Updated: Feb 14
Things I wish I knew before quitting my corporate job 6 years ago.
First-hand feedback: 6 years ago, I was a very well-paid and very unhappy corporate tax manager. One day it clicked, and I decided to change careers (well, actually I changed more than that as I also moved abroad, sold my flat in Paris etc. but let's focus on my career shift for today).
What I am happy to share with you today is all the things nobody tells you when you are taking the leap (nothing to do with the obvious "Make sure to save enough money" or "Check that this 9-month horse ridding teacher training is really for you, remember that you are afraid of poneys?")
Tip #1 - The dream career project you have right now is just a Plan A (that will not come to life)
Are you fantasying about becoming a yoga teacher? A writer? Owning your restaurant or your shop? Take it for what it is: a starting point.
It is very unlikely that after research, tests, prototyping etc. your project will remain the same. Maybe you will realise that owning a restaurant generates a huge financial risk you are not ready to take.
Or maybe after 1 month of training in a beauty shop, you will decide that dealing with suppliers, managing the stock and creating promotion campaigns (which is basically 70% of the job) is far from what you expected.
It does not mean that you will trash all of your dreams and come back to your previous job. It just means that after this first step of testing and researching, the reality of the career of your dream will give you plenty of insights and information to work with in order to craft your own unique career shift.
Why is it important?
Because between the dream phase (where you are right now) and the moment, you will truly jump: your project will naturally evolve. A lot (trust me...).
And it's great, and it's healthy. You need to seriously assess your project's feasibility before leaping for good (and let me tell you it can be painful).
From "I want to own my own restaurant" to "I am becoming a private chef for wellbeing retreats" there is a gap. That's the difference between wanting a new career based on dreams (and Instagram...) and jumping into a new professional activity based on reality.
How do I know that?
I promise first-hand feedback, here we go. When I changed career 5 years ago, I quit everything to become ... a pastry chef! (because I loved baking 😬).
I trained and got a degree in one of the most prestigious French pastry schools, trained in a 3 Michelin stars Parisian palace, launched my own company .... and crashed.
🚩 I crashed because I refused to see the red flags. I refused to see the long hours, the super hard-working conditions (that were the exact opposite of what I wanted), the lack of profitability, the terrible "army style" management etc. After 2 years, everything burst and I quit pastry for good.
Until... until I found my truly fulfilling career, and then I was able to reintegrate my pastry love into my professional plans. Today even if my main activity is to be a coach and a meditation teacher, from time to time I am giving pastry classes, organising workshops, and I am a retreat chef. A huge evolution from my plan A right?
Tip #2 - You won't make a living from your passion
No, never, nope.
I know: this one is hard to swallow, but that's the truth. And let's be honest, the reason why you are thinking of making a living from your passion is not only based on your love for tennis, painting or hot water bottle design (yes I confess: I have strange passions).
The reason why you are choosing your favourite hobby as a starting point of your new dream career is that that's an easy pick.
You already know how to play the piano, how to repair old fashion cars or how to draw your favourite Avengers (congrats) so you think you can make a living from that. Or based on that: piano teacher, comic designer, garage owner... all of this seems logical, straightforward and pleasant.
In reality, it's a bad idea because in choosing to make a living from your passion, you are mostly falling into a gigantic trap: falling in love with a solution more than falling in love with a concrete project.
Everything you need to understand in this video
I made a (fabulous, of course) video about that here :
Why is it important?
Because choosing a passion as the starting point of your career change project is the main reason why people are failing (and failing the ugly way!).
Think of this: if you are jumping into a new "passion-career" without understanding the reality of the job, but just because you love the activity as a hobby, you are going to crash very badly.
Even if you think you already know the reality of the business (based on your decades of body-jumping or furniture design experience) it's likely that your "amateur" status still makes you miss important details.
Time, money, energy...think about all the things you could waste if you start your project on the wrong foot. Remember, instead of falling in love with a solution ("I have a dream job idea!") wait to fall in love with a project before jumping ("I have an exciting and tested plan!").
How do I know that?
Remember my first career change based on my passion for cakes? ;)
Tip #3 - It's not about earning less (you will...), it's about changing your spending habits (and you will!)
Ah, money... the number one concern, the big issue all my clients are worried about, the first obstacle, and for some people the last one (as their project stops right at the foot of the money wall).
If you are contemplating changing careers but are terrified of not making enough money to live, first of all: you are not alone. We are all obsessed with money when it comes to changing something in our lives (myself included) and it's proof of sanity.
Now, let me answer the only questions that matter to you right now:
😬Are you going to earn less money if you change careers? YES
😵💫Are your living standards going to change? OF COURSE.
Why it's important?
Let me be brutally honest.
Imagining that you can change careers and keep the same level of income from Day 1 is delusional (even from Day 180). If that's your plan, just don't do it. Keep your current job and take the time to reframe your project.
Also, keep in mind that changing careers is very different from changing jobs. You are going to start a new activity, maybe in a new form (entrepreneur, freelancer, remote worker, part-time etc.) so obviously your revenue stream is going to shift significantly, at least in the first months (hum.. years).
BUT (and it's a GIGANTIC BUT) all of this is balanced by an amazing thing: you are going to change your spending habits. Naturally, and effortlessly.
It's a huge lesson you will get from your career change.
Suddenly, you don't need to spend so much money on Amazon, or you select your next night out at the restaurant more carefully (or consciously), or you slow down your cosmetic/beauty parlour expenses etc, etc.
I am not saying that you are going to sacrifice all your hobbies and start to eat pasta every day to spare money (could eating pasta every day be considered a sacrifice anyway?). What I am talking about here, is that your career change will smoothly generate changes in your way of spending your money.
Again: effortlessly without excruciating and unsustainable efforts on your side.
Have a look at the next section for concrete examples.👇
How do I know that?
Remember what I told you about me 6 years ago? I was the unhappy corporate businesswoman you see in all "good" Christmas movies every year ;)
Well, at that time I was earning a very nice salary (+bonuses). Today, I am a super happy coach/meditation teacher/writer (and from time to time pastry chef) and I am not earning as much money.
But I don't feel overwhelmed by frustration, nor poor.
I am just spending my money differently.
How did my spending habits change?
Home (rent/mortgage) = -20% (my flat in Paris is rented so I am breakeven to repay the mortgage, in London, I am renting)
Eating out: -60% (no more bi-weekly 100€ dinner bill just because I was following friends in a fancy restaurant I did not particularly enjoy)
Beauty parlours / Hairdresser/ Sephora etc. = -70% (today, buying lipstick or getting a pedicure is a real treat, not an impulsive decision)
Clothes = -70% (you will not believe how many clothes I bought while I did not really like them, or clothes that I did not wear more than twice etc. Also: no more Corporate expensive outfits/shoes to buy😉)
App / Streaming / Online subscriptions = -70% (no, I don't need Netflix + Amazon Prime + Now TV + Disney + ... every month)
Holidays = -50% (an important item in my case for sure. I still love to travel...I am just a little bit more conscious about my trips)
It's just a rough idea, but you see the changes.
6 years later, looking back in the mirror...
Am I frustrated sometimes?
In fair honesty, yes, it happens. I can be frustrated not going to this highly reputed restaurant or not going to the hammam this month, or sometimes not being able to follow my friends in their drinks/night out sessions. But that remains pretty minor.
Am I happy with the shift in my spending habits?
Oh, yes! I feel much more in control and satisfied when I am buying things. Before I could feel absolutely empty after shopping (hello coping mechanism), but not anymore.
Was it difficult to change my spending habits?
I swear this: not at all. My schedule changed so drastically, and my daily life as so little to do with what it was 6 years ago, that the shift happened without me noticing it.
Sure, I have less money, but I have so much more time to do what I love, that going to the hairdresser, buying a nice dress or booking my next ticket for the Maldives (or anywhere very far away from my job) has become secondary.
And it would be the same for you. Don't worry, you can do it!