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Maintaining Financial Wellness During a Career Change

If fears about money have stopped you from pursuing an alternative career path, keep on reading. This piece is for you.

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I get it—you have responsibilities, a family, probably a mortgage, bills to pay, futures to save for. While career changes can be rewarding, they can also be bumpy. And you’re wondering is now really a good time to pivot in your career? 

And yet…you can’t imagine waking up a week, a month, a year from now feeling as lost and miserable as you do now. You’re tired of dreading Mondays, but feel overwhelmed at the thought of potentially ruining yourself financially in the pursuit of something better. 

Let’s get in all out on the table: it’s completely possible to transition into a new career with limited amounts of stress and no financial ruin. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. 

Here are some strategies you can implement to make your career transition a financially smooth and rewarding experience. 

COMMUNICATE YOUR CHANGE

The first step is to have that first big conversation. While it may be scary, especially if you’re the breadwinner or you’re counting on your current job for insurance or certain benefits, the fact is you’re unhappy and you’ve been thinking about this change for a while, if not consciously certainly subconsciously

The hardest part of undergoing a career transition is realizing that this change doesn’t just affect you; it affects your family as well. Being clear and honest with your family about your current situation is crucial to getting everyone on board. 

Maybe you start this conversation by saying that you are unhappy in your current position and you need to figure this out with their support. Be honest that you’re not sure how this is going to turn out, but that it’s probably going to mean some shifts or changes in the household. While there may be some hard days, you might also find that your family has noticed how unhappy you are in your job and want to do all they can to support you in the next phase of your career. 

DO YOUR RESEARCH

One of the best ways to financially prepare for your career change and ease your family into this adjustment is by doing your homework. Once you know where you want to go, make sure you clearly understand the steps involved in your career move. How long will it take to transition from one career to the next? What are the job prospects in your new field? How will this change affect your income and expenses? Is your family fully on board?

While a career change is more of an organic process with no certain timeline and as many possible downs as there are ups, by preparing a budget and tentative timeline for achieving your career goals you can provide solutions to potential problems and show what those solutions could look like. 

STUDY YOUR CASH FLOW

When trying to plan for possible changes in income or expenses, one of the first things I suggest is taking a look at your recent credit card statement and tracking your expenses. How many monthly recurring payments do you have for something that’s no longer benefitting you? Do you have a gym membership that you haven’t used, or maybe there’s some monthly service that you had when the kids were younger that’s no longer needed? 

While making this new dream a reality can be full of concerns regarding costs, easing this fear is simply a matter of looking at the average cost of where you want to go and coming up with a plan to get there. Most times, the dollar amount isn’t as scary as you believe. By aligning your numbers with your dreams and values, you can really sit down and say this is what’s important, this is what my goals are, and this is the real number I’m shooting for. 

And you know what? It also gives you the confidence to pivot in your career because you can say, “Alright, I’m making X amount, so if I take a 10% drop we’ll still be okay because it won’t affect me as much as I had previously thought.”  

It’s so important to look at your spending and see where your expenses are because if your values don’t align with your monthly statements, you’re going to continue in your current cycle of dissatisfaction and unhappiness. 

IDENTIFY YOUR OWN VERSION OF FINANCIAL WELLNESS

What I often find when talking with my clients is the identity they associate with their income level. More specifically, the mindset that has led them to believe that if they’re not making a certain amount, they’ve somehow failed. 

The truth of it is a lot of career unhappiness stems from chasing an old story or living someone else’s plan for success. If you’re making $250,000 a year and are unhappy, making $175,000 while striving for a different definition of success doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you more aligned with who you are.

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when undergoing a career change is the concept that your success isn’t necessarily about the numbers. It’s about the person behind the numbers and what your goals are in terms of your family and personal happiness. 

That is the true purpose behind your career change; the chance to wake up every day feeling excited, fulfilled, and happy. Numbers are numbers. But job satisfaction? Now that’s priceless.  

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