This is the final part of Meg’s career story.
When you first met Meg she felt trapped in a job she’d outgrown. She was disengaged, uninspired and dreaded going to work each day. She decided something had to change, but giving up a well-paid job for a new career seemed almost impossible. Meg experienced something many refer to as the Golden Handcuffs. The things that make the job attractive (pay, conditions, stability) are the very things that can keep you stuck there.
After some soul-searching and several bad days at work, Meg took action. Over the course of several months she worked very hard to create opportunities for a new career. Her first instinct was to follow her love for the art world. She tried to find work in a gallery through her volunteering connections. However, in the process she discovered that one of her hobbies – weaving – could possibly provide the step into a new career, but not in the way she envisaged. Through her volunteering work Meg met Fiona who runs a small textile business. Meg had never considered textile production as a career option. This introduction, and seeing the business Fiona has created, provided the impetus Meg needed to make a change.
Since then, Meg has decided to study textile production at her local TAFE. She’s been studying for several months now and she loves it. She’s still working in her old job, but she has a transition plan to leave there in the next 12 months. Meg’s made a lot of new connections in the textile world through study and through Fiona, who continues to be an informal mentor for her. Even though a new job hasn’t emerged for her yet, Meg’s very positive that this will happen in due course.
I asked Meg what advice she’d give others who feel caught in the ‘golden handcuffs’ situation. Here’s the advice she shared:
- Be open minded. Sometimes new career opportunities present very differently from your original ideas or expectations, and they might be even better!
- Don’t be too hard on yourself while you’re working it out. It can tempting to focus on regretting decisions, or indecisions, in your career. One perspective would say there are no wrong career decisions, just different options to try. Focus on what you’ve learnt, and what you’ll do differently next time.
- Keep going. If you know in your heart that you can and should do something different in your career, keep going. Finding your new career path needs continued energy and positivity. Connect with positive, supportive people who will encourage you along the way.
- Invest in yourself. Keep building your skills, do some volunteering, connect with people in the field you’re interested in. I’ve made time to do this, (squeezed into a full schedule with work and family), which was tricky, but it has been a huge benefit to me.
- Ask for help and support. Don’t be afraid to seek help from others. It’s hard to make a career change on your own. When others are aware of your goals and intentions, they’re able to support you or connect you to others. Remember to reciprocate when you can and help others. It’s also a very good idea to get professional career guidance or coaching from someone in the industry who’s skilled and can help you.
As a final message, Meg asked me to share her favourite career quote:
“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”
M. Scott Peck