If you are a woman who is already successful in the workplace but considering a change to a different career path, know this: You are far from alone. In fact, a recent survey of 3,500 women by the InHerSight network indicates that nearly 9 of 10 women are considering switching careers, either tentatively or actively. The survey showed that a whopping 57% of women are actively pursuing a shift in careers, and another 32% are potentially considering it.
In my work with women in transition, I have frequent conversations with women — many already in leadership positions in their industries — who are feeling a lack of fulfillment and taking a hard look at making a significant move. These conversations can be tough, because there are major implications to pulling up stakes in one line of work and moving to a different one.
But there are some things you can do to ease the transition and greatly increase your odds of success. One of the most important, by the way, starts with having a conversation like those I have with my clients. In other words, getting some expert advice about the financial implications of a major career shift can be one of the most important steps you can take.
Plan Ahead for Future Needs and Expenses
Before you make a career change, you need to do some serious budgeting and forecasting. If you’re launching a new business, most studies indicate that you shouldn’t expect any actual income for a year, maybe two. How will you meet your basic expenses while you’re waiting for your dream to start paying off? Without a realistic, real-world budget, you won’t have the data you need to answer that question.
And speaking of budgeting, you’ll also need to take a hard look at your expenses. When you make the leap from leader of the pack to new kid on the block, it’s likely that you’ll take a pay cut of some type. Is there fat in your monthly budget that can be trimmed? Can you eat out a couple of times a month, instead of two or three times a week? Can you give up the gym membership? The deluxe cable package? The daily latté? You’ll need to focus on the real essentials: ensuring healthy food, secure shelter, necessary transportation, and needed healthcare. If anything on your monthly expense list doesn’t fit in those categories, seriously consider jettisoning it.
Add to Your Nest Egg
Now let’s talk about savings. Especially during your transition period — and starting as early as possible — you should be building up a “war chest” of savings to help tide you over in the inevitable tight times that come with a major career change. In fact, you should commit to an ongoing dedication to saving as much as you can, as often as you can, and not just for retirement. Let’s face it: Life is uncertain, and especially in uncertain times, cash is king. Having that comfortable balance available can give you not only peace of mind, but can also facilitate perks like a needed sabbatical, or a period of part-time work while you sort things out, or an important investment in your new career.
Use Your Resources
By the way, there are some great, free online tools you can use to get a handle on your budget, your savings, and even your investments. For example, I highly recommend Mint.com to clients of all ages and stations in life; it has excellent resources for keeping track of your bills, watching your credit scores, and even staying on top of your budget with parameters tailored to your individual situation.
I also like Acorns.com to help with saving and investing. The app allows you to put even small amounts of money to work for you, both with interest-bearing accounts for basic savings, and even making investments in equity-based assets. Not only that, but you get access to a good, basic knowledge base that will help you become more financially aware. Digit.co can actually help you analyze your spending patterns and set achievable savings goals, based on your personal financial habits.
Finally, I really like DailyWorth.com, which is one of the best sites on the web for delivering practical financial advice and coaching, specifically tailored for women: tips for thriving as a single-income household, saving on childcare costs, finding the right fit between work and home — there’s a lot here, and it’s all good.
Dreams are important; they are what keep us active, moving forward, and growing mentally and spiritually. But it’s vital to give your dream the nourishment it needs in order to thrive. If your dream is leading you into a new career, by all means, pursue it. But do it the smart way — with planning, budgeting, saving, and a dose or two of professional advice from someone who can help you anticipate the bumps you’ll encounter along the way. If you’re wondering about making a change in careers, we can help you find the answers you need.