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Have you ever contemplated changing careers?

Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by stratokaster, Feb 3, 2011.

  1. stratokaster

    stratokaster Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Kiev, Ukraine
    I mean - radically changing. For example, I am a journalist (dare I say - quite successful), but sometimes I really want to abandon my current career and become a carpenter or a cabinet maker.

    I love wood. I love its texture and its smell. When I was a child, I loved working with it and making all kinds of things (mostly useless, of course). I live in a rather small flat right now and have no space for a woodworking workshop, but I really miss the ability to make something with my own hands.
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  2. bilzmale

    bilzmale Super Moderator Emeritus Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2010
    Perth, Western Australia
    Bill Shinnick
    I stayed teaching for my whole career life but often wished I'd tried music full-time. If your financial circumstances permit, doing what you love most can be very rewarding.
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  3. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    done it twice I think , last time starting age 40 ... took me ten years and a lot of heartache and debt to get there too, this time, ... no regrets though ... if you have a supportive partner or close friends and family it's a lot easier ... don't believe anyone who suggests only those who have no ties or commitments can contemplate it (it's really hard doing it solo) ...
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  4. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Doing what you love most for a career can be the best thing in the world if you can make it work on your own terms. But if its a passion a lot of people share and its tough to make a living, you can end up hating it if you have to compromise too much to make a living. I've been an urban planner for my career. I used to joke I got into planning because the Stones didn't need a bad 3rd guitarist and the Celtics didn't need a short, slow guard with a lousy jump shot. I liked it and was good at it and was proud of my work, but it was never a passion except in a real long term, slow burn kind of way.

    But the things I've done with any passion, music, cycling, photography, computers for a while in the early days before they were consumer goods, are all probably better left as hobbies. I can do them on my own terms without having to shoot weddings, play bad covers in cheap cocktail lounges, or babysit a bunch of tourist bike riders while they limp around Amish country. Not that there's anything wrong with these things if you like doing them - but most people don't. My niece is a really good artist with a masters in fine arts, doing some really interesting photography. Now she shoots weddings and is happy for the work, but its not what she had in mind. I did a mountain bike tour our in Utah a few years back and one of our guides had been a world class racer for a few years, but not quite good enough to make more than a hanging-on kind of living at it. He made a good show of being a guide, but you could tell it was just a paycheck for him since he couldn't make a living doing the part of the sport he loved. On the other side of it, I had a friend who was into carpentry and got into custom furniture making and loved it for as long as he lived, so its possible, but the odds aren't great, depending on the career choice. My daughter is a piano performance major in college and the piano is her life and I just HOPE she can find a way to make a living at it that doesn't kill her soul, or make a living doing something else so she can keep doing music the way she loves it. But I worry about how she's going to negotiate that difficult territory. If you're good enough and driven enough to pursue your passion with enough drive to make a living at it on your own terms, I'm sure its the most rewarding thing in the world. But if you're not, you can end up hating something you really started off loving - I've seen it happen to plenty of people. In which case it may be better to leave it as a hobby. Tough call - good luck. I like my hobbies unencumbered by the realities of the marketplace, but that's probably my personality more than anything. Your mileage may very well vary!

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  5. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Very thoughtful replies to your question, stratokaster. I've changed careers way too much and am now basically retired. So much of this career changing has to do with timing and, I believe, "drive", as well as reality.

    My husband is a carpenter but he does not get to do what he loves to do too often. Stratokaster is there a way that you can find someone with whom you can share tools and/or share a small space to work? If you could, even if it was on the weekends from time to time...that might be a way to get started and enjoy yourself without taking a plunge and losing your financial security while you're figuring things out?
    • Like Like x 1
  6. AzPete

    AzPete Veteran

    Dec 24, 2010
    I was in the sales force for 30 years, and drifted around various companies throughout. At the age of 50 I left sales, sick and tired of all the
    young (present company excluded) idiots on the fast track, full of piss and vinegar willing to stomp on anyone to get ahead. I decided to change my path
    and found a job in a school district's PR dept as the districts photographer and videographer. Duties: to produce videos to showcase teachers, staff
    and students work and successes. OMG what a great job I have for 10 years. Loved it. Lost it. Yes, good things dont last forever and thru lack of money
    I was let go and put to pasture.

    Now I get up early each morning, hit this site and anxiously wait to see what happening :redface:

    If you want a suggestion here, I would say go for your dreams. Easier said than done, I know. Especially in this day and age. Good luck all.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    It's true that regret is a very unpleasant passtime. Temperament, timing, finances, drive, talent and hard work all come into play - and luck or fate depending upon one's philosophical point of view.

    Stratokaster, I forget if we know how old you are...but some of us are approaching "mid life"...Isn't 60 the new 40?:wink:

    If you can do it, and as pdh so wisely discussed get the support (emotional and financial I'd say), then start testing the waters. As another member here advised me with regard to my soon to be graduating from college offspring's future: figure out what your five year goal and work backwards...as he said, the goal may change but you will be taking action and moving forward and finding your way.

    I have a family member who is very creative, but he fell into the banking business when he first got out of college due to a friend's father....and he stayed with that bank for his entire career. Initially he enjoyed himself but it became clear that he was just putting in the hours and really would have been much, much happier had he pursued another path.

    I know that all sorts of things compel us to remain doing what we do - children, finances, fear, unstable economies, personal problems, health issues...but for those who can find their way and keep the balance healthy, whether it be a career change to a passion or a way of combining work and pleasure in a more even handed way, it has to be the best thing for our short time on this earth. Keep the faith and your love of wood, stratokaster!
    • Like Like x 1
  8. wt21

    wt21 Hall of Famer

    Aug 15, 2010
    I'm in sales (funny -- no one ever regrets looking back, saying "I wish I had been in sales" :) 

    But about 10 years ago, I was laid off just as we knocked down the back our house for a 1400 square foot addition. So, I ended up doing most of the finish work myself. Like you, I fell in love with working with wood, and I got many, many compliments on the finish carpentry around the house. I think I did a better job than a number of contractors I've used. BUT I can't do it fast enough (and therefore can't make a living). I did dabble in more "serious" carpentry (i.e. actually making products out of wood), but I don't have the workshop space. They have great schools for that in the northeast. If I ever hit the lottery, I would seriously consider going to one of those schools, and then having a go at it. Can't do that without the lottery, though, as my kids need to eat and maybe even some day go to college!
    • Like Like x 2
  9. Djarum

    Djarum All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    This is a really interesting question. I'll be 30 in a few months and due to certain circumstances, I really have been evaluating my current job. For my talents to come through, I have to be really interested in what I am doing. At the moment, I am extremly unsatisfied and rather bored with my current job. I just got out of college a little over 6 years ago, and I know some of you might think I'm crazy. How can I be bored after only 6 years? The whole truth is that I have been doing computer programming since I was about 12. I started with BASIC, moved to QBASIC, PASCAL, C and C++. It was satisfying during my high school career to be good at something that only a few could do. Moving on to college and well, everyone knew how to program. I was going to go and get an EE degree but I found out that at the time, most EE curriculums were divorcing themselves from programming since CPE/CE (Computer Engineer) was becomming dominant profession in terms of doing embedded or real time programming. However, during my last year of college I really took a liking to doing Verilog/VHDL.

    When I got out into the career world and started interviewing, no one wanted someone to do "hardware programming" if you will, that didn't have an EE degree. The real issue was that my university pushed hardware programming into the CPE curriculum and not into the EE curriculum. The problem was, I lacked the knowledge of doing hardware design around programmable logic parts. So I ended up doing embedded software programming since I was still proficient at it. Six years later, it is just no longer gratifying anymore. Part of the problem is the company politics, especially working for a small company where I know about just about everything that goes on within the company. It is a shame when the engineers have really good ideas, sellable ideas for real products, yet the company does not have the resources to implement such ideas.

    So what would I do?

    Just for some more background, I was in retail for almost 8 years. I worked a year and a half for RadioShack, and then I worked almost 6 years in the paint business. Working in a paint store was one of the most gratifying jobs I could have ever had. Mixing paint, matching colors, and solving contractor or customer problems was really fun.

    I realize that in general that doing sales is really cut-throat. However, I think my talents as an engineer could be well suited for doing technical sales. I think I would find it a more gratifying and challenging job. However, in the business I currently work for or for many businesses in general, its primarily about just getting the sale at all costs instead of actually providing a solution for a customer. It is also an issue because I don't have a business degree (for whatever its worth, I'm not sure why that is required to sell something). At the end of the day, I'm not sure how gratifying that would be either.

    I applaud anyone who can do what they love for a living. It makes life so much more enjoyable. The idealist in me believes everyone should be able to do what they love, but bringing it back to reality, as Ray eluded to, it can be tough.
    • Like Like x 1
  10. Djarum

    Djarum All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    A little off topic.

    My father was a woodshop teacher and a carpenter. He has made some beautiful furniture for people and for our family. The problem is, the only people who really value handmade furniture anymore are those who can really afford it. After he retired, he tried to get into making handmade furniture again, but he had a hard time selling it, even when the economy was good.
    • Like Like x 1
  11. TraamisVOS

    TraamisVOS Hall of Famer

    Nov 29, 2010
    Melboune, Australia
    I'm in the process of changing careers right now. I graduated with a science degree and worked in medical research for 7 years but got to the point where I was asking myself "what do I really want to do".

    Film was something which I had wanted to do since I was a kid. On the other hand, law was something which could allow me to directly engage in issues that interest me, and it's also probably the more pragmatic choice since the film industry is fickle and success is not guaranteed. So I applied and was accepted into both programs at two universities, I resigned from my job in research and went back to being a full time student that year. The film studies was a one year graduate diploma (Mon to Thurs), while I went to my JD classes on Fridays. I averaged about 1 hour of sleep each night that year because I also worked nights in various jobs to pay the bills and the mortgage (it was at the height of the GFC). I graduated with the graduate diploma that year and am now in my final year of the JD.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    I definitely take my hat off to you, James. Just a few more months!
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Andrewteee

    Andrewteee All-Pro

    Jul 8, 2010
    Oh my yes! Contemplated it numerous times. Career counseled, talked to others in other fields, dreamed. So far still do what I've always done, though admittedly it can be invigorating at times and I'm always learning something new. But my career (user experience design) is kind of a young persons career and I'm starting to feel old in it (been at it nearly 20 years). And I think to myself that it's more than 20 years till retirement. Whether or not I choose to stay here or not at some point I'll be too far over the bell curve and I'll have to move on.

    However, here is a story based on an article I just read a few days ago. If you love coffee and think it would be great to open a coffee house think again. You are no longer a coffee enthusiast but a business owner. Hiring staff, keeping books, dealing with permits and customers and vendors... For some this kills the passion for the original interest. But of course for others who also enjoy the business side of it it's fantastic.

    I love photography, but I would not make a career out of it (partly because no money in it, take too long to train properly) because for me it is a passion, it is relaxing, it is fun. Though I am serious about it I don't take it too seriously. If it was work it would be serious.

    I've often considered woodworking myself. I love wood, I love to use my hands and I'm creative. But I passed. I also considered food or cooking, but the hours there are very, very long and it is very intense. One interesting recommendation was as a museum exhibition installer.

    Right now things are fine. I still enjoy my work for the most part, it provides a good income and benefits, the commute is easy, the hours are reasonable, and they are flexible when family needs arise, and it allows my wife to work part-time. At times I feel very complacent, but with a young family and my wife and I doing our best to equally share the responsibility of raising our kids it works for where I am in my life. As the kids get older I probably will consider a change. I want to do more good and I feel that it would be the right time to return my skills I've mastered over the years back to the community so to speak.

    I'd like to add that when I was in college I did some in-depth career testing. What came out of that and "discovering" how much fun art and creative endeavors could be during my last year of college led me to my current career, and for a long time it was absolutely a passion. To me, work has always been about doing what you enjoy and what you are good at. We all have natural abilities than can be developed. I've always encouraged that and even considered career counseling as career because there is so much value in it. People who love what they do and are good at it benefit others. And my dad always said that they did not care what we did as long as we did the best we could at it. They always valued education throughout one's life. Keep learning, as they say.

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