If shifting from one job to another is challenging, a career change is on a whole other level. We definitely can’t blame you if you are full of doubts or even filled with anxiety just by thinking about it. After all, there’s a certain kind of comfort and reassurance in stability and familiarity.
However, significant risks, while they can result in great losses, can also bring about massive successes, the kind that you wouldn’t be able to have within the comforts of the familiar. And while changing career is one of those kinds of risks, sometimes, it is a risk worth taking, even if it fails.
There are lessons that you can learn from it, and some of these are the following:
You will realise just how much there is to learn.
When you have been following one track your whole life, it is easy to feel like you are in total control or even get too self-confident. It is tempting to feel like what you know is enough to survive a lifetime.
But someone aiming to achieve greater successes in the future must not think this way; in success, one does not always have to be the smartest, the most intelligent or knowledgeable, but it is essential to be wise. Wise people recognise that there is always something new to learn, echoing the words of the man who was thought to be the wisest man in Ancient Greece: “I know that I know nothing.”
When one changes career direction, it is almost like starting from the bottom or the first phase once more. You are no longer among the experts of your field. This thought might be scary at first, but there is nothing wrong with it. It means that there is more room for you to learn and improve on new sets of skills and to diversify your knowledge. In a sense, it keeps you grounded and humbles as well, much like Socrates despite the respect he has earned for his great knowledge and wisdom.
You will realise that it’s not always about the money.
Some are lucky enough to have found what they want to do for the rest of their lives early on; others, not so much. And at a later age, it becomes even more difficult to stray away from the path you have been building for years or even decades.
On top of that, there is the question of practicality. Fields have greater demand and provide better pay for certain professions, so why would you venture into that art field, even if that is what you have always wanted in life? These worries are valid, which is why we truly understand why many are afraid to leave their jobs and pursue their passion.
But you know what? Working on a job that you love does not mean you have to beg for money in the streets. There will be sacrifices along the way, but those who did it anyway are living witnesses that many times, your happiness is far more valuable than the numbers in your bank account.
It’s just that people are inherently biased to exaggerate the possible negative outcomes in their head; before they even tried, they judge it merely as an impossibility. We ask of you: don’t be one of these people. Be one of those who is brave enough to see for themselves. Even when things do not go as well as you would have wished, it is probably better than living the following decades of your life in regret and lingering on the thoughts of “what-if’s”.
You will realise that your strengths from your past career can still be useful in your new one.
When you lived your past yours encountering numbers and computations, you might find it difficult how exactly that would be relevant in a field like art. But really, careers are not as clear-cut as we usually think of. The thing is, whatever field you are in, you will most likely need to develop different sets of skills; it just that how much you use each would differ.
More than that, no matter how different two careers might be, your experiences from your past one will also be of great use as you take on new problems on your new one. So don’t be so quick to judge that you will be starting from scratch; that’s not exactly the case because there will always be something to recall and learn from in the past, both negative and positive, in application to what you are tackling today.
You will realise that change is not all that bad; sometimes, it is even necessary.
And of course, among the greatest lessons to learn when you change career is to learn to embrace change finally. If there is one thing that is constant in this world, it is change itself.
Those who experience a change in career direction would have an advantage in approaching the unfamiliar; this is because a career change is among the biggest changes one can experience in life. Once you’ve been through it, the others might not seem as overwhelming.
Taking it up a notch, when it comes to change, one must come to know that it is not enough to simply learn to welcome it. It is also important to recognise when you need to make it. Not happy with the way your team is working? Maybe it is time to approach things differently. Do you feel like you are always tired, stressed, and running out of time? Maybe you need to consciously change your habits – to manage your time better, to sleep earlier, and to take better care of your health.
She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen).
Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).