When is a good time to make a jump (in your career)?
Ten months ago I quit my job. It was good paying job with benefits, lots of vacation time and a short commute to work. I had moved across the country to take this job (in honesty, I had taken the job to move across the country). And I had only been in the role for two years.
A lot of my friends and coworkers wondered why I quit. Wasn’t I worried about losing my pension (no)? Why would I give up a regular salary to be self-employed, having to hustle to get work? Wasn’t I afraid about how I could support my family? Why did I leave?
Because it wasn’t my passion.
Follow your passion
Here’s the thing. I’ve always been big on following my passion. And as I evolve as a person, my passion also evolves and changes.
Early in my career, my passion was climbing the corporate ladder. I was a newspaper editor at 25, and manager of a communications for one of Canada’s largest cities at 30. I don’t say this to brag, but rather to illustrate how focused I was on that accomplishment.
During this laser focused period I got divorced, moved cities, lost a lot of weight (not in a good way) and was under way too much stress. And then I met my husband. There was just one small problem. He was in the union and I was in management. So to date him, I had to quit my job.
Create an exit strategy
Okay, before you start rolling your eyes thinking I left a job for a man, I was already looking for an exit strategy long before I met him. The first step in this strategy was hiring a business coach to help me figure out what I wanted and to get clear on my strengths.
At this point I was so frazzled and worn out (sound familiar?) that I knew I wanted out but had no idea where to start. After our first session, my coach said – we need to work on your exit strategy. This job is killing you. Agreed.
For the next six months we met weekly. He gave me visualization exercises, books to read and encouraged me to take a small contract as a college instructor. It was by dipping my toe into the world of teaching that I found my new passion – speaking and training.
I started teaching more courses and began speaking at communications conferences. I soon found one of my gifts is simplifying information and helping people understand complex ideas in bite size pieces. All by using case studies and stories from my personal experience (all those hours of being a workaholic made for some great stories).
It was the confidence and knowledge gained through working with my business coach, that made me take a pause, reflect on the work I was doing, explore new career options and find a new passion. So when I met my husband, and had to make the choice between my day job and dating a man that was unlike anyone else I had ever met, it was the push I needed to take the jump.
There is never a perfect time
Since that first jump, I’ve made many more career jumps. Each jump has come after a period of self-reflection. Reflecting on the work I’m doing, looking to see if there are any new areas I want to explore and seeing how I’ve evolved (and if the current job has evolved with me).
Through all this work, I also know there is never a perfect time to jump. I still have a mortgage, bills to pay and kids to feed. But I also know when I’m not truly happy with the work I’m doing, it impacts others.
So back to the motivation for my latest career jump. My son. One day he was happily chatting away saying his sister loves horses, he loves buses, daddy likes to draw (landscape architect not colouring) and mommy loves to work.
That one statement – mommy likes to work – was a kick in the gut.
I had spent the summer writing two books and diving deeper into the world of patient advocacy (based on personal experience). His words made me sit up and take stock.
My passion had evolved into patient advocacy. I was a few months away from having my first two books launching and I was burnt out. So I made the jump.
I’m writing this article 10 months after I quit my comfortable job. While I have not yet replaced my income, my health has dramatically improved. I have way less stress, am much more present with my family and am doing what I love every single day.
Having made the jump before, I know that by following my passion, the money will come. It’s about staying focused and continuing to live and work on my passion. And part of this is bringing my public relations experience to my patient advocacy work. Combining two passions.
What’s holding you back?
I encourage you to set out some time to take stock of your current job or career. Are you excited about the work you do? Do you work with people who inspire you to be your best? Are you growing your skills or interests so you continue to evolve? Or are you going to work everyday because of the pay check, pension or expectations you must stick with your chosen career?
I’d love to hear how you are doing – whether you are struggling or if you’ve made the jump (how did you land). Send me a message or comment below.