Planning a career change at 30? Here’s what you need to know before taking the plunge

Changing career at 30: Four tiny things that make a big difference.

Words by Natasha Courtenay Smith
Ah, our 20s. Arguably the most fun care-free decade of our lives. But what if like countless millenials, you find yourself waking up somewhere close to 30 and thinking ‘Erm, HELP, can someone remind me why I am even a doctor / teacher / lawyer / *insertyourprofessionhere* anyway?”
The thing is, most of us chose our careers as teenagers before we really even really knew ourselves or drifted into it aimlessly after university never considering that it might actually end up what we did  for the rest of our lives.

So if you’re desperate to shake things up, how do you go about changing your  career at 30, just as the serious – and costly – stuff (think marriage/kids/ mortgage) is on the horizon?

And what should you do about the little voice in your head that tells you you’ve left it too late, that you can’t afford change, that you’ve made your bed and now you’d better just lie in it.
Recent research found 91 per cent of millennials expect to say in a job for less than three years, meaning over a lifetime they might have 15 – 20 different jobs.
According to Psychologist and author Dr Marcia Reynolds it’s normal for women to reflect on their career and life choices as each new decade approaches, with the dawning of our 30s often resulting in a drive to focus on long term happiness over short term financial gain.
Personally, I know the person I was at 19 was completely different to the one I woke up to at 29, as evidenced by the fact my 19 year old self was dead set on a career in the police force, while my 29 year old self had just left an 8 year career in journalism to launch an online business. Now as I approach the end of my 30s, I’m a different person again.
Well the first thing to remember is that you don’t have to hold yourself hostage to a path you took, or decision you made years earlier. Its still not too late to change track and try something new. Here’s how.

1. Plan your finances, and test the water

As 30 approaches, you may well have proper financial commitments, not least the rent.

Try saving three months salary in advance and if you’re thinking about getting a mortgage, then get it now, while you’re still in regular employment and go for a 5 year deal so that you have time to gain traction in a new career before having to prove your income again (a mortgage company will generally ask for 3 years accounts for self employed applicants).

Or follow the route of blogger Kat Williams, who now has a six figure income thanks to her hugely popular blog and print magazine ‘Rock N Roll bride’. Kat had fallen out with her old job as producer on a TV shopping channel, but decided she couldn’t quit her old job until she was making a similar amount of money from her new one.

That gave her plenty of motivation, and she made the switch gradually, going part time on her job until she was able to quit fully and focus her attention on her now extremely successful venture.

2. Do your research

If you believed every social media /insta millionaire right now you might wind up thinking that all you have to do is follow your passions and kerching… you can whatever it is you love into a business. Well, lets inject a lone voice of caution here.

It’s tempting to base a business purely on what you love, but I very much doubt the likes of Branson make decisions purely on a feeling inside their heart – they weigh up risks and opportunity at the same time.

Yes, you want to love what you do but you also need to look across all your passions and interests (most people have more than one!) and take a calculated and well thought out decision based on where opportunity truly lies and where demand really exists.

3. Don’t underestimate the power of networking

A lot of people feel their heart sinking when they think about networking. Instead, see it as a way of spreading the word that either you’re looking for new opportunities or you have a new venture you’d like to tell people about.

Carrie Green, founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association, a learning platform and online hub for women in business supports thousands of women around the globe. But it started as a simple website. At the time, she was running a different business, unlocking mobile phones, which she had fallen out of love with.

‘I networked like a crazy person and built momentum by taking massive action. I googled networking events to go to, found a list of them and started going along to them. I soon started to build up group of people who knew me and supported me.’

4. Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight

There is a brilliant saying about motherhood ‘The days are long but the time is short’ which is acutely relevant here.
Look at it this way. If I say to you yes, you can make the change and in 2 years time, you will be leading a very different life, your initial thoughts might be ‘TWO YEARS? THAT’S WAY TOO LONG, I CAN’T RISK IT.’
But time goes by in a blip.

When, in 2 years time, you’re gazing over your new life, you’ll look back and think ‘Well, everything is completely different now and it only took 2 years. I don’t know what I was worrying about.’

Natasha Courtenay-Smith is an entrepreneur, digital strategist and author of The Million Dollar Blog (Little Brown).

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