Lansing's Advice Column
I have been a social worker for nearly twenty years. I have job security and am making good money. There’s just one problem: I feel stuck and unfulfilled. My job no longer poses the challenges nor offers the excitement that it once did. I have always enjoyed interior design and have spent a lot of time decorating our home and cottage. Over the years, family and friends have asked me for advice about decorating their own homes. Some of them say that I should quit my current job and become a full-time interior decorator. Do you think that is wise? Should I just dive into a new career? Part of me wants to do just that, but I need some advice.
The idea of starting a new career is an excellent one. However, ask yourself this question: Am I running toward the dream or running away from the nightmare? You need to examine why the need for a change. The career path you hope to pursue is a 180 degree change from your current job. It has financial and professional risks. Depending on your situation, it might be worth taking a few risks.
Here are a few guidelines that might assist you in the decision making process. First, ask some basic questions. “Why do I want to change careers?” Is it your current workplace, the fact that you might have been passed over for promotion, the type of work not to your liking or do you truly wish to be the Martha Stewart of Tompkins County. If you’ve lost all interest and motivation in social work, want out of this career path and long for fabric and tile, then you are indeed running toward the dream.
Once you have answered the “Why” question, then you ought to proceed to the “How” part of the equation. “How will I begin my new career?” Since you have been advising family and friends as an interior decorator for several years, and with some success, why not try it on a part time basis. Continue to work at your current place of employment, but reserve some nights and weekends for your interior decorating endeavors.
Be very careful not to mix the two careers. You may be tempted to take a few phone calls or answer some emails on “company time.” This is a big NO-NO. Establish firm boundaries regarding telephone calls, emails, and other business dealings. If you do not have a cell phone, get one for business purposes. Do not use your office phone to handle any personal transactions. What you do on your own time is your own business. What you do on company time should be company’s business.
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