A new career may seem very glamorous, but speak to folks in the field and understand what it entails.
Be sure this isn't a case of the grass looking greener on the other side, warns engineer turned author Rashmi Parekh.
Switching careers is not an easy job.
Nearly all of us have responsibilities that cannot be overlooked.
But have you ended up feeling like a hamster on its wheel -- running hard but getting nowhere?
Think back to when you were a starry eyed teenager. You were most likely told that you could be anything you wanted to when you grew up -- but with a caveat - you need to make a living and support yourself.
Do you look back to that time and wonder: 'What if...?' What if you had followed your dream of being an artist? An actor? A sportsperson? An astronaut? A musician?
Would you have found yourself at a more fulfilled place right now?
Before you decide that you want to take that leap of faith and make a career switch, ask yourself these important questions.
1. Are you feeling intellectually unmotivated and unsatisfied in your current job?
Why are you looking for a change?
Is it because you feel unfulfilled or is it because you are going through a rough patch at work?
A difficult boss or colleagues who do not like you aren't reasons enough to change your career entirely.
2. If you did not have to worry about your paycheck, what would you be doing?
Most times what we choose as a career is motivated by salary.
Of course, no one can live on love and fresh air alone, but asking yourself what you would do if you weren't worried about the paycheck will help you understand where your true interests lie.
3. Will your new career help you grow as a person?
As a society we are slowly learning to accept that our relationships with others are always evolving. We can surely accept changes in our personal likes and dislikes as well!
I was fascinated with the world of computers and software in my teens and had many fulfilling years working in that space. But, then, being a mother brought me great happiness.
Now, I have rediscovered my love for writing. I believe that each phase and role has added a new dimension to my personality.
4. Have you done some organized soul-searching?
Make a list of careers and interests that motivate you.
Differentiate between a hobby and something you would like to dedicate a majority of your time and energy to.
5. Are you prepared for the naysayers? Do you believe in yourself?
Two closely related questions.
As long as you follow the tried and tested path, society doesn’t blink.
The minute you quit a stable job and decide to do something completely different, the risky move brings out the critics from the woodwork!
Do you have the gumption to stick to what you believe in?
Get advice from your trusted core group of friends and family but for the naysayers, know how to let their negativity slide off your back.
6. Have you done your research about the new career?
Do your homework!
A spontaneous new career may seem very glamorous but speak to folks in the field and understand what it entails.
Be sure this isn't a case of the grass looking greener on the other side!
7. Do you have it in you to handle two careers at a time?
Sometimes it's better to take things slow.
Juggle your job and explore your new career at the same time. It will help alleviate some of the risk.
8. Do you need any training -- either on the job or by enrolling in a class?
Accept that you may need some help learning the ropes for your new career.
Either find a mentor who can help you or take some extra classes -- there are many in-person and online options available.
9. Are you willing to invest at least 5 years to giving this new career a chance?
You have to be realistic when switching careers.
An expectation of instant gratification will be your downfall -- you have to work hard at it and not get deterred.
10. Five years from now, will you look back with regret if you do not make the switch?
Whatever your reasons for making the switch, the bottom line always needs to be your own satisfaction and happiness.
Only then will you feel proud that you gave yourself a chance.
Rashmi Parekh is a computer engineer with a master's degree from The University of Southern California. She recently published her book of poems Inscape - Lost Words Found.