My Career Change Story – Part I

It’s been nearly a decade, but the image remains vivid. Blue carpet-covered cube farm walls in a 100-year-old converted textile mill building. Logo wear, commemorative paperweights, and other artifacts of more carefree times scattered about. The sound of no work being done as we all hovered around the water cooler with bated breath…

Being on the receiving end of the news that — along with much of the company — I’d been laid off, going from essential contributor to essentially expendable in a matter of minutes, was a gigantic, world-view-shifting wake-up call.  Well, OK, I’d been inching towards an escape from my position, company, industry… for quite a while, but somehow I always imagined the timing would be up to me. Ha, sweet kid!

At first, I was none too pleased to be among “the chosen,” but over time, I began to see this as one of my lucky days.  Frankly, were it not for being shoved, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to muster the courage to jump off this particular cliff. Not usually one to “jump and grow wings on the way down,” I am thankful for the nudge.

Sherrill inching down Bear Mountain, Sedona, AZ

The other thing that allows me to be grateful is that, on some level, I had been preparing myself for a shift for quite some time.  In fact, it would be fair to say that, before I even finished my Electrical Engineering undergrad degree, I already wanted to do something else.  Problem was: I didn’t know what the something was.

In a classic case of not seeing my own nose in front of me, it turns out that “something” must have been financial planner all along.  And I now know that because (consciously or no) I had already been doing many of the things that a financial planner would recommend to a prospective career changer:

  • Spend beneath your means
  • Avoid “bad” debt
  • Save money from raises & bonuses
  • Take advantage of employee benefits
  • Invest Escape Fund (i.e. money for the transition) conservatively

There was also plenty I woulda, coulda, shoulda done, but didn’t. For starters:

  • Review insurance coverage, especially health insurance
  • Research career options
  • Get a home equity line of credit

About the author

Sherrill St. Germain, CFP®

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