Research shows that humans are not good at predicting what will make their future selves happy. Many of us choose a career path early in life. Therefore, if you found this article because, after an honest self-assessment, you have realized that your current career is not your Ikigai, the intersection between what you are good at, what you are passionate about, what the world needs, and what can pay your bills – then congratulate yourself.
Rather than a sign of immaturity or an indication that you have wasted years in a career that doesn’t suit you, this is an indication that you have matured as a person enough to be unrecognizable to your past self, who chose this career that may have been right for who you were at the time – but you have outgrown it, or you have learned enough that it is time to move on.
Even a job you might have thought of as only feasible to pursue if identified when you were younger can be more accessible than you may have thought. For example, if you want to pursue a healthcare career, there are credible online health courses that allow you to acquire the knowledge you need while still keeping the lights running at home with your day job. However, remember you are taking another educated guess at what your future self will want, and there are some steps you can take to help make a sustainable choice.
Making big decisions and balancing pragmatism with chasing your dreams is a transferable skill that will serve you well, especially if you decide to correct your course again later. One way to ensure you strike the right balance between your practical life needs and following your star is to explore options that allow you to shift your career path from home.
There is nothing wrong with choosing one career path and diving deeper and deeper into it for your whole life, but not all of us are suited to this. It can be just as normal and healthy to have a portfolio of careers you accumulate over your lifetime, but this isn’t to say we start from scratch each time we decide a phase in our career feels complete. On the contrary, a diverse background shapes the perspective you bring to each new role in any field and is part of the unique value proposition that will make you stand out from the crowd when applying for a new job.
When a new job is not just climbing to the next rung but a shift in career path, it is your task to show a prospective employer how the skills and experiences you have accumulated in your previous career will make you valuable in a job you have never done. The nice thing about this step of shifting your career path from home is it needn’t involve signing yourself up for courses or the risk of stretching yourself too thin. You may be surprised to realize on reflection how much you already know that will make you valuable in your desired new career path.
Admitting to your boss that you don’t feel engaged in your position might sound unwise. However, if you have a good relationship with your manager and have been performing in your role, you probably have more knowledge of the business you work for than you might realize. The relationships you have built with your colleagues and the domain knowledge you may have accumulated by working at a company for a few years are a form of transferable skills which you can leverage. It could be as simple as having a diplomatic talk over Zoom with your current manager about your goals.
If you show initiative by researching the skills you’d need to perform in a different role at your current workplace, you might be surprised at how willing your employer could be to fund a course of study you could complete from home. Even if you ultimately decide to pursue your career goals as an external applicant at a new company rather than an internal transfer, your employer may appreciate the opportunity to retain you and your knowledge specific to their business and industry. Also, it is good to pursue the uncharted territory of a new career path in a familiar environment with known people who will support your transition and want to see you succeed.
Companies can be shortsighted and may see hiring you into a different role as signing up to be the guinea pig for your success or failure when you try your hand at a new thing. Offering your services online via freelancing websites can be a way to build your skills and portfolio in your new field. You get to work from home in your spare time on real projects that are valuable to real clients, and your clients get access to services that might be beyond their budget if you didn’t exist. Everybody wins.
Changing careers can be intimidating, but the options for doing it from the comfort of your own home can lower the barrier to entry, and make your next step seem less daunting and more achievable.