Why Changing Careers is Hard

When the team at BizLatte asked me to write something to kick off their new website, the first thing that came to mind was the bravery they have to change their path.

You see, as we go through life, sometimes we follow the path we created for ourselves many years ago and under different circumstances.  Once we're on that path, we rarely chose to change that path for several reasons, some of which I'll explain below.  

You may not have experienced it yet, but I hope you do sometime soon.  It's the most liberating thing that can happen to you.

Let me explain.

Years ago, when I worked for the world's biggest accounting firm, I was having a hard time reconciling what I was doing and what I wanted to do.
I was getting good money, getting great experience, and doing what was expected (get a job in your degree), what I was told to do (get a job and work your way up), and what everyone else was doing (working for someone else).
And yet...I wasn't happy.

The hardest part to reconcile was admitting to myself that maybe having an accounting degree was a big mistake.  Had I wasted the past 4 years on a college degree for a job that I didn't want? Admitting to myself that I didn't want to do accounting meant I had made a huge mistake.

For several years I refused to admit what I then considered a mistake (getting an accounting degree) and continued plugging away at accounting jobs that I didn't find interesting. I could do the work and I could do it well. I just wasn't finding it fulfilling.

After several years of reading on the topic and trying to come to terms with my "mistake," I realized that there was another way of looking at it.  

Deciding to get an accounting degree when I was 18 was not a mistake. I worked hard throughout high school so I could get into the country's best Accounting Program which I did.  I got my degree, got an awesome job and then I realized I wanted to do something different.

The reason it wasn't a mistake was because I made that decision under different circumstances. I was a high school student who wanted a degree from the best program in the country in something I enjoyed and was good at.

Five years later I was a completely different person. I was now a 23-year-old with an accounting degree that felt he could have a bigger impact doing something besides accounting.  

I didn't make a mistake.  I was making a change.

Some people call it pivoting, some call it correcting your course. I call it for what it is: adjusting my path.  

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." ~ George Bernard Shaw

I see it with career coaching clients often. They sometimes feel they have to follow a path they created for themselves years ago (when they were single/married, living in a different city, different economic environment, different industry, etc) because changing paths would mean admitting they made a mistake.  

I always explain to them that what they did or didn't do isn't good or bad. It's just part of their story and they should allow themselves to make changes when they see fit.  

“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that's your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don't contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you're not thinking.” ~ Malcolm Gladwell

This is the same way I want you to approach your career goals and life in general. If you feel at some point the need to change course, be honest with yourself and make the decision.

Even though it feels like everyone is going to judge, mock, and criticize you, they won't. 

They're too worried about the struggles they're facing to think about yours.  

Besides, if this change in path is a mistake, it's very likely you'll be able to correct your course again. There isn't a limit to the times you can change your mind. 

So this is where the new BizLatte comes in. When the co-founders first started writing articles and posting videos last year as separate brands, they had an idea of what they wanted to do. As they created content, built up readership, and met other people with similar ideas, they decided to make some changes to their path. I'm sure what they had in mind 6-months ago is not the same thing they have in mind as a goal now.    

If you get anything about this post it should be this: No matter what happens, you have to make sure you're kind to yourself for wanting to make a change. It can be hard making a change without you beating yourself up for wanting this new path.

Think about it this way: if you're on a boat and wanted to go somewhere but along the way you decide to go somewhere better, would you stay on your original path or would you change course?

There is no sense going to a place you don't want to go anymore.  

Ramon Santillan

Ramon Santillan

Interview Consultant, Hiring Expert, and Social Researcher

Ramon Santillan is the founder of PersuasiveInterview.com.  Before he was an Interview Consultant, he was a tax consultant for the world’s biggest accounting firm, the world’s biggest oil driller, and the founder of his own tax practice.

Ramon teaches his clients how to be more charismatic, feel (and look) more confident, and shows them the right way to “brag” about themselves during interviews.  He has been quoted by U.S. News & World Report, CBS, Yahoo!, CareerBuilder.com, Chicago Tribune and many others as an interviewing expert.

His clients think he’s pretty great.  He tends to agree. Ramon is a graduate from the UT’s Red McCombs School of Business, a graduate from the FBI’s Citizen Academy, a Certified Corporate Trainer, has been Historian, Vice President, and President for the ALPFA Houston Chapter, husband of one, father of two, and friend of many. He loves reading and consistently reads between 48-52 books a year.  Tell him about your favorite book and he’ll add it to his Amazon Wishlist.

Ramon also enjoys writing about himself in the 3rd person.  He thinks it’s fun.

For more detailed steps on perfecting your interview answers, make sure to get Ramon’s book: Big 4 Interview Questions: Why the Answer matters more than the Question.