It’s one of the toughest career change scenarios to deal with: you’ve finally decided that it’s time to leave your current job and pursue your dream career. However, your friends and family are convinced you are making a huge mistake. Should you carry on? And can you succeed without the support of your nearest and dearest? If this is a dilemma you’re currently grappling with, here are four things you should do when your friends and family don’t approve of your career change.
One: Find out if their concerns are valid
No one knows your heart as well as you do; however, sometimes your family and friends can see consequences that you can’t because you are too emotionally invested.
If you have been in a career or job you hate for a while, your feelings of desperation, sadness, guilt or fear may cloud your judgement somewhat and in your desperation to escape, you may dismiss any red flags associated with your career change idea.
Because your family and friends are most likely thinking more objectively than you currently are, their concerns are worth listening to. Sit down with as many of them as possible and simply ask them:
- why they think you are making a mistake
- what they would do in your situation instead
Once you have an array of opinions, review them all. What points and concerns keep coming up again? Consider these points objectively. Are they reasonable fears (some won’t be – parents are notorious for growing fearful if their children deviate from the life path they had planned for them)? Is there a good chance of them happening? If they happen, is the outcome they will bring completely unacceptable to you?
Two: Devise a safer career change plan
If after asking yourself these questions you believe that the concerns raised by your friends and family would create a situation that is intolerable for you, it’s time to consider two things. Firstly, is a career change the best move for you or do you just need to move to a company or role that is a better fit for you?
If you are sure you need to make a career change, the next thing to consider is how to make that change to guarantee the best outcome possible. For example, if you plan to quit a highly paid job to pursue a notoriously badly-paid creative career, your family may fear that you will fall behind on your mortgage payments and lose your home. If that is a legitimate fear, consider how you can pursue your passion without losing your entire income. That could involve going part-time in your current job (in a company you actually like) and slowly transitioning to leaving it once you are earning a steady salary in your creative role.
Three: Set boundaries with unsupportive people
Moving forward with a career change is difficult enough without continuously being told you are ruining your life. If you have carried out steps one and two and are sure that a career change is the best thing you can do, it’s time to commit fully. Setting boundaries with the unsupportive people in your life is a great way to preserve your sanity and stay focused throughout your career change.
There are many ways to set these boundaries. Options include:
- directly telling your unsupportive friends and family that you have made your decision and that is that
- avoiding discussing your career change with unsupportive people (you can tell them you don’t want to discuss it moving forward OR you can just avoid that line of conversation as much as possible)
- minimising contact with unsupportive people during your career change – we aren’t advocating cutting off your family, but if there are certain social situations in which you would normally be forced to discuss your career at length, it is worth coming up with ways to avoid these situations when possible
Four: Find an alternative support network
Making a career change can be a long, tiring and emotionally draining process. From tackling your own insecurities about starting from scratch, being too old and failing spectacularly, it can be a very trying time. It goes without saying that having someone you can lean on for emotional support and advice during your career change will be invaluable. If you can’t turn to your family and friends because they are not in support of your career change, it’s worth looking elsewhere.
Attend local events and meetups for career changers, immerse yourself in events in your chosen new industry, check out online groups and forums for career changers and people who are entering your new industry. The more you surround yourself with others making a similar change, the less alone you will feel.
Are you about to make a career change, but feel unsure if you are making the right move? Take a look at this article on how to tell you are making the right decision.
Trying to figure out your next career move?
Sign up for our weekly Get Unstuck emails. They will walk you through your stuck moment and give you the advice and tools you need to create the career you want… one week at a time.