What is the value of your career? The one you’re in right now, I mean. What value did you give your previous career? Do you feel the same about it now as you did then?
When I was a teenager, I remember reading a newspaper article that suggested that the average North American may go through between 5 and 7 careers. Not jobs. Careers. I remember the shock I experienced from that article, as I was the child of a career policeman and a teacher-turned-postal worker. So… three “careers” between the two parents. A pretty drastic contrast from the future envisioned by the article. I dismissed it and did my best to lock down on one career. The thinking was: if it was getting more and more difficult to hold a single career, there must be a value in holding fewer of them.
There are many definitions of affluence, but one definition eluded me for some time, and eventually became the motivation for my first career switch. Job satisfaction. I thought, for a long time, that no one enjoyed their jobs. I mean really enjoyed them. I was in television, working as a visual designer for video. I worked on Photoshop, a little bit of After Effects, and my primary role eventually had me working on Avid as a video editor. It took me almost a decade, but I became unsatisfied with the day to day. It’s called ‘work’ for a reason.
The technical side of my job was still interesting to me, but I didn’t want to switch from being a video editor to being an engineer. Not that it was a step down, it was just a lateral step too close to home for me to feel comfortable with. So I left television and took my analytical skills to finance and became a financial planner. This was an exciting and important challenge for me! I was to build a business for myself, rely on myself to succeed (or fail while trying), and learn sales techniques, client facing presentation skills, and, of course, investment management (which was a largely analytical role, and something I’d been doing for myself for some time).
Okay, you’re three paragraphs in and asking “what’s the point?”
The point is that some people need a career switch at least once in their lives so they receive breadth of experience and new knowledge.
My second career switch exposed me to another definition of affluence: that of experience and adaptability.
By switching industries altogether, and placing myself outside my comfort zone, I’ve learned about my own ability to speak to clients & stakeholders, to speak with confidence on domain subjects, to speak with experience of how not just the insular design world thinks and speaks, but how the financial infrastructure of society itself thinks and speaks.
It’s not easy and that’s good.
This is actually my third career switch. Fourth career, if you count a year in the military. I learned many valuable lessons during that time, but it was short. I’ve now circled back to design (though more on the strategic side and not so much the visual). I’ve met the new challenge through new education – Growth X Academy. They have been incredibly helpful, and the experience enlightening. There is much to learn. But the uphill battle I face now is definitely a more gentle slope specifically because I’ve taken on steep learning curves before.
The bottom line is that I face my life’s challenges with less fear than ever before. Anyone who has gone through a career change does, as well, and while I’m sure that the law of diminishing returns definitely applies, I feel that more switches has definitely benefited me. I’ve learned through these upheavals that there’s no need to concern myself with how many careers I take. I may well end up at 7 before I’m 70, but I now look forward to what those challenges will bring. I feel enlightened by them. I feel satisfied by them, and we should all look for satisfaction in our chosen vocations.
A smart man pointed out to me that experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. There’s a funny balance in that statement to apply to life, and an excellent thought to dwell on when considering that things aren’t going your way. It’s also an excellent motivator to change what you want once in awhile so that you continue to gain experience, and, generally speaking, improve, and that is the lesson I’ve adopted wholeheartedly.
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