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Career Change – Why Wait?

April 19, 2016

How many of you know someone who is unhappy in their job or career? Likely, the majority of you know several people. In fact, you might even be one of these people!

Almost five years ago, at 45 years old, I decided to leave the world of accounting to become a recruiter. Why you ask? Truth is I was tired of the debits and credits, the countless reconciliations, and the long and tiring month-ends, only to catch my breath and start it all over again. So why did I do it for so long then? Stupidity mostly! No, the truth is that I really liked the people I worked with over the years and helping them understand how accounting information could help them in their roles was very fulfilling.

My dad tried to join the Air Force at 17, but was turned away because he was too young. After this setback, he became a banker instead and never looked back. While banking provided him with a successful career of nearly 50 years, it would not have been his first choice could he do it all over again. When I reflected on my dad’s career and my role in accounting, I knew that I did not want to spend the rest of my life doing something I was not truly passionate about.

So, for me, I decided that I needed a change and began to think critically about what that might be. After doing some self-reflecting, what it really came down to was how the relationships I had developed were much more important to me than numbers. For the first time in my career, I was seriously facing a transformation towards what I really wanted to do, and that was simply to build relationships. Now for most of us, building relationships is a natural part of day-to-day life, so I wondered; could I do it for a living? Furthermore, even if I could do it, how would I possibly go about making a career change at 45? (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like 45 is old) …so here is what I discovered:

The first step in making a career change, and definitely the most important, is deciding that what you want to do is something you are both good at and will enjoy. Otherwise, welcome to career misery. I knew that I really liked meeting people and building relationships, so when an opportunity in recruitment presented itself in the area of finance and accounting, it was a natural fit. I could use my knowledge in accounting, but apply it in a much different way. In the world of executive and professional search, I get to meet great candidates and clients all the time and when things align, the two come together and change lives. I like to call it relationship building at its finest.

The second step in making a career change is actually having the guts to do it. If you truly believe you are good at something, and it is what you really want to do, then strive to make it happen. Of course, the dreamers here need to take a reality check, because I am pretty good at golf, and I like it a lot, but there is a better chance I’d see a pink elephant in my backyard when I go home tonight, than make the PGA Tour. For the realists out there, you can’t sit around waiting for something to cross your path. Spend some time thinking about what you truly want to do and what will make you happy. Once you discover what that is, take a chance, and go for it.

I can appreciate that a career change doesn’t just happen overnight. Many variables play into the equation including economics, family considerations, education, timing, etc. But I will leave you with this: Your career is a massive part of your life, in fact, about 1/3 of your life is spent working, which takes you away from family, and yes, golf. Shouldn’t you be doing something you are good at and actually enjoy?

John Walker

We help organizations thrive by building strong leadership teams & driving sustainable growth.

Category: Consulting

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