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Finding Your Own Measure of Success: Rethinking the Reasons for Switching Careers

Updated: Mar 20, 2023

Break free from conventional thinking as money shouldn't be your only reason for wanting to change careers.

A friend recently shared the following quote by Studs Terkel on a WhatsApp group chat: "Work is about a search for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.” If you're in the fortunate position to be working in a career that gives you the fulfilment and recognition that you desire, and yet the financial compensation seems to be missing, give careful thought before moving on to a new career purely for financial reasons.

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Making more money is by far the most popular reason people give for wanting to change their careers. Naturally, money is a necessity. It's what modern societies have come to agree upon as a method for determining the value of things that may or may not be similar. You need it to keep a roof over your head, to provide for your family, and to put food on the table.

The most common way of earning money is through employment. You are employed by an individual or a company, and they pay you a certain amount of money at pre-determined intervals in exchange for your time and efforts. As just about everyone is familiar with the concept of money, and it's such an important aspect of our daily lives, it makes sense that this would be a motivating factor for changing jobs or careers.

Another reason often provided for switching careers is a desire to be recognised for the work that you do. You may be looking for power or fame, or you simply want less stress and more free time in your life. Those are all common reasons you may be thinking about switching careers.

Reconsider your thoughts

Far too often, people get caught up in traditional or conventional ways of thinking. You think a particular way because you were taught to believe that way and to see the world in a certain way. The clothes you wear and the food you eat are often heavily influenced by what advertisers tell you are popular or cool. If you enjoy wearing a particular shirt, pair of pants, or shoes because you like how they look and feel on you, then by all means, wear that particular item of clothing.

Reassess where your motivation comes from

Do you want to buy a particular pair of shoes because they are all the rage right now? That may not be the best reason for making a purchase. What happens in a few months when some other type of shoe is the new fashion "must-have," and your current shoes are uncool? You can ask yourself the same question regarding switching careers.

Is the reason you are thinking about entering a new field due to wanting more money or more free time? You may believe that is exactly what you want. Ask yourself though, is it really? If you enjoy your job but money is a problem, could you sit down and work out a budget that made more sense for you? This could reveal sources of savings which would meet your financial desires, and you could keep a job you actually liked.

There is nothing wrong with using a traditional measure of success as a reason for changing careers. Just make sure that whatever yardstick you use to measure success in your life takes into account your unique personality, desires, and goals.

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