"career change"

mowgli's picture
mowgli started the topic in Wednesday, 15 Apr 2015 at 9:34pm

Couldn't think of what else to call the topic...moving along.

Has anyone here ever changed careers completely? As in, been qualified in one thing, and caring about it to an extent, but still not "loving it", so you changed career/vocation?

They, whomever "they" is, say that you shouldn't go through life doing work that you don't love. If you, you'll get to the end and think (along with all the other regrets) "Fuck, I should never have become a commercial lawyer. It paid great but I hardly ever got to surf, it rarely put me in a good mood, and most of the people I work for or with I couldn't give two shits about".....But they also say "rent money is dead money", and "don't be left with the shit end of the stick".

Whether it's worked for or against you, would you share with me your reasons for changing?

The reason I ask is because I feel that I am at a bit of a cross-roads. I feel committed to the overarching goal of what I do - to make human society more ecologically and socially sustainable (because let's face it, there are A LOT of things wrong and getting worse), but I think I'm starting feel a big disconnect between the path I've chosen to get there (being a cog in a corporate machine), and who I am as a person (strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, lifestyle preferences, etc.)

Not to mention the whole sitting down all day thing, the whole working in a concrete jungle thing, the whole you-must-be-here-between-8am-and-5pm-or-else thing...

thermalben's picture
thermalben's picture
thermalben commented Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 at 9:09am

It kinda happened for me, although I dunno if I was actually on a career to begin with.

I always thought music was going to be it. I started music lessons early in life (aged 5), went to a special music high school, studied classical music at Uni, did years and years of hard work with my band(s) trying to get somewhere - but eventually realised early in the piece that music wasn't going to pay the bills in any way shape or form.

I also realised that having a 'career' as a musician would probably lessen my enthusiasm for actually doing it. I mean, I love playing, creating, recording, everything to do with music - but I don't know if I could do it five nights a week. It's a pretty taxing lifestyle too.

So, went back to uni to study weather forecasting and Swellnet evolved from that (albeit by accident.. I didn't have a business plan in mind at first).

However, it wouldn't have been possible if I'd been married/had kids/was paying off a mortgage etc - I was only able to make such a change because my circumstances allowed it. I'm sure there are a lot of people who'd love to try something different but simply can't because they're heavily committed. So I'm very grateful for the opportunity I've been given to do something I love. And I'm still playing in a couple of bands, so I get to keep that side of me satisfied too.

joakse's picture
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joakse commented Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 at 6:54pm

Interesting question. I have met loads of people that have just seen out the last 20 years in a job they didn't like because it paid ok and it was less pain to do what they were skilled at then retrain and start at the bottom. I know of someone that left a very high paying finance job and did a complete flip into software only to find that within a year or two they were on comparable money and a huge amount of work flexibility. Personally I think the grass is always greener but that should not be a reason to not change. I personally have been in my current career about 20 years and I have spoken to people at the same stage that are largely just over the same routine and want a new challenge. My plan, which I have started this year, is part-time work in my existing job (so I maintain the salary at a professional and experienced level) and pursue new endeavours on the off days. I reckon you need a good plan going into it and an understanding employer that recognises that all staff need to transition on at that mid stage of their career.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 at 10:04pm

Life's too short and a working life is too long to be doing something that is not fulfilling your requirements whichever they may be.

As Ben says, if your circumstance allow, ditch it if you're not loving it.

You never know until you go.

Don't let fear run your life.

upnorth's picture
upnorth's picture
upnorth commented Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 at 10:50pm

I'd agree with the advice that you shouldn't go through life doing work you don't love, if you are fortunate enough to be in a position where you can make changes then in my opinion you are being remiss if you don't. So many people are constrained by financial, family and social responsibilities and expectations that they just have got to get on with it and that's without looking overseas where so many more people are stuck with the situation they are born into.
My own career has morphed a few times, I always wanted my work to involve the sea so took a path which led to ocean science at uni which led to a job in aquaculture on the west coast of Scotland. Loved the environment but the ecologically dubious nature of the work and an urge to travel prompted change. I wanted to be able to work as I went and a trade seemed like a good idea so I swapped management for an apprenticeship in painting and decorating and three years later I was qualified. Painting allowed me to travel on and off for about ten years by which point I had a mrs and we settled in Oz, I was over the painting and keen to get off the tools so I started a business which was exciting but chasing the $ was never motivation for me and needing to do that to keep lads in work soon took the fun out of it. I'd seen a mobile wood fired pizza oven at a festival and the idea appealed to me so I started researching and after a couple of years and back in the UK I'd bought one and the associated kit which is where I'm at now. Bit of a risk to start afresh as we now have a mortgage and six moth old but it's definitely been for the best, the business is never going to make a mint particularly with the good old British weather but I enjoy the work, see plenty of the family and if there are waves I can surf so the most important things are covered.
If you can think of something you'd rather be doing which would enable you to live the life you want to live and you have the means to do it then just commit and with a bit of luck it will happen.

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carpetman commented Thursday, 16 Apr 2015 at 11:09pm

When ever I think of something I'd rather be doing than my current work it never involves any other kind of work.
Working sucks. My current career goal is to quit and take a year off doing the things I enjoy, with people I enjoy around me. Maybe after a year a door will open or a switch will be flicked and everything will come together. If not I've just had a great year off and I can slide back into the old career path without too much trouble.

roubydouby's picture
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roubydouby commented Friday, 17 Apr 2015 at 10:51am

Hi Mowgli -

I was an accountant for 6 years and at the age of 30 (a bit over of a year ago) decided I couldn't handle it any more - it didn't satisfy me creatively and it left leave me feeling depressed and disconnected from others (and that was working for a non-profit). I made the decision to go back to uni to become a high school teacher.

I was scared to let go of a career path that I knew, to be 30 and on Aus study while all my mates were having kids and buying houses. But then I just stopped comparing myself to them, and things got really good, really quick - call it living in the moment, call it self-acceptance. I simply committed to my own path and decided that was okay.

The last year of studying has been great. I moved to Coffs, I surfed every day, made good friends, got a fantastic girlfriend, read books, slept in - basically just took a year to shed all the negative crap piled on by years of being an office worker and having a loveless life. It's amazing how working a job that doesn't actualize you as a person can foment feelings of self-loathing and worthlessness. Sure I had to cut my expenses and lifestyle, but I don’t actually miss a thing (only my friends back in Adelaide - though now they have a great holiday location and a reason to visit). My life even feels richer for abstaining from many of the things I thought were vital.

A year and a bit later and I'm 4 weeks away from graduating and there are no regrets - the pracs were scary as shit and dumped me WAY out of my comfort zone (I thought I was gonna have a nervous breakdown at the start), but ultimately all the fear was baseless and I grew a ridiculous amount – forged by fire. I finished both pracs feeling connected and imbued by a real sense of care and warmth and duty to my students, which, for the first time in a long time, left me feeling good about myself. It also gave me the knowledge that I was on the right track, despite the nagging fears and self-comparisons my brain chirped.

Despite losing out on maybe $160k in income, and all the other opportunity costs that come with breaking from the working world and changing careers, I have never felt better about myself or where I am going - and I don't regret tossing the safe job for a second.

All the fears I had turned out to be empty.

Good luck mate - let us know how it is going.

PS. I also got loads of great waves while being a broke student - It's hard to feel poor when drenched in surf stoke.

Results may vary.

davetherave's picture
davetherave's picture
davetherave commented Friday, 17 Apr 2015 at 10:51am

mowgli, i was on big dough working in advertising, getting all the perks, free entry night clubs, bands, sitting in radio studio smoking joints with a few then i got bit stale, started training, went back to newcastle while girlfriend did uni, then got offered contract to be paid to play soccer. THe day I was going to sign i contract, i sneezed whilst walking up steps, next thing I know I am in hospital getting told they are fusing my neck together with bone out of my hip-it works, i will have some function, it doesnt- quadraplegic.
THe moral of the story is i believe we are here to live our lives the fullest, from our hearts. I read once in my studies of quantum physics/mechanics that the universe life does not respond to our thoughts as much as it does to our feelings. So feeling good about yourself, your relationships, your life is paramount.
Even though I can no longer do a lot of things i love and i have my shitty days, I am well known for being one of the happiest people about these parts, and it's true- be happy to be healthy and wealthy.
all the best mate, create your life circumstances, dont react to them.


brownie48's picture
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brownie48 commented Wednesday, 22 Apr 2015 at 5:24pm

I was stuck in a job for years that I hated, really wanted out and couldn't get a redundancy which is the only way I could afford to leave

So I turned the whole job into how I could bluff my way around without actually doing long hours and maximising surf time, basically treated it like a joke that paid for my family to survive. That's the only way I survived. I couldn't afford to swap jobs or leave as I was too old to get another job with a salary decent enough to deal with a young family and a Sydney mortgage.

Don't take it seriously, if you have to stay like I had to make a game of it and stay in the moment by not dreading what MAY happen while at work and see how you can get to the beach earlier than normal

I was lucky, got my redundancy and now spend my time bringing a smile to peoples faces by helping them surf better. No better feeling...

mowgli's picture
mowgli's picture
mowgli commented Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 at 1:09pm

Wow, so many good responses! Thanks Swellnetters/Swellnetizens.

Firstly, a quick background & update on my situation. You may have surmised from the first post and some of my others on this forum that I work in sustainability/CSR. I've been doing it for a few years now and am not all that far off hitting the big 3-0 and ending my glorious 20s (cue mix of sadface and cheshire cat grin when remembering all the debauchery). I got into it because during my uni days I figured there's plenty of grassroots level type stuff going on, but not enough at the top where a small number of changes can have a significant and measurable impact. I've worked mostly on what you may call the "industrial" side of things. An infrastructure company, a waste services company, and most recently an iron ore miner.
I say most recently because two days after my original post I was pulled into a meeting with my manager, our director, and a HR manager for "a talk that no of us wants to have". Due to market conditions blah blah blah, we have to let yours and a lot of other "non-essential" roles go. Be out of here by lunchtime. I was out by 10 and making a bee-line for Scarb to get wet, get my favourite bacon & egg burger and treat myself to a mint choc-chip ice cream yew.

This isn't as much of an issue as it may seem at first. The missus and I moved to Perth from Sydney last June for this/that role, and her team is all based back in Syd so that'll make the transition back much easier. Also we don't have a mortgage or any other major financial obligations/family commitments (though we're putting in place plans now for those) so it doesn't throw up any financial bogeymen. Also, I was tossing up whether to stay or throw in the towel soon anyway (which may not seem surprising given this thread!). The only downside was no severance package! You need to have worked somewhere for at least 12 months and I was 5 weeks short...bastards. Upside is day 2 of Redundancy Life saw me have my best round of 18 so far at Hammersley (yew), and see the prospect of scoring some uncrowded weekday Lancelin/Yallingup (yew X 2) before moving back to cockroach territory.

Getting back to the thread. It seems there are a couple of lessons amongst the responses above:
- understand why you're doing what you currently do (fulfilment, financial, family, "because it was there");
- why you would do that something else instead; and,
- understand the consequences (neg or positive) of changing paths.

It's good to hear that there are those that have made a switch and are better for it. But also the more devil's advocate type advice of "it ain't always easy/straightforward to switch" and "does the grass just appear greener?". Definitely along the lines of what I was hoping to get back. Though I guess it's one thing to talk about it and another to "take ya balls outta ya purse and just fucken do it" (as one of my mates is fond of saying).

So I guess a follow-up line of questions to those who did change tracks would be - how did you figure out which way to go? How clear was it from the outset and if not how did you figure it out? And finally, what did you do to convince yourself to keep going when things looked pretty daunting and it seemed like you were about to "eat a bag of dicks" financially/relationship-wise/other? (another favourite saying from the same mate).


“Life is a long lesson in humility.”

surfstarved's picture
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surfstarved commented Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 at 1:58pm

On my third "career" at the moment, after 12 years cooking and another 8 or so in media and administration roles. Now a freelance writer and home-dad. It barely pays the bills, but it's allowed me to spend heaps of good quality time with my young kids (time I wouldn't have been able to get back if I'd missed it chasing a salary).

My youngest starts school next year, so I'm hoping to build on the business, do a few more feature articles and bring in a few more $$ once my childcare responsibilities relax a bit.

Wish I'd made the change years ago, to be honest. Would have been much easier without the mortgage + family. Writing was something I'd always wanted to do, but I never had the guts to drop everything and give it a crack. A conveniently timed redundancy helped with that particular decision and here I am.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 at 2:38pm

Got any links to your writings ?

wingnut2443's picture
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wingnut2443 commented Thursday, 23 Apr 2015 at 4:35pm

udo wrote: Got any links to your writings ?

If I'm not mistaken, this is his work:


And, for those interested, his musings about surfboards and stuff:


Surfboard Design and Construction Kook. Evidence is here: www.ffwsurfboards.com.au
*FFW - Few Fun Waves ... that's what it's all about for me.

surfstarved's picture
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surfstarved commented Friday, 24 Apr 2015 at 12:34pm

You got me Wingnut. Fuck, now I'm going to have to write something...

I mainly do corporate copywriting for a crust - everything from real estate descriptions, to marketing collateral, to speechwriting, I even edited a kids' book this week, for something different - with little or no time for my own stuff. Hoping to branch out into more journalistic feature writing if I can find the time.

Don't let the bastards grind you down

wellymon's picture
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wellymon commented Friday, 24 Apr 2015 at 1:30pm

Love ya passion on your shaping surfstarved, keep it up ;)

Our brains are too small at the moment to comprehend the reality of what's happening in our forests . We're only just waking up so to speak . The big problem is we think we know everything, we are specks of dust on a timeline and we know nothing .

factotum's picture
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factotum commented Monday, 17 Jun 2019 at 11:16pm

"What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers."


Westofthelake's picture
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Westofthelake commented Tuesday, 18 Jun 2019 at 11:35am

Hahaha - “He’s bloody useless. It’s not like him refusing to do work today is different to any other day, usually he just sits there on his phone watching surfing videos, so nothing gets done anyway.”