“How Do I Stop Talking Myself Out Of Changing Career?”

Rob left his creative dreams behind to concentrate on a stable career, but now he's stuck in a profession that doesn't feel like him. Whenever he thinks about leaving, it seems there's always another good excuse to stay put. How do you make a change, when you keep talking yourself out of following your ideas?

What's your career history and current job?

Music was my first love.

But I couldn't turn it into a career, so I studied history at university instead, then planned a new career in the legal profession.

For the past year, I've been a part of the legal team at a large media company.

How do you feel about your work?

When I started my legal career, I felt comforted by the fact that it had a defined path to success – not something you often get from being creative.

I also felt that the law was a recognised and challenging profession other people might be impressed by, and that it would be a career I could take anywhere.

But after job-hopping within the profession for a few years, hoping in vain that the next job would be better than the last, I now know that a career in law isn't for me.

I don't enjoy reading dry contracts and commercial documents. No matter how hard I try to concentrate, they naturally make me zone out. This means I sometimes miss vital details, which then have to be picked up by my colleagues later on.

I also find it frustrating to be given creative advertising content to read through, but only to check if it's legally compliant.

The longer I stay in my career, the more I feel my natural personality disappearing. I don't feel motivated to engage properly with the people I work with, because I find it hard to be myself in such a stuffy and traditional environment.

I record podcasts in my spare time, I've tried stand-up comedy, and I've been playing my own music for years.

But when I'm at work, I feel like that's a whole other life.

What would you like to be doing instead?

I've got a lot of ideas – all of them creative in some way.

I love cooking and experimenting with food, though I'm not sure how I could turn that into a career.

I've considered charity campaigning work, and I've also thought about creative copywriting. Every now and then, I rewrite some of the copy I'm given to review at work, if I think I can improve it.

Better still, I'd go into comedy writing. My ultimate dream would be to collaborate with other writers, on a script for a TV show or a film.

What's the biggest obstacle in your way?

Whenever I think about changing my career, I find a new way to talk myself out of doing anything about it.

For example, I'll convince myself that a chance encounter or a random event will eventually come along to rescue me from my legal career, as if by magic.

There are a few creative writing projects I've thought about starting, just to see where they could lead. But then I remind myself that creative work is really hard to get into – which is something my friends and family keep reminding me about, too.

I also feel that I don't really deserve to change things yet. I've worked hard and spent lots of money on my career so far, and I don't want to feel that was wasted. Part of me feels that I should wait until I'm fully qualified as a lawyer, because then I'll have 'paid my dues' before rewarding myself with a new career.

Then I worry that by changing my work, I'll lose the things that made a legal career so attractive to me in the first place – such as stability, good pay, and an easy commute.

I think of new excuses not to change things every day. But my dreams of a creative career are getting stronger, and deep down I know I have to do something about them.

How do I change the negative conversations I'm always having with myself, so I can start following new ideas?

Can you help Rob?
  • Have you been in a similar situation, or are you in the same boat right now?
  • How do you think Rob could move his shift forwards?
  • Do you know anyone he could talk to?

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