Why it’s ok to be a multi-careerist and what to do if a change of career scares you

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At the end of my university degree, I realised I didn’t want to be a journalist.

Having spent three years and a lot of money studying writing and journalism, as well as taking countless work experience opportunities, I just knew in my heart that it wasn’t for me.

What was I going to do?

It’s a dilemma so many of us face throughout our education and careers. We follow a path for a certain period of time and then realise it just isn’t a good fit for us anymore. Or, sometimes we’re forced to look for new options either through redundancy or the career and job we’ve worked in becoming obsolete.

It can be a very daunting and overwhelming place to be in, especially if you don’t know what you want to do next or you feel you’re too old for a change. But, as with many challenges in life, it can be a blessing in disguise, and a chance to explore a passion or try something completely different.

In this day and age, it’s becoming more normal to be a multi-careerist. Just take a look at our AAT members and the variety of jobs they’ve had over the years:

Now, it’s all very well me telling you it’s great to change your career and lots of people are doing it, but if you’re scared or hesitant about making that change – whether that’s learning a new skill, seeking out a new job or even starting a business, it can feel quite lonely and there will be all sorts of fears and resistance coming up for you.

To help you start exploring the possibilities, here are some of the common fears multi-careerists face, and how to overcome them.

I’m too old to learn something new

You’re truly never too old to learn something new!

During a brief stay in hospital, my fiancé found himself in a bed next to a 91 year old woman who was studying for a degree in philosophy through the Open University. If she can study at her age, whilst in hospital, then the only thing that’s stopping you is your mindset.

Usually this fear is masking a deeper fear that you will fail, or you won’t fit in. Both very natural, but they’ll keep you stuck if you don’t address them.

Find someone you trust to talk through your fears with, and if you’re thinking of taking a new course, talk to the course provider and they’ll be able to support you. And don’t forget, learning comes in so many forms these days, and caters to all sorts of learning styles and preferences. So if you’ve struggled to learn in the past, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn again.

(Psst – you’re never too young either!)

My CV will look scattered and I’ll look like I can’t commit

This is a hangover from the days when you had a job-for-life and maybe changed companies 2-3 times throughout your career. It’s now so much more common to move around more, and some business and companies actually appreciate the breadth of experience that comes with working in many different disciplines or companies.

Focus your CV on the transferrable skills you’ve learnt throughout your experience, especially if you’ve had a 180-degree career change. Use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your passion and the results you achieved through that change.

I don’t know what I want to do, what I’m good at or what my purpose in life is

This is a dilemma I’ve battled with in my mind many times, and so many of my clients battle with it too. Why? Because we’re conditioned to believe that we should have just one big purpose and passion in life. That works for some types of people who knew from the start that they wanted to be a scientist or a doctor or a writer.

But if you’re like me, you’re likely interested in lots of things and actually feel stifled if pigeon-holed into one discipline or ‘career type’.

The solution? Watch this video, and embrace your multi-passionate, multi-potentialite ways:

What if I change my mind again?

So, what if you do? What’s the worst that could happen?

Really take a minute or two to think about this. I would put money on the answer being something along the lines of ‘everyone will think I’m flaky’ or you’re worried what ‘everyone’ will think.

If that’s the case, I want you to consider who is your ‘everybody’? As Martha Beck explains in her book Finding Your Own North Star (a great read, I highly recommend) it’s usually just 5 or 6 people:

‘In fact, everybody’s Everybody is composed of just a few key people.  Our social nature makes us long to fit in with a larger group, but it’s difficult to hold the tastes and opinions of more than five or six individuals in your mind.  So the resourceful social self creates a kind of shorthand:  it picks up a few people’s attitudes, emblazons them on your brain, and extrapolates this image until it covers the entire known universe.  The vague compilation of folks, you call Everybody, is what psychologists term ‘the generalized other.’

What’s great about this ‘generalized other’ that we create is we can change it – and make our ‘everybody’ a more selective and supportive group of influencers. To find out how, check out Martha’s exercise from Find Your North Star.

And remember, it really is okay to change your mind in life and throughout your career and learn something new.

It’s about the journey not the destination.

If you were wondering what I did after university, here’s a very quick overview of the last 5 years:

I entered the digital marketing world as a blogger and writer for an SEO and social media agency. I then moved into running social media accounts and campaigns for their clients, before becoming a community manager for a start up company. When that ran its course and I realised it just wasn’t for me, I quit and started my first business providing social media training and writing blog content (like this) for companies. I then started coaching people who were looking to start a business, and set up The Freedom Leap. I run both my businesses to date, and also teach Mandala Meditation on the side. You could definitely call me a multi-passionate multi-careerist!

Leave a comment

Answer one or more of the following questions in the comments below. How many careers/jobs have you had? Which of the fears do you face when thinking of learning something new or changing your career?

Extra tips and resources

Adult Learner’s Week

Finding Your Own North Star Martha Beck

Hate your job and fancy yourself as a freelancer? You want to say hello to Jen, our guest contributor with a passion for going for your dreams. When Jen isn’t writing for us about starting a biz, she’s hanging out with her tabby cat Monty and coaching women to quit their jobs and take the leap. She likes jigsaws, cheese, books and crafts and loves nothing more than the feeling of sunshine on her face. Has been known to throw Zumba-moves in front of her idols.

Jen Smith coaches entrepreneurs in social media.

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