When you’re a Millennial, there is one thing that seems common to all career advice we get: Don’t be ungrateful. But what if we need to make a career change? Is it okay to want a better job than what you have? Totally, but you also shouldn’t take the decision lightly. Work through the following 7 steps before making that career change:
1. First of all, be very clear about your money.
In Worth It: Your Life, Your Money, Your Terms, Amanda Steinberg describes ignorance about finance as a “money coma” that affects women at a disproportionate rate. One takeaway is: not being knowledgable about finances means we are dependent. When considering a job change, be realistic about what level of income you need to support your lifestyle.
2. Find mentors and role models.
You need to find people who do what you want to do. We live in the age of social media – you can not only see where that person is now, but how they got there. That’s a great guidance because it gives you a road map to what YOU want. Moreover, if you can talk to that person and maybe ask them for advice, you’ll be covering miles in no time!
3. Don’t feel pressured to choose a certain career..
In Western culture, we look up to business owners and self-starters as brave pioneers who go against the grain. It puts a lot of pressure on individuals to do something grand with their career, but don’t buy into it. Don’t feel pressured to leave a “boring” job you love, and also don’t feel obligated to stay in a stressful job because it “looks good.”
4. Figure out what you want, specifically, from your work life.
“Everything” is not a productive answer to that. “More security” or “independent projects” are good characteristics to look for, however. You can see if these are in the cards at your current company (or the company to which you apply) by asking your managers how you can go about it. Pick a job or company that’s going to give you satisfaction.
5. Consider freelancing only if you can set boundaries.
There are lots of misconceptions about “working for yourself,” but this one is crucial: it’s not inherently well-balanced. You have to set boundaries. Regardless of what you do, you need a life that is not all ‘work,’ otherwise, you’ll burn out. When you work for someone else, there are structures in place to keep you from doing that – even if some are more strictly enforced than others. When you freelance, it’s easy to become chained to your laptop 24/7.
6. Figure out if you hate the job itself or just your workplace.
Even non-Millennials are known to change companies if they are in an environment that makes them miserable. On the flip side, it is not unheard of to start a certain job and realize it is not for you (cold-calling, in my case). You need to seriously consider what exactly isn’t working for you currently, and what you need to change to be happy.
7. You are allowed to try different things.
I write fiction and poetry, but I’m also doing a full-time research and teaching job. Some might say I am spreading myself too thin, but I know I am the sort of person who has to see something for herself before she writes it off completely. Maybe you have absolute certainty about what you want from life – if so, I am very jealous of you, please teach me your ways! – but if you do not, it’s okay to give something a go if you have the chance. You won’t be locked into a job forever.
Figuring out your career is not an exact science. Be patient with yourself, and understand that at some point you’re going to take a job you don’t love — and that’s okay. Find a mentor to speak with, learn all that you can about the careers you’re considering, and make an informed decision from there. Just don’t compare yourself to others, because no two paths are identical, and nothing is wrong with either of them.
What’s your best career tip? Tell us in the comments!