and joined them, I started to see a path emerge to becoming an entrepreneur. That job was the stepping stone that I needed to transition into starting my own thing. It framed my mind into understanding that you don’t need to be a massive organization like the bank to be a business. You can be a tiny one like the one I just stepped into.
Maybe you don’t need to become a consultant for some interior design company, but you can talk to people and ask them questions, or you can try new things out like selling something on Amazon, blogging, asking your friends if they need help with X, or the like. Whatever it is, try something new.
You don’t have to settle for a career you don’t enjoy. You’re not stuck. You just haven’t taken any steps. Change can’t happen unless you move to do something different. You don’t need to leap. Start by placing one foot in front of the other.
And you’ll be surprised by where your feet can take you.