It’s been a year since I left my day job as a civil engineer. For good. I’m now a full-time copywriter, working from home in my pajamas. Changing career has been the most challenging yet the best thing I’ve ever done.
I have to admit that I’m still surprised by how much better this is than the old job. The freedom and flexibility are great, but the satisfaction and a sense of purpose really make it worth all the effort.
I’ve had a lot of questions about how I made the transition, so here’s an update on what’s happened in the last twelve months.
But first, let me tell you a story that happened way before I changed careers.
Okay. Marites, come on and lend me your ears.
I once dated a professor. We shared the same profession, so yep, he’s a civil engineer. He’s way older than I am, although his looks tell otherwise.
One of the things he shared with me is his love for teaching and his students — especially the girls. Before he settled in the teaching profession, he already had tremendous experience in the civil engineering field both here and abroad.
On the other hand, I was a struggling field civil engineer who had uneven tan lines and natural facial contours, thanks to Mr. Sun. That was my third year working in the field. I vented my profession about changing careers, and he suggested I try teaching.
I laughed at his idea, but it lingered in my mind for a long time. He was right, though — I do love to teach. But not in a classroom. I just hate being stuck in one place, with a lot of papers and books to grade.
I would love to teach and move people through writing. During that time, I already had this blog. And I started to write about my personal experiences, hoping they would help others.
So I told him I would quit my job during my fifth year — that’s my deadline, and make this blog my primary source of living. But I don’t exactly know what I need to do at that time, except to quit my day job.
I’ve been called crazy, stupid, reckless, and a girl who will never make it. But I’m doing fine. Better than ever before. And my life is filled with purpose and passion with the things I’m doing now.
This story happened exactly three years ago. And I was able to quit my day job as a civil engineer a year before my “deadline”, which was last year.
So many things have changed since then. I got a full-time job as a copywriter while earning figures that were way more than what I could earn in my previous job. In fact, I made more in my first year as a full-time copywriter compared to my combined salary while working as a civil engineer for four years.
On top of this, I’m enjoying my work, and I’m doing things that I love.
But let’s face it. Changing careers is not for everyone.
For some, it’s too scary. Too risky. And for others, they’re just not privileged enough to have the option.
But to tell you, I was in the same place as most people. I was scared, and I can’t afford to lose a sustainable income knowing that I had a family to support.
It is indeed tricky and scary. You must have the courage to take the initiative and do what needs to be done on your own.
I just got lucky that I figured out what I wanted to do early. And because I can’t afford to leave my previous day’s job just yet, I started my pursuit on the side.
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s never easy and you will be scared at times, but if you want something badly enough, the fear is something that pushes you forward.
So if you’re one of those people who has been dreaming about changing careers but just hasn’t found the courage, this is for you.
But let me clear things once and for all. This post isn’t meant to advocate career change. It’s meant to show you how I did it.
Why Change Career?
While many people change careers to seek something new or different, others move on because they are looking for a job that better uses their interests or skills. Though often it can be because the people switch careers for financial reasons.
There are many reasons why someone might choose to change their career. It could be that they hate their job or feel stuck in a rut and don’t know what else to do. Sometimes it’s not the job itself that’s the problem, but where you are in your life. Maybe you’re not happy with your current situation, and you want to find something that makes you more comfortable.
If you’ve decided that it’s time to make a change, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself first.
- Where do my passions lie?
- Do I have a reason to step away from my current career?
- Am I afraid I can’t try new things later in life because of fear holding me back?
These are all critical things to consider before making any decisions.
Changing careers can be scary, but it’s also an exciting opportunity for growth. You may be worried about financial instability or the fear of failure, but remember that these fears can hold you back from achieving great things.
Fear is an essential part of life, but it doesn’t have to control you. If you acknowledge your fears and take action to address them, then you’ll be able to overcome them and achieve your goals.
What are the common challenges when changing careers?
You don’t know what you want to do.
Making a career change can be difficult for a variety of reasons. One of the most common challenges is that many people don’t know what they want to do. It’s often hard to figure out what you’re passionate about and even harder to find a career that aligns with your passions.
You lack skills and network.
Another challenge is that many people lack the skills or contacts necessary to succeed in their new field. Without the right experience or relationships, it can be tough to start as a freelancer or entrepreneur.
Fear of change.
Finally, many people are afraid of change. You may be comfortable in your current job, even if you’re not happy with it, and you may be worried about the risks associated with making a change. It can be scary to leave the security of a steady paycheck and try something new.
However, with enough determination and planning, anyone can make a successful career change.
Is 33 too old to change careers?
I have a friend who asked me this question the other day. He’s 33 years old, and he wants to change careers from sales to something more creative like writing or photography.
He’s been in sales for the last ten years, and it’s time to move on. His question to me was, “Am I too old?”
I said, “No!” Then I told him what I tell everyone who asks me this question:
There is no age limit on changing careers. In fact, in one of the Facebook groups that I belong to, there’s this retired man who pursued to study programming, and now he’s hired as a junior developer in a remote company.
He’s in his 70s!
Mind you; he didn’t have any background in programming. He started learning coding during his retirement year in his 60s, and now he’s a full-fledged programmer!
I don’t think that you’re too old to change careers.
There’s no one answer to this question since everyone’s situation is different. However, it is possible to change careers until your late thirties – and sometimes later than that!
The challenge ultimately lies in pouring new skills and knowledge into an empty cup. You must be willing to learn new skills and spend time and effort acquiring the skills.
The key to a successful career change is finding work that you’re passionate about and makes you happy. You’ll be more engaged with what you do and less likely to feel burned out.
Remember, changing careers is like a second chance in your career life. You’re given an opportunity to do something you love while making money!
How to change your career at any age
Assess your skills and interests.
What do you like doing? What are you good at? Try not to overthink specific jobs or industries, but rather focus on the tasks or activities that make you happy.
Do your research.
Once you have a general idea of the type of work you want to do, start researching specific careers and training programs. Look for opportunities that are in line with your values and interests. You may be surprised to find out how many options there are, even if you think the field is saturated or competitive.
Find your network.
Talk to people in your desired field to learn more about the industry and what type of work you’d be doing. If possible, look for someone who has successfully changed career in the field and ask them about their experiences.
If you can’t find anyone who fits that description, look for someone who has been doing what you want to do for a while – you’ll still get some idea of what it’s like to work in the field.
Don’t just sit around dreaming about changing careers – take steps towards making it happen. This may include signing up for online courses, networking with professionals in your desired field, or volunteering your time to gain experience.
Changing careers can be a daunting task, but it’s worth it if you’re doing something you love.
Now, let me reiterate my points and expand them a little bit more.
10 Important Steps to a Successful Career Change
1. Identify your values
When looking for a new career, it is essential to remember what you love about your current job. What are the activities or aspects of your work that you enjoy? This can help in finding the following career path.
Awareness of the parts of your current job that interest you can also help find the next career path. When considering different careers, keep in mind whether or not they align with those things that are currently interesting to you.
2. Make time to examine your core values
What are the things that are important to you? Your passions and conflicting values can motivate a career change.
It’s important to honor your non-negotiable values, even if you’re going into a different field of work or entirely changing careers at any age. The career change can be significant and a unique opportunity to reflect on values.
It may also be beneficial to share your list with an advisor who can help you find clarity in the decision-making process.
3. Find a career mentor
A mentor is a valuable resource for helping you advance in your career. They can provide guidance, advice, and support as you navigate the challenges of your field.
Don’t assume that you know everything, and ask lots of questions to get feedback from others working on similar projects. This will help you learn and grow as a professional.
Additionally, it’s crucial to stay up-to-date on key fundamentals of work and entrepreneurship across all fields, regardless of era. Whether you’re starting out in your career or looking to make a change, these fundamentals will help you succeed.
Finally, many courses are available that provide information and opportunities for those who want to enter the field of your choice. With the right tools and resources, you can make a successful career change at any age.
To give you an idea, I took a $10 copywriting course in Udemy. Yes, you could say I only spent $10. But on top of that, I spent years writing content, learning from my mistakes, and getting feedback.
But that $10 copywriting course increased my confidence in my writing. It gave me the courage to apply for high-paying copywriting jobs that require a lot of writing experience.
4. Expand your network
Making a career change can be daunting, but it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. When thinking about going freelance or changing your career, you want to build a support network from all parties involved. This includes family, friends, colleagues, and even people who wish to do the same.
You should not burn any bridges by skipping out on handing in your resignation letter too soon – this could jeopardize future opportunities. It’s essential to get advice from colleagues during this transition to ensure that the change is seamless.
It’s also important to build relationships and connect with people in the industry to get feedback on your strengths and weaknesses. Remember that change will not happen overnight; it takes time and persistence to make anything successful.
5. Update your skills
If you’re looking to make a career change, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and technologies. You can do this by taking night classes or learning online courses. There are plenty of opportunities out there.
There are many resources available that can help you learn new skills without being hired. This includes online courses, articles, and videos.
If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can teach yourself just about anything!
And I’m a living example of that. I’ve taught myself everything from coding to graphic design and more by watching YouTube videos and reading articles.
I even taught myself how to make my website!
6. Search for the right place
Finding the right place to change your career can be difficult. However, there are a few things that you can do to make the process easier:
First, research different fields and companies that appeal to you. To do this, you’ll want to start with a list of your interests and skills. You can do this by writing down what subjects in school interested you the most or what jobs you thought were excellent.
Second, be prepared to invest time and money in your job search. New career paths are often difficult to find and take 6 to 12 months. Attending conferences, networking events, and other job-hunting expenses can add up.
Third, make sure you have an emergency fund if things don’t work out at your new company or you’re forced to quit your current job. This piece of advice is for people who are unhappy with their current job.
Finally, be patient and don’t give up. It can take time to find the right career change opportunity, but it will be worth it.
7. Tap into your creativity
Creativity is a skill that can be learned, practiced, and mastered. It’s not an innate gift. Not everyone is creative, but everyone can be creative.
The first step in developing your creative powers is to stop thinking about yourself as a “non-creative person.” You are not non-creative.
The pianist didn’t learn to play piano as a child. He didn’t pick it up naturally and started playing beautiful music. He practiced, studied, and worked at it until he became an accomplished pianist. It’s the same with creativity.
The creative process is a skill that can be learned and developed.
I was never a writer. I once hated writing so much. I started writing when I was already working as a civil engineer.
I never thought of myself as a writer, but my desperation to earn something on the side drove me to start writing. When I started, I was so bad at it. I was terrible.
But then, as I practiced and worked at it, my writing improved. And my passion for writing grew stronger each day as this became an avenue to express myself, tell stories that move people and make some money.
And then, I was able to quit my day job and become a full-time writer.
Here are many ways to tap into your creativity:
Take on new challenges and learn new things.
This is a great way to keep your brain active and engaged, which is very important to spark your creativity and make you feel fulfilled. If there’s something that you have always wanted to learn or a skill that you have been meaning to pick up, now would be the time.
Find inspiration in the world around you.
If you are looking for inspiration, look no further than the people around you. The best and most creative ideas come from passionate people about the work they do.
Be patient and persistent.
The more you practice your creativity, the better you will become at it, the better you will feel about yourself, and the better you will think about what you are doing with your life.
The first few times I tried to write a blog was excruciatingly painful. My brain felt like it was going to explode. I was so afraid of being judged that I would stop after one paragraph and go back to my old, comfortable ways of doing things.
Now, I am comfortable with the idea that there will be some people who don’t like what I have to say, and others will love it. And the more I wrote, the better I became at writing, and the more I enjoyed it.
8. Make time for yourself every day
It can be challenging to make time for yourself every day when you have a lot of things on your plate, but you must do. Here are a few tips to help you make time for yourself:
First, divide your goal into smaller chunks.
Don’t let your ultimate goal of career change overwhelm you. That’s too huge. And that could lead to paralysis analysis.
Setting a daily goal could be to email that UX Designer about meeting for a coffee. Another daily goal might be to sign up for a course on UX Design.
Next, write down what you want to do each day and try your best to stick to that list.
Your long-term goals should always be insight, and they should always have deadlines written down with an end date.
For instance, I promised myself to quit my civil engineering job in my fifth year, but I was able to do that in my fourth year. Without setting myself a deadline, I would have stayed in my job for the rest of my life.
Set a deadline for your long-term goals and break it down into daily tasks that are part of the journey to reach that goal.
Keep track of your progress.
It’s important to track your progress as you learn new things. This will help you stay motivated and see the results of your hard work.
You can keep a journal, blog, or even make notes on what you’ve learned. This will not only help you remember everything, but it can also be a valuable resource for future reference.
9. Don’t be afraid to change jobs
Leaving your job can be a difficult decision, but it’s not always the end of the world. Sometimes it can be the best decision you ever make.
There are many reasons why you might choose to leave your job:
- You may have outgrown it.
- You may not be getting paid what you’re worth.
- You may simply no longer be interested in what you’re doing.
Whatever the reason, know that it’s okay to change jobs – and that you’re not alone.
If you’re considering making a change, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. If you feel like you’re not getting paid what you’re worth, don’t be scared to negotiate a raise or switch jobs altogether.
Follow your gut. Trusting yourself will be critical for success, both professionally and personally.
Find a job that aligns with your passions. Focus on finding a job that aligns with what you’re passionate about – and that you enjoy going to every day.
10. Stay positive and focused
It’s easy to get bogged down by stress and negativity in your journey towards changing careers, but it’s essential to stay positive and focused. This can be difficult when things are going wrong, but it is necessary to maintain a good attitude.
When things are tough, take a step back and remind yourself why you’re doing this in the first place. Focus on what you can control, and don’t worry about the things you can’t.
Stay positive by taking care of yourself both physically and emotionally.
Make time for things you enjoy outside of work, and spend time with positive people who will support you.
I’m not going to tell you that changing a career is easy because it isn’t in most cases. But if your passion can be your job, it’s worth the effort.
I believe you don’t need to find some sort of divine inspiration that will lead you to the right path. You just need to take a step in the right direction, and then another one and another one.
If you’re lucky enough to have a passion that can be your job, you’ll never need to work again. You’ll always have at least one source of income, and it will be the easiest money you’ve ever made.
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