BY SARAH BRYAN
blog post originally posted on Complicated Basic
I remember reading something once about how life does not end at 25 and that we need to stop acting like it does. We can fall in love at 50, find success at 40, change our minds, switch careers, and do something completely different with our lives at 30.
And I know this all probably sounds very obvious to someone in those life stages, but when you’re in your 20s, it really can feel like everything important that is supposed to happen in your life MUST happen now, or it never will. But of course, that’s not true… in the grand scheme of things, life moves quickly. But when you’re in it and truly present, you get an opportunity to savor it- to slow it down.
In that context, life is long. It takes on many different shapes, in many different chapters, over its course. So there’s no reason to panic if by 30 you haven’t somehow accomplished literally everything you’ve ever wished. Also, how boring would that be? What the hell would we do with the rest of our time? Let’s stop buying into the idea that it’s now or never and instead start viewing the actions we take as planting the seeds for all that’s ahead of us. Good things take time, and, as no surprise, choosing your life’s purpose is no exception. Here’s my advice for switching careers in your late 20s:
Don’t let fear keep you there if you feel burnt out and uninterested in your current workplace. Sure, you’re now in your late 20’s and switching careers sounds kind of scary (because we were *supposed* to have this career thing dialed in at the ripe old age of 23??), but what’s scarier- starting over now or spending another year in a place you don’t want to be? Either way, you’ll be uncomfortable, but one is going to get you where you want to go, and it’ll do it much quicker.
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY
Maybe you’re a little burnt out right now, and it’s hard to imagine what the feeling of true joy might be like. That’s okay. Many of us have been there (including me, that’s how this blog came to be). While you may not have the opportunity to just quit and explore for a bit, if you’re truly motivated to get out and make your life what you want it to be, I’d suggest dedicating an hour after work a few nights a week, or a couple of hours on the weekend, to explore you and think about what it is you might like to do. Try different things, reflect back on what you’ve enjoyed in the past, and ask people what they think your talents are. What really fills you up? That’s your direction.
I think my greatest challenge in switching careers was how stuck I was in my ways. I left a regular Mon-Fri, 9-5, for…nothing. I had nothing lined up, but I knew I wanted to write. I thought at first I’d be a freelance writer for others and started this blog to get my creative juices flowing. And, during this time of exploration and learning, I think I really held myself back by trying to uphold the same lifestyle I’d been used to. Like if I didn’t sit at my computer for 8 hours a day, then I was a failure with no purpose. But that’s not how purpose works, and the more I got in touch with my creativity, the more I accepted that truth.
Instead of getting down on myself if things didn’t pan out how I’d planned, I learned to stay flexible and switch things around to make them work for me. Regardless of the schedule, your dream career takes you to, I think there’s so much value in accessing your creativity again. This will keep your mind open, which will help spare you the overwhelming disappointment when something doesn’t work out, which will keep you quick on your feet and able to pivot. You’ll be able to see the big picture, and that will make you much better at whatever it is you choose to do.
My first year cut loose from corporate America has been an interesting one, to say the least. I have felt depressed and lost at times, unsure if I was really capable of finding purpose, let alone fulfilling it. I have also been so happy and hopeful I could hardly stand it. It’s been a rollercoaster, but that’s how (I’d argue) you know you’re on the right track. We’re meant to FEEL in this life, and without a little chaos, I think things would get pretty boring. Trust in yourself and your support system, find your joy, stay open for opportunities to come your way, and don’t overthink it. And, while you’re at it, try to remember that even though our time is limited, you still have so much of it. And the fact that you’re here, spending it thinking about what you want in life and how you’re gonna get there, means you’re spending it wisely.
P.S.- One thing that really helped me get back into a mindset of gratitude and abundance was this daily journal. Try it out and see how it helps you.
Have you switched careers recently? What was your experience, and what advice would you give?