Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

People are more likely to act on concise advice even though it lacks comprehensiveness. To that end, here’s the second in a series of short-form answers to questions that have often been discussed at book length.

Should you change careers?

First, let’s be clear, we’re not talking about changing jobs within the same career nor a modest pivot such as from child therapist to adolescent therapist. We’re talking, for example, from psychologist to teacher or writer.

Second, I must offer a needed antidote to the media’s implying that career change is easier than it is. The media cherry-picks success stories without acknowledging the many people whose attempts to change careers fail.

But let’s say you realize you've had enough of your career and know that a career tweak won’t suffice. Successful career changers usually have one or more of these going for them:

  • They’re quick learners so they can acquire sufficient expertise while in their current career or quickly thereafter so they don’t go broke before making a decent living in the new career.
  • They have the money for retraining while living without income. Or they have the bandwidth to work and retrain simultaneously.
  • They know someone who will hire them despite being a newbie. That’s particularly likely if a career requires mainly soft skills, for example, communication and organization.

So, in light of the above, should you:

  • Try to change careers?
  • Pivot within your current career?
  • Change employers but stay with the same kind of work?
  • Stay with your employer and tweak your job description or attitude, or boost your skills?

Should you become self-employed?

Like changing careers, becoming self-employed is harder than the media would have you believe.

You really do need to be:

  • A self-starter. No one will push you to keep working.
  • Able to handle diverse problems on the fly—Time is money, and you can’t afford to hire help for too many things.
  • Smart about buying low and selling high and knowing when not to spend at all.  Indeed, many successful start-ups remain as one-person shows operated from home as long as possible, hiring as little as possible. Scared to start or run your business on your own? Rather than take a partner, hire a consultant short-term, or a trusted friend ongoing for a few hours a week.
  • Resilient, not getting freaked-out by setbacks yet wise enough to know when to cut your losses.

Honestly, do those describe you?

Note: You do not need an innovative business concept. Indeed, it’s wiser to clone a well-proven concept, from flower cart chain to laundromats. New ideas are too prone to fail: You misread the market, have no comparable businesses to copy ideas from, plus you have to educate your market on your innovation.

Note too that I didn’t suggest any sexy businesses, such as high-tech, biotech, environmental, fashion, or media. Intelligent people start such businesses. You want competition that isn’t so smart.

Other installments in this Short Answers series can be found HERE. I plan to write additional ones. Feel free to email me a question you’d like me to address in a Short Answer. They can be about career, education, relationships, recreation, even a philosophical question. My email address is mnemko@comcast.net.

Dr. Nemko’s nine books are available.You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at mnemko@comcast.net.

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