You advanced quickly in your career. Made all the right moves. You may even be up for promotion. But things have changed in your personal life. Your family is getting larger—you may have two, three or four young kids. They need your attention. Despite the “You Can Do It All” super mom books you’ve read, you realize that something’s gotta give. Following your current career path will mean less and less time with your family. You need a career change. A downshift. A job that calls for fewer hours, leaves weekends free, and requires no more out-of-state or out-of-country business flights. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the right move:
The Psyche Up
Before you downshift your career, you need to convince yourself that you’ve done enough for yourself and your family. That you don’t really need more stuff—bigger home, fancier cars, clothes, exotic vacations. Remind yourself, too, that your present title and record of achievements at work are enough, and that the trade off—spending more time with your family—is well worth the sacrifice of not making it to the executive ranks. Chances are, your downshift will result in a corresponding drop in salary. So you’ll need to prepare yourself mentally and materially.
If you choose to spend more time with your family, you can downshift to a career that’s related to your field. It may be an entirely different career path, but one that draws on many of the same skill sets that brought you this far in your current career. People skills—listening, speaking, resolving conflicts and leading—are almost always transferable to a downshifted career move. As are certain computer skills and program knowledge. In some cases, a downshift may even mean learning a new skill. Be prepared for this, for it may mean initially spending more time at work or off-hours training.
It goes without saying that you should line up your downshift job before you quit your present one. In searching for a job that gives you more flexibility, be up front with your new employer, advising him that you don’t want to work more than 30 or 40 hours a week and that you need weekends off. If this becomes a deal breaker, look for part time jobs that can use your skill sets. Try to keep working rather than stop altogether. If things don’t work out and you suddenly need to go back to work full time, you won’t have to answer for a gap in your resume.
Shifting to Self-Employment
If none of the above options work for you, you may decide to start your own business. This can be risky, for it involves a dedicated commitment in time and start-up capital. The upside is that you’ll be in total control of your time.
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