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Stuck in the wrong career?

Posted by | September 2, 2015 | Advice, Career

Via The Times of India : Stuck in the wrong job? Brave enough to have changed careers, three go-getters explain how you can exchange ‘earning a living’ to `living a life’.

Strong performances certainly helped make Raju Hirani’s 3 Idiots a record breaking success, but more than the calibre of its actors, what seemed to resonate more with the country’s young audience was its message -one’s career choice should not be dictated by parents or peers. It should, instead, reflect one’s own predilections. Shalini Umachandran’s new book You Can Make Your Dreams Work profiles 15 individuals who have managed to fight against all odds and pursue a career option of their choice years after having started out in another profession.

Umachandran says the motivation was simple -people switched careers to follow their own interests or passions. “Not all of us have one overarching passion. We don’t always know what we want, but you need to zero in on what you like most,” says the author and journalist. Most of the profiles in Umachandran’s book are of people who had spent five-six years in a certain profession before they decided to make a shift. So, one would imagine that they had a body of work to fall back on. But Umachandran informs that none of them considered their previous profession as a backup. “When you decide to take the plunge, you ought to have an ‘all or nothing’ perspective.If you have a ‘plan B’, you won’t be as committed. They also said it is best not to give oneself a deadline like: ‘I’ll try it out for a year’,” explains the author.

Featured in Umachandran’s book, here are three career mavericks who have managed to ditch their old jobs to follow their dream. They tell us how to figure out if you’re in the wrong profession, find what’s best for you and prepare for metamorphosis.


Abhijit Barse was living the great American dream after a PhD in aquatic toxicology. He had joined a German company in the US as a toxicologist, but a year and a half later, he somehow felt empty.

Barse returned to India and decided to teach at a college in Nagpur and then quit teaching to join Nagpur-based Slum Soccer in 2010, an organisation that uses football to keep kids in school and off drugs.”


Today, there are a lot of ways to find out what would be your ideal job. There are consultants who help you do that. Figure out what is it that drives you. For someone hoping to make more money, it’s a no-brainer. But if there’s something missing at work, you surely need to evaluate your priorities. If you’re always complaining about work, you’re in the wrong job.


If you’re just beginning your career, it’s easier to make a shift. As time passes, responsibilities pile up and you can’t chuck one job and pick another easily. I didn’t do it overnight. I eased myself into it. A change of job can leave you with psychological problems, especially when you go from a `9 to 5′ job to one where you don’t have assigned timings. When I started out, there was no money, projects or structure, so I had to study about the field. This is essential before you nose-dive into a new profession. You need to know exactly what your job description would be and what the job entails.


Vikram Bhat, a Wall Street analyst in New York, gave up his 10-year career in finance and computer engineering in 2008. Having moved to Bangalore, Bhat decided to teach in a school for children from low-income families.


Financial security is the biggest obstacle when trying out a new profes sion. At 33, when I decided to figure out what I wanted to do, I was old enough to not have to listen to my parents. My wife is a doctor and it helped that she had a stable income and was willing to support me. The biggest challenge when you enter a new career is that you have unrealistic expectations about how satisfying it will be. We all have a certain vi sion of ourselves, but we don’t build on it much. Try to figure out how practical or impractical that vision is by making it more realistic for yourself.


Before you take up a new job, an internship can help bridge the gap, as it did for me. From the outside, it all looks great, but it has to make sense to you on a daily basis. You have to have your basic finances sorted and have close ones on board with your decision. Find yourself a mentor and periodically remind yourself why you made the shift. You have to be patient as you will face disappointment in your new career. You need to envision the progress you see for yourself in this new chapter.


Piya Bose ditched the legal profession to launch Girls On The Go, an allwomen’s travel company, in 2008.Initially clueless about what she wanted to do, the former corporate lawyer’s only mission was, ‘I would rather live than spend my life earning a living’.


I was working at a reputed law firm in Mumbai and I took home a fat paycheck. But the work I was doing failed to inspire me. I had no doubt that I was stuck in the wrong job.Stepping into a new profession without a guide was a trial by fire. Startup cash was a challenge. I overcame that with a zero-cash business model. Entrepreneurship is all about unpredictability, a certain risk appetite and having faith in the invisible forces that govern the market. I once went through a prolonged rough patch when things didn’t work out as planned. I encountered aggressive clients and started losing faith in myself, but I couldn’t give up.


The only way to figure out your best career choice is through a series of eliminations. Be clear about the reasons you are opting for a career change. Is it only because you will earn more or is it because you want a new lease of life? Treat it as an adventure and you will stay inspired when the going gets tough. If you are able to hold on even when you’re at the bottom, the rewards will be very satisfying.

Source: THE TIMES OF INDIA | Stuck in the wrong career?

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