How to stay sane while transitioning careers in your 20s
Many people change careers in their lifetime. I never expected mine to change in my late-twenties when everyone around me were getting promotions and the corner office. My decision to go from a stable job in marketing back to being an unemployed student didn't happen overnight. It gradually started when I felt unfulfilled in the work I was doing—am I truly using my best skills, and will this job lead to a better future with professional (and most importantly) personal growth? Here's how I'm staying sane while transitioning into a new career:
No progress is progress
Whether you were laid-off or decide to leave your job on your own, the first step in staying sane is knowing that what seems like a step backward in your career is actually 10 steps forward. You now know what you loved or hated in your previous job—that makes your next move better for the long-run.
Now's the time to do what you've always wanted to so
Think about what you excelled at in your last job, or even at school or hobby. I got a business degree and worked in marketing for 4 years before I realized that what I really excelled at was design and coding that I've done as side projects at my previous jobs. While I've always thought about making a switch into web design, I never thought about making the jump until after I really felt unfulfilled—and I wish I'd done it sooner. As long as you have the drive and skills, you're never too old to pursue your dream job!
Talk it out with friends
This is a challenging time, so talk it out with your friends and family to relieve whatever worries or stresses you have! You don't need to feel embarrassed or judged about leaving a stable job to get what you want. Those close to you will love and support you in whatever you choose to do.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Transitioning jobs also means a drop in income. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to move back home to save money on rent—I did! After all, it's only temporary and there's no one better to provide emotional support than your family. Not to mention, now you actually have time to spend with loved ones!
Create a routine
Going from a 9 to 5 job to suddenly facing an open day can leave you lost and unsure of what to do with your time. While it's ok to spend some days waking up at noon and lounging around in your jammies, create a routine so you don't fall into a slump. Start a to-do and goals list (tools like Evernote.com is your best friend!) of what you want to do everyday, from running errands to researching sources for your new career path. Plus, there's nothing more satisfying than crossing things off your list to know that you're being proactive.
Don't feel guilty about taking some time to do fun stuff
Embrace your funemployment while you can! When else will you have time to binge-watch Friends on Netflix? Getting some R and R and regrouping is important while you make your transition so you can feel energized to move forward.
Sitting at home and constantly focusing on making your next move will leave you burnt out. Take up a healthy habit that enriches you mentally and physically—I've taken up yoga and it's my weekly go-to for relieving stress!
Always be learning
Learn more about the career path you want to get into by taking extension courses (I've just finished a year-long web design program), classes at your local community college, or even internships—it's one of the best things you can do while transitioning careers. The people you meet here could mentor you and help make connections! Include these classes or internships in your resume so future employers know you're using your time wisely, and that you're building up relevant skills.
Get a part-time job
The bills still have get paid! It's always a good idea to have some money saved up before you leave any job. In the meantime, take up a part-time job in any field to help pay the bills and leave you time to get into your new career (whether it's taking classes or sending off resumes). And you never know—your part-time job connections could pay off in the future!
Go on a solo vacation
Before you start the grueling job hunting process again, take a solo vacation to re-charge. Now that my classes are done, I'm planning taking a short, 4-day trip to Hawaii to spend time with me, myself, and I. Even if you can't book a plane, taking a little jaunt somewhere close by can really help refresh your mental state. Don't feel guilty of celebrating your accomplishments!
Know that things take time
It's important to look back and see all the progress that you've made and know that everything will happen with persistence and time. There's still portfolios to be updated, resumes to be sent, and interviews to be taken before I fully launch into my new career, and that may take a few more months. And that's OK. After all, great changes never happen overnight.
Mukkitu Hossain is a 20-something-year-old woman living in the San Francisco Bay Area. When she's not perfecting her downward dog, she can be found scouring the Internet for design inspiration, shamelessly binge-watching Netflix, and planning her next travel adventure.
[Image via Universal Pictures]