New Job, New You

I spent 17 years working at a job I hated, afraid to pursue my passions. I've spent the past two years doing something I love, and the difference in my attitude is like night and day. Some folks take the position that a job is just a job, that it's not meant to be enjoyed, but merely to provide an income. I'm not one of these people. Neither is Alexandra Levit.

In her new book, New Job, New You, she writes:

Many people stay in unsatisfying careers because they believe positive change is impossible, [but] finding work that fulfills you and meets your needs is completely doable.

Levit says that people who change careers have several common motivations. Each of the seven chapters in New Job, New You explores one of them:

    • Family — For many people, it's important to put family first. Not every career allows this. In this chapter, Levit highlights ways to shape a career that maintains your income but also allows for time with your loved ones.

 

    • Independence — The number-one reason people want to change careers is a drive for greater independence. They want to work for themselves, or have control of their future. This chapter explores entrepreneurship as a motive for change.

 

    • Learning — For some, the desire to know and do more is the catalyst for career change. Here, Levit looks at folks who have gone back to school or obtained other training in order to shift careers.

 

    • Money — Ah, yes. Our favorite topic at Get Rich Slowly. As you might expect, there are plenty of people who change careers out of a desire to earn more money. This chapter looks at folks who escaped from low-paying careers boost their income.

 

    • Passion — I have a soft spot for this career-change motivation. I've pursued my passion, and it's paid off. I've talked with many others who have done the same. Not everyone can pursue their passions, of course, but if you're one of the lucky few, work can be profitable and fulfilling.

 

    • Setback — Sometimes career change is unintentional. In this chapter, Levit shows how losing your job can sometimes be the perfect launching pad to something completely different.

 

  • Talent — Finally, Levit looks at what happens when folks have talents they just can't suppress. (This motive is very similar to passion — so similar, in fact, I can't really tell the difference.)

Each chapter features real-life stories from five people who started in one career, but in their twenties or thirties experienced one of the above catalysts, leading them to make the leap to something different.

For example, Jason Miller started out in his family's construction business, but he felt like the job was a dead end. He began to dabble with his passion for photography. Levit describes how Miller found a mentor, honed his skills, and started his own business. From the book:

Jason tells those who have identified a passion to assess how important it is to turn that passion into a career. “You have to look at the cost and see if it's worth it to you. If it is, don't stop and never give up unless it sacrifices your integrity or relationships with the people you love. And remember that even if you love what you do, your work should never define who you are.”

There's more to New Job, New You than just stories, though. Each chapter includes a section with tips for putting the change to work. This is motivational and meaty stuff, with steps you can take to explore your own possible career change.

My quibbles with New Job, New You are minor. I'm not a fan of books with quizzes and exercises. (Guess what Your Money: The Missing Manual won't have!) Levit's book has a big quiz called “Should You Make a Career Change?” to kick things off, but it seems pointless. Why not let people decide by reading the book? The end-of-chapter questions and exercises are a little more relevant, but I'd rather have seen the space devoted to even more stories or how-to tips.

I'm a sucker for personal stories. I learn more from hearing how real people succeed than from theoretical advice from “experts”. If you're not a fan of personal anecdotes — if you'd rather just have a list of bullet points that tell you how to get the job done — New Job, New You probably isn't your best choice. Sure, Levit has plenty of concrete actionable steps here, but most of the book contains true-life stories of people who have changed careers.

New Job, New You is a practical, inspirational resource for anyone looking to change careers. These real stories from real people are a call to pursue your passion. If you've been thinking about reinventing yourself in a bright new career, this book can help show you the way.

Note: I actually think this would be a great book to read in tandem with Pamela Slim's Escape from Cubicle Nation [my review]. Read Levit's book to figure out if change is right for you, and then read Cubicle Nation for tips on putting your plan into practice.

 

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CB
CB
10 years ago

I agree that passion and talent are very similar, but I think there are differences. You can actively develop a talent. You practice an instrument or write 500 words a day. Developing passion is more passive. It’s sometimes the byproduct of talent. As you practice more and more, you become better at playing an instrument and therefore want to play more often. Or you may find that while you are technically good, you have no desire to pursue further than technical competence. For example, my wife is going back to school to become a teacher. She likes English and is… Read more »

Mrs. Money
Mrs. Money
10 years ago

I pretty much hate my current job. This year I’m really going to be pouring myself into things that I love. I’m hoping that I will be able to quit sometime this year or next. I want to have a good plan in place first obviously! 🙂

But then I also worry that the economy is so bad I should be thankful I HAVE a job and that I won’t be able to find a new one!

Then I worry that doing what I love could become a chore, you know? http://ultimatemoneyblog.com/can-doing-what-you-love-become-a-chore

What do you think, JD?

Mos
Mos
10 years ago

I find no enjoyment from my current career (good job in an unsatisfying career). Unfortunately, I don’t really have anything I am passionate about.

So, what I need isn’t a book on fulfilling my passion but a book on finding my passion.

Also, my other problem is that, after years of living below my means, I have put myself into a mortgage that demands my current high income. And with the current real estate situation (and my wife) getting out of the mortgage is a non-starter.

Lizabeeth
Lizabeeth
10 years ago

This gives me great hope that I may one day quit my current job to pursue something that I love. At the same time, it brings me fear. Fear that I won’t be able to quit. Fear that my new endeavor will not succeed. Fear that I will fail. To be honest, I’ve gotten quite comfortable in my job. Half of my office was laid off 10 months ago. I received a promotion, but no pay increase. I received much more responsibility, but nothing to show for it.

Rob Bennett
Rob Bennett
10 years ago

I spent 17 years working at a job I hated, afraid to pursue my passions. I’ve spent the past two years doing something I love, and the difference in my attitude is like night and day. I spent nine years at a job that I hated plotting my shift to work I loved. I strongly believe that people should do what they love. But I also strongly believe that it is a mistake to quit a well-paying or secure job just because it doesn’t provide personal fulfillment. My thought is that the reason why we are reluctant to leave jobs… Read more »

Nancy L.
Nancy L.
10 years ago

Coming from a successful artistic career having what many people would consider a “dream job”, I have to point out that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence. Many “dream” positions involve very concrete sacrifices that are not always obvious when you are sitting in a bland grey cubicle wishing and hoping for something better. For example, in my career, while I had a great salary and did rewarding work, it required me to pretty much sacrifice my personal life. I was willing to do that early on when I was childless, but once… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
10 years ago

I got an advanced degree and worked for four years in a field I hated. It wasn’t worth it. I quit, took a 40% pay cut and have been working steadily towards a career that I truly love. I’m still paying off those school loans, but I enjoy my life every day now. You can’t put a price tag on that. But I’ve managed to right-size my lifestyle and start paying off my debt even at my new salary because I have more control in my life. For those who think that finding a new job in this economy is… Read more »

Dale Callahan
Dale Callahan
10 years ago

I hear all to time people worried about doing what they love becoming a chore. Seems odd to me that people will stay where they hate due to fear of what MIGHT happen.

Never take counsel of your fears. (Stonewall Jackson)

Luke
Luke
10 years ago

I’m with Rob on this one and am painfully aware that while my job is not the one for me, it’s the best option at the moment. I’ve been working in my current field for 3 years now, after a year spent studying a Postgraduate qualification to get into it in the first place. Barely a day goes by that I don’t moan about the work (I’m a government librarian for my sins), but unlike some poor folk, I never really expected to like the job 😀 Suffice to say it broke me out of a cycle of shop and… Read more »

Kat
Kat
10 years ago

Don’t know if it’s a plus or not, but I’ve never had the patience to work at something I didn’t love. I always think ‘I only have so many heartbeats – how can I waste any of them?’. It does mean tradeoffs (not necessarily financial) & my solution (like many others) was to start my own business. I’m not any more ‘free’ since running a business means responding to customers and a huge time ongoing time and energy investment, but I can keep tweaking the business focus & structures to match what really matters to me, and find employees who… Read more »

Cathy
Cathy
10 years ago

I’m fortunate that I work a job and career path that I love. It’s a difficult path that pays well and I find personally challenging and rewarding. I’m also fortunate that I happen to be good at it.

Unfortunately, the high pay attracts a number of people who aren’t any good at it, and don’t really love it. Because it is not an easy job, quality suffers. Having to deal with their sloppy work and ‘I hate this job’ attitude is the worst part about it.

Frugal Follower
Frugal Follower
10 years ago

@ Rob: “It is those savings that have made the success of my internet business a good possibility.”

Rob — what exactly *is* your internet business?

Tracy
Tracy
10 years ago

Another time for career change comes with retirement. I have spent a total of 28 years in a rewarding career, much of which I have loved. There are probably things about every job that are distasteful, and mine is no exception, but overall it’s been a great ride. Now, as I approach retirement, I am planning my next occupation to blend with the lifestyle I hope to achieve. It’s exciting, but probably not as scary as starting a new career without a set income from retirement.

Rob Bennett
Rob Bennett
10 years ago

Rob – what exactly *is* your internet business?

The article at the URL below gives the background needed to make sense of the hostility evidenced in this comment:

http://www.passionsaving.com/internet-harassment.html

Rob

Shara
Shara
10 years ago

I think that talent and passion are two completely different things. I like what I do as an engineer, but it isn’t my passion. I am in this job because I have a very real talent for it. If I had to identify a passion it would be something else: teaching, writing, art, I don’t know because I haven’t given myself an opportunity to do any of these for eight hours every day. And like others have said I’m not sure I want to. If I’m happy enough where I am why ruin something I like by doing way too… Read more »

Lesley
Lesley
10 years ago

Shara, I can so relate to what you’re talking about. Sometimes, in all the clamor about how you HAVE to do what you’re passionate about, it’s easy to wonder if “good enough” really is.

Shara
Shara
10 years ago

Lesley, I think “good enough” is great. If your job makes you miserable, then GET OUT! But you often don’t need a complete career change for that. My first job out of school was awful and I almost gave up on engineering, but then I got this job and it’s completely different, though the work is the same. I hated the specific stuff they had me doing and I didn’t even realize it. I have also found that what people are often “passionate” about wind up being the same things, which means there are plenty of people willing to do… Read more »

Cara
Cara
10 years ago

Shara, I agree with you. That’s why it’s so important for people to identify whether they hate their job or hate their career. There’s a big difference. I also studied engineering and ended up changing careers because I hated the engineering work itself, which no job change was going to fix because, as you noted, the work is the same. Now I’m using my day job to support my passion for writing fiction. I want to do it full-time if the opportunity presents itself. But I wouldn’t have known this if I didn’t already experience the realities (and yes, headaches)… Read more »

Tyler Karaszewski
Tyler Karaszewski
10 years ago

I’ve been planning for the career I have since I was about 15 years old. I practiced it for fun in high school. I studied it in college. I joined clubs related to it. I may not always have the job I have now, but I doubt I’ll ever change fields. I still find the work I do fascinating, I still learn new things all the time, and I love the people I work with. Sure, it has its downsides, not everything is always perfect, but everything in life has downsides. You’re never going to find a job where you’re… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
10 years ago

I’ve been working in the same demi-professional field for twenty years now. Many people would probably think that constitutes a “career,” but I don’t see it that way. The work I do isn’t self-directed, it won’t lead to running the business, and it’s certainly not something I do because I love it. But I’m good at it, and I’m well compensated as a consequence. For me, this “career” has served to support everything else in my life that I actively love: travel, dancing, art, books, spoiling my cats. I see nothing at all wrong with working at “just a job”… Read more »

Chett @5k5k.org
Chett @5k5k.org
10 years ago

This topic has been discussed many times on GRS and it always comes back to the point that you should enjoy what you do, but make sure it provides a secure life both personally and financially. As a career switcher myself about three years ago I can tell you there are always unknowns or hidden factors that you fail to see because you are blinded by the desire to be somewhere else. The unknown can motivate you to make a leap, but paralyze you to stay put, because it is unknown. I think “Happier” is kind of like “More” on… Read more »

Kamilah
Kamilah
10 years ago

“Not everyone can pursue their passions, of course, but if you’re one of the lucky few, work can be profitable and fulfilling.”

How can you make a statement like that while encouraging everyone to pursue a career that is fulfilling to them? Are you speaking to everyone or a lucky few? That sort of statement perpetuates the very attitude/feeling about work that you seem to want to discourage. There is an element of drudgery to all work, but when you do work that is meaningful to you those elements are just a part, not the sum of your day.

Steve Miller JD CIC
Steve Miller JD CIC
10 years ago

2009 was a horrible year if you were a lawyer employed at a large law firm. Tens of thousands lost their jobs as the economy imploded. As a result, many of these unemployed lawyers decided to hire themselves by starting their own solo law firms. They remembered that they didn’t leave all of their legal knowledge behind at their previous employer. For as little as $600 they could purchase a time, billing and accounting software program like PCLawâ„¢, operate just as they did at their former employer and keep all of the money from their billable hours. This lesson equally… Read more »

Chett @5k5k.org
Chett @5k5k.org
10 years ago

I found this link about job satisfaction on the Drudge Report today:http://apnews.myway.com/article/20100105/D9D1J3F02.html I wonder if the concern about “job satisfaction” has only become more relevant as our society has progressed towards a more leisurely existence? According to the article 20% more people are unhappy with their work than 20 years ago. It may be that I am to young to know any different, but did the baby boom and pre-baby boom generation fret so much about being *happy* in their careers, or were they simply satisfied to have a means to provide for their family? It seems odd to me… Read more »

Griff (Financial Freedom 5G Team)
Griff (Financial Freedom 5G Team)
10 years ago

I am convinced that i should read the book. Not that I personally need it in order to find what I love to do, but I would like to know how to help others to find that same thing. This year has been a turning point for me. I have been doing what I thought to be what I was born to do, but now I am transitioning into something and am just now starting to feel like it’s where I’m supposed to be. I’ve heard of stories of other people who have taken less paying jobs to do what… Read more »

D
D
10 years ago

The main factors that are motivating me are independence, passion (or the current lack thereof), and money too. I also agree with Rob that you shouldn’t quit a well paying or secure job just because it doesn’t provide a sense of fulfillment. We could find our sense of fulfillment outside of work, through areas such as providing for our families, developing a skill or hobby, etc. However, since most of us spend 40 or even more hours at our job every week, it can be difficult to find enough time to pursue those things that do bring us fulfillment. Often… Read more »

chacha1
chacha1
10 years ago

Hi Chett! I’m hanging out too. No snow day for me – just a SLOW day! Re: hobbies into work: I have a friend who runs a half-dozen home-based businesses. Only one makes a profit and it’s the one he enjoys least. His wife (who does all their business paperwork but whose day job provides their financial security) constantly urges me to turn my Hobbies into cash flow. I constantly tell her that if I had pressure to create, it would no longer be fun, i.e., a Hobby. I have sold nearly everything I’ve made (jewelry/art) but not at prices… Read more »

Mike
Mike
10 years ago

You know, awhile I wrote in stating a lot of these very things. I had a job that paid well, but I was not happy. I got grilled by a lot of people saying I should just be happy that I have a job. Well, to be honest, there is a good chance that this “safe” job won’t be so safe any more. I have been slowly working on some possibly other courses of action, but I’m not seeing how I could replace a 70k a year job + benefits while working for myself. I have a wife and 2… Read more »

Gary
Gary
10 years ago

Very interesting article. At 60 years old, I spent most of my working career self employed with employees. It wasn’t until I started to work for an employer that I began to earn money and not live off my wife’s income. I was 100 times happier working for myself, but finally when I turned 50 I recognized I would need to retire soon and had no retirement. It was taking my wife’s income, and all of mine to raise our family. Once my children all graduated from college, I went back to college, and became an accountant. I bought a… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
10 years ago

I have a talent for complex quantitative skills, teaching math, and generally being an economist. I have a passion for sleeping in, reading novels, watching anime, and surfing the net. What is stopping me from becoming a copy-editor or research librarian? Well, I’d probably be reasonably decent at the latter, but there are a lot fewer people who are really good at what I do than there are at what I really love doing. My Protestant work ethic tells me to go where my comparative advantage is, since I don’t hate it, it’s important, and the money is good, and… Read more »

David/Yourfinances101
David/Yourfinances101
10 years ago

There is no comparision to going to a job that you like.
And there is no compensation in the world that can make up for it.

I’m ecstatic for you that you’ve found your calling.

RJ Weiss
RJ Weiss
10 years ago

Might have to give this book a read because I enjoy exercises in books. 🙂

I was just talking to someone the other day who wish they spent more time thinking about their career when they were in the mid 20’s. Although I’m young and think I’m on the right track, it’s always great to get a new perspective.

Deel
Deel
10 years ago

I’d like to second (and expand on) what Shara, Cara, and chacha1 touched on (i.e., not mistaking a bad job for a bad career). I have done essentially the same type of work for about 16 years at three different companies. I have gone through periods of loving my career and feeling disillusioned with it — sometimes even while working for the same employer. When I think back on those periods when I was happiest, it was when I was working with great people who were talented and whom I “clicked” with personally. In other words, I was happiest when… Read more »

Kelly
Kelly
10 years ago

I’m a regular reader of PF blogs, and have read with interest (and a bit of disgust, frankly) many discussions on the topic of working a J-O-B versus “pursuing one’s passions” – and the financial finagling that often occurs in a marriage and/or life partner situation in order for ONE of the parties involved to be able to “follow their dreams”. Many, many times, it seems that – in a marriage/life partner situation, what ultimately happens is that one partner winds up taking advantage of the other. Meaning that one party ends up working at a J-O-B to provide the… Read more »

Brandon L
Brandon L
10 years ago

My problem is that I’m thinking about changing careers but I’m still in school. As an individual with a Bachelors and two Masters, most of the jobs I’ve seen don’t pay more than $30,000 a year. I need to make at least that to pay off the school loans that got me here. I’ve thought about getting another Masters in Computer Science (my first two are in Theology and Library Science) but most of the programs want you to have a Bachelors in Computer Science. A second Bachelors does not seems like a good idea. Basically, I’m too far in… Read more »

Shara
Shara
10 years ago

Brandon, Most technical MS programs require the BS to be sure you have the background necessary to succeed in the program. Call the graduate adviser for your local state university and ask what you would need to do to fill in the holes in your education. Most likely you can take a few upper level classes to make sure you have the technical background. It will add 12-18 months to the program, but that’s better than 4 years. And many universities acknowledge this and will even give you credit toward your MS for 400 level classes (I believe USC allows… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
10 years ago

@Kelly I do agree with you, and I get that vibe too … but we don’t know the details of TSD’s situation. He may very well be bringing in enough to comfortably be able to enjoy all the time for personal development (and if there’s uneven household chores should they be divided by the number of hours spent working or the money brought in?). He does make the laundry detergent… Who are we to judge? This year I’m being a sugar momma and supporting my husband’s passion, but he’s made a lot of sacrifices for my career too. We make… Read more »

dk2009
dk2009
10 years ago

I quit my job to follow my passion and just ended up with almost $100,000 in debt and counting….. With no job….

Sassy
Sassy
10 years ago

Talent = the fact that I am very good at numbers and keep being told by my boss that I would make a great accountant.

Passion = figuring out at the age of 37 that I want to become a primary school teacher and applying to University to study part time online for the next eight years!

Alexandra Levit
Alexandra Levit
10 years ago

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to JD for the outstanding review, and thanks to you guys for sharing your own stories. I would love to hear what you think about the book – please feel free to e-mail me anytime or send me a message via our New Job, New You Facebook group. Also, Get Rich Slowly is featured in the career change webinar that’s offered for free with book purchase. Check it out at http://www.newjobnewyou.com/webinar.html. Cheers to better careers in 2010!

Kind Regards,

Alexandra Levit
Author, New Job, New You
http://www.newjobnewyou.com

Dale Callahan
Dale Callahan
10 years ago

Brandon, As an engineering professor, I find it concerning when people think school will get them somewhere. While in computer science etc you can certainly find a good paying job, fact is the employers WILL hire people without it. I was talking to a CTO of a company just the other day who had a young man working for him who is in engineering school. The student is not doing well in school – but this guy STILL hired him and loves him. He did NOT hire him for the degree – he hired him to get results. Check out… Read more »

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