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Husnara Begum, owner & careers consultant

Are you considering a career change but holding out for that eureka moment before taking the plunge? Indeed, are you hoping one morning you’ll wake up and all those ideas of what future direction to take your career in will crystalise and Postman Pat will come knocking with an opportunity from a dream employer? In truth, the likelihood of Postman Pat turning up at your front door is about the same as my husband buying me a unicorn for Christmas or indeed any pressie that I won’t be tempted to re-gift.

My career switch from law to journalism was pretty slick. Once I decided to quit being a City lawyer it took me a matter of weeks to bag a role as a junior reporter on The Lawyer magazine. However, I’m the exception. Unlike most of my career coaching clients, and unusually for me, I quickly reached the conclusion that journalism was the right future route for me. This was mostly down to the fact that as a teenager I often dreamt of being a roving reporter until my careers adviser eventually talked me out of applying for a journalism degree in favour of law.

What’s more, as someone who is highly practical and after some thorough research to fact-check my ideas I quickly recognised the need to up-skill and enrolled on an intensive journalism course. I also did some budgeting after realising that if I were serious about changing careers taking a salary cut, at least in the short-term, was almost inevitable.  And all of this before making a single job application.

Fact-checking, up-skilling and budgeting are all critical stages of changing career direction. Only after fully appreciating which one of your ideas is ‘realistic’ will you be able to move forward. For instance, if you have endless ideas whirling around inside your head that leave you feeling like Spotify is on repeat, fact-checking will help you ditch any that are simply unrealistic or unachievable in the immediate term.

Meanwhile, if your research identifies a gaping hole in your CV (as was the case for me) redrafting it over and over again will not make an ounce of difference. The key here is up-skilling either by completing short courses, volunteering, or dare I say, an internship. Here it’s also worth noting that, as is the case with law, many other professions also require applicants to have passed compulsory vocational courses meaning you may need to consider starting from the bottom rung of the career ladder.

And as for budgeting, setting time aside for some serious number-crunching will make the prospect of taking a pay cut far less scary and in turn reduce the risk of talking yourself out of making the switch.

Granted, none of the above is easy and I certainly don’t want to trivialise a process that for so many of my clients leaves them frustrated and overwhelmed. But without properly thinking through your options, you’re far less likely to reach that eureka moment and chances are you’ll be waiting for Postman Pat for many more months or indeed years to come.

That being said, please don’t worry if you never get absolute clarity and give yourself permission to experiment. Many career-changers move forward through trial and error whilst others take on ‘bridging’ jobs before gradually transitioning into their dream roles. Think of it as me reluctantly accepting my husband’s Christmas gift fully appreciating that in life, we often have to make compromises for the greater good and longer-term happiness.