Three reasons you won’t change your career…but maybe you should

Original article was published by Sue Turner on Artificial Intelligence on Medium

Three reasons you won’t change your career…but maybe you should

My unread book pile keeps growing

The month since I left the security of an established career for the uncertainty of retraining in Artificial Intelligence and Data Science has gone by in a flash. I’m in the habit of being busy so my days are filled not only with the Masters study, but also with learning coding for website development, how to use online repositories like Github, studying for a post graduate qualification in corporate governance and probing the latest theories on the ethics of artificial intelligence. How is it that I’ve still not got time to read all those books I set aside for this supposedly quiet time?

I’ve been staggered by the number of people who’ve been in touch to ask how they could change careers too — if only we could fuel the planet on all this yearning for a different life! But most people stay stuck in their rut so here are three reasons you won’t change your career but maybe you should …

  1. Now’s not the right time for me
    Financially you’ve got obligations — from the mortgage and student loan repayments to credit card debt and car payments. These aren’t going to stop any time soon so if you look for the right time financially to make your career change it’s never going to happen. A career change can give you the prospect of earning more so can you save a little each month to build up a financial bumper that will let you step off the treadmill and earn less for a while?
    Emotionally it takes strength and self-confidence to jump towards a new career direction so if you are ground down by your current role (perhaps you hate your boss, perhaps the role just makes you miserable) then you simply don’t have the emotional energy to envision a new future and “go for it”. But when you think about it, you’ll realise it takes a huge amount of energy to stay in the wrong role so how about redirecting that stamina into trying something new?
  2. I don’t know what new direction to choose
    New opportunities are being created every day but what if you choose the wrong one? Maybe you’re a gregarious person who would love to be in the hospitality industry — but that doesn’t look like a solid choice when the COVID pandemic is closing pubs and clubs at short notice. There’s demand for nurses, teachers and police but what if you retrain for one of these roles only to find you hate it? There are career opportunities in cyber security and many areas of technology but if you’re someone whose self-talk says “I’m no good at maths/science” can you change your self-perception and get into a tech-based career? If you’re female, have a look at Code First Girls — they’ve got courses you could try in the evenings or at weekends to see if this could be for you.
  3. What if this is the best I can do?
    Let’s face it, some people are massively confident (over-confident even) but many of us don’t want to be accused of over-reaching. We’re brought up to stick within our capabilities, to think small, so it’s a frightening prospect to think big (and risk failing). By its very nature, our future potential is unknown so what if the job you’re doing today is the height of your career? One of my rules for life is “make the best of what you’ve got” but if you have a voice in your head that keeps telling you “I’m better than this” then you’ve got to explore it.

So maybe you should ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’

Listen, it will never be the right time to make a big move. Sure it’s frightening to step into the unknown, but it’s equally frightening never to think big and to live life regretting never knowing how far you can go. Imagine decades in the future when you’re old and ill, you sense that death is not far away… do you want to be looking back thinking “was that it?” Of course not! When you think about it, your life today comes from thousands of steps, mostly unplanned, that got you to where you are today so why not intentionally add in a new step?

If you wait for everything to align perfectly you’ll wait forever. Sure you don’t want to let your workmates or family down but they wouldn’t want to be the reason you stay in a job that isn’t fulfilling.

My advice is that you should take some time to dream about the future you want. There are great websites like Career Shifters packed full of advice and support for everyone. Don’t water down your dreams to fit someone else’s idea of who or what you are… be what you could and should be.

I still don’t know where my AI adventure will take me but I am determined to have a lot of fun finding out.

PS Thanks to everyone who asked after my son — yes he has recovered from COVID-19 and we’re all now allowed out after our quarantine.