New Year, New Career

Written by Emilie Brunet

It’s officially 2024 and whether you’re a new year’s resolutions person or not the start of the year is almost always a time for reset and reflection.

Maybe your reset for 2024 is a new career.

Before taking the leap however, it’s important to make sure you have all your ducks in a row.

Let’s go over the steps you need to take in order to really embrace a career change.

Is it really the career or is it just the job?

Did you come back from your holiday absolutely dreading returning to work?

If that’s your primary driver for wanting to quit your job, it’s important to take an assessment of whether it’s the job itself or your whole career.

There’s a common saying that goes “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.”

I call bullsh*t.

Tell that to parents who absolutely love their kids but haven’t slept since their toddler was born.

Tell that to managers who love their work, but just went through a round of layoffs.

Tell that to writers who’ve written bestselling novels, but are now facing writer’s block.

Work is work. You don’t need to love it all the time.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to hate it all the time, either.

Just because work is work, it doesn’t mean that you have to spend 40 hours a week in absolute misery.

I’d say a good balance is about 80/20. If you enjoy your work 80% of the work week, but maybe feel dissatisfied, frustrated, less challenged 20% of the time, then you’re probably doing okay. It might not be time to quit just yet.

If that 20% starts to hit 30%-40% it’s a good time to talk to your manager about how you can get it back to 20%.

But maybe you’ve had that chat with your manager, and still nothing’s changed.

If you get to the point where you’re no longer enjoying your work 50% of the time or more, it might be a sign that it’s time to move on.

Alright, so we’ve established that you hate your job.

Now is a good time to figure out whether it’s the job itself or your career entirely.

Take the time to think about what it is about your work that you still enjoy.

Try asking yourself these questions:

If you were doing the same job, but working under a different manager or with different coworkers, would you still hate your job?

If you answered no, first I would suggest talking to HR about opportunities in a different department or working with a different team. If that’s not feasible, then maybe you do need to quit your job, but stay in the same field.

If you answered yes, move to the next question.

If you were doing the same job, but getting paid more, would you still hate your job?

Sometimes we think we hate our job, but in reality, we’re just feeling underpaid and therefore under-appreciated.

If you answered no, see if you can talk to your manager or HR about getting a raise. If that’s not feasible, then maybe it’s time to search for a new job within the same field. Studies show that changing jobs after two years usually results in anywhere from a 10-20% pay increase.

If you answered yes, move to the next set of questions.

If you answered yes to at least two of those questions, then it sounds like you might be in the right field, just not at the right job.

If you answered no, then it sounds like it’s time for a career change.

Here’s a quick summary:

It might be time for a JOB change if:

It might be time for a CAREER change if:

So it’s time for a career change, what next?

If you’ve determined that it’s not the job that’s the problem, it’s your career, let’s go over what you need to do to prepare for the transition.

Step 1. Financial Assessment

Quitting your job without other prospects lined up is always a financial risk, but quitting your job to start a new career altogether means that you’ll likely end up taking a pay cut.

In addition, it’s a lot harder to get access to EI when you’ve quit your job as opposed to being laid off from your job.

So before you quit, make sure you have savings to cover your living expenses for at least 3 months of unemployment plus any additional savings to cover the cost of any courses you might want to take during this time to up-skill.

If that feels impossible, then it might be a good idea to apply for a loan or a line of credit to cover the cost of your schooling.

This financial assessment might mean that you’ll need to keep working for a little bit longer at the job you hate in order to ensure that you have a good safety net before you make the leap.

If that sounds awful, see if you can reframe it. Every single day that you show up to your job means one less day that you’ll have to show up to it in the future and one step closer to your new career.

You can even set up an auto-deposit so that every time you finish your day of work, you move a small amount of money into your savings account.

You can also use this extra time at your work to up-skill (see Step 3).

Step 2. Mental Assessment

Changing careers takes a lot of work and a lot of “grinding.”

We hate the grind. The grind sucks. The grind is an overrated concept that is designed to endlessly make people feel like garbage for not being and/or doing enough.

But sometimes the only way out is to grind.

And sometimes we think we’re ready, but we’re not.

Quitting your job without something else lined up is really scary. You need to be ready to put in the work to hustle to get that next position.

Taking the time to really set yourself up for success here is important.  

Remember that you’ll likely have to sacrifice some socializing.

If the pros of finding a new job do not significantly outweigh the cons of finding a new job, you might want to rethink if you’re ready to quit.

Step 3. Skill Assessment

If you’re thinking about taking the leap to a new career, it’s a good idea to make a very clear assessment of what skills you’ll require for your new path.

How can you work on honing your skills before you quit your job or if you quit your job first, how will you work on honing your skills once you’re unemployed?

Think about courses you can take, people you can talk to, resources you can find.

Maybe you aren’t in a financial position to completely quit your job and start fresh, in that case, consider taking a part-time course to help you up-skill while you’re still working your other job.

Shameless plug: We offer part-time Web Development and Data Science courses.

Taking a part-time course while working is a lot harder to do when you’re already burnt out from your job, so it’s better to do it sooner rather than later.

Changing jobs can be hard, but changing careers is an exciting challenge.

Now that you know what you need to do, go forth and prosper.

Here’s to giving your two weeks notice!

About the author

Hey, I'm Emilie 👋🏻

I'm the Business Support Manager at Journey Education. I have always had a passion for writing, organization and finding creative solutions. I aim to be personable, empathetic and compassionate and believe that kindness can go along way in both business and life.

Having worked and organized with anti-capitalist, feminist and queer organizations, I strongly believe that EVERYONE deserves, not just a living wage, but a thriving wage and that it should be the priority of every business to create an inclusive, caring and diverse work environment that doesn't just ensures the work happens, but allows people to be people while the work is happening!

My approach to everything I do reflects my training in trauma-informed practices, active listening and harm reduction as well as my interest in understand the way people work, behave and exist as their full human self. I want to create safer spaces for people to explore, create and excel in a supportive environment - whether that's in life or at work.