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The Impact of Career Change on My Family and How I Got Through

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For some people, their lives go according to plan. They graduate high school, go on to get a degree, pursue the career of their dreams, find the love of their lives, get married, have children, and live happily ever after. If you’re like me, however, that’s how you would have pictured life, but it didn’t go according to your plans. Though things may have happened “out of order” or not at all, you’re overall pleased with life. You have a beautiful family and you’ve made a pretty decent life for yourself… right?

As happy as I was with life, there was still something missing. I had amazing kids and a husband who adores me, but when it came to my job, it was more like something I did to pay the bills. I ended up getting pregnant in college and chose to raise my family and put my degree on the back burner. I found a decent paying job with the state and had been working there for ten years. Yet I felt no passion or purpose there. I desperately wanted to pursue a career doing something I loved, but walking away from this “stable job”, might do more harm than good to my family. I had to figure something out.

Pinpoint Why You Want to Switch Careers

Deciding to go into architectural design after years of being in nursing was going to be a drastic shift for myself and my family. I knew it would take a little time to get my masters degree in architecture. Before making any final decisions, I wanted to know for sure that this was what I wanted to do. I made a pro and cons list and listed everything I liked and didn’t like about my current job. After reviewing the list I was able to make the determination that it was actually a pretty good company to work for and a great job, it simply didn’t feed my passion or purpose for life anymore.

Recognize the Obstacles/Changes

Now that I was sure that my urge to change careers was driven by passion and not some underlying issue with my employer or coworkers, I was ready to go on with chasing my dreams. Before I present this to my family, I wanted to make sure I was first aware of all the changes this could have on the family dynamics. Some obstacles/changes I considered included:

  • Less time with the family - Since I would not be leaving my old job, but trying to pursue my dream job at the same time, I realized this would reduce the amount of time I had to spend at home. During the day, I’d be at work and at night I’d be focused on my studies.

  • More stress - Although this was a passion of mine, I realized that getting there wouldn’t be easy. There’d be the demands of my responsibilities as a wife, mother, and employee on top of the demands of keeping up with school requirements. After graduating from school I also realized there’d be the stress of searching for a job and going to interviews.

  • One-sided parenting - For the next three or four years I’d be seriously obligated to my studies and maintaining my job. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time I had to be there for my kids. I would ultimately have to rely on my spouse to “pick up the slack”. Though I was sure he’d be on board, feeling as if he was the only one “parenting” our children for the next few years was a bit saddening and could cause him stress.

  • Financial Troubles - I chose to juggle my existing job with my efforts to switch careers, however, this is not an option for everyone. I realize that some will have to take a complete leap of faith leaving their stable incomes behind. Whether you’re the breadwinner or not, this can cause financial strain on the family and reduce the number of resources you have for your children. Even if you juggle like I did, once you land a job in the field of your choice you’ll be starting from the bottom income levels. This means it could take you years to start earning your desired salary.

Decide How to Handle it

I now know why I want to switch careers, what path I’m going to take to get there, and how this will impact my children and spouse. The last thing I did before having a talk with them, was come up with some solutions that would lighten the load. Here are some ideas I came up with:

  • Reducing my regular daily responsibilities to make room for studying and time with the kids.

  • Created a (projected) budget to include changes to my income and/or expenses over the course of the next few years

  • Found ways to cut back on spending to increase the budget

  • Designated times to be with the family (weekly game nights, trips to local museums, and even rides to get ice cream). Whether it was 30 minutes, an hour, or a whole day, it made a world of difference. (One on one time with each child and your spouse is also recommended)

  • Asked other family to help us out (this lightened the load on my spouse)

Now you’re ready to talk to your family. Switching careers is never an easy decision to make, especially when you have children to consider. Though the prospect of you doing something you love and getting paid well to support your family seems nice, there are a lot of changes and obstacles along the way you need to prepare for. Hopefully, this has given you some insight on how to handle something this drastic in your life and get the support of your loved ones to pursue your dream.

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