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Follow Your Dreams or Wake Up?  The Difficult Choice of Changing Careers.

People by the masses work at jobs they don’t like simply because they need the money.  I’ve been there, I can relate.    Worse though, I think that many more are in a job simply because they have invested so much.  Whether it is time or money, they don’t want to have their “initial investment” wasted.   Imagine, spending thousands of dollars and years of education for a field that pays well but you don’t enjoy, every day you are working just to get a paycheck.  You look forward to when you don’t have to work versus the days you do.  Money will come and go but your time on earth is limited.  How much money is that time truly worth to you?

Now let’s stop and switch it up.   You spent the money and time for a field you love.  You get into the working world and it’s fantastic!  Every morning you are excited to work.  You can show up early, leave late, and don’t mind at all.  Your pay is and looks to be good forever moving forward.   Great! This article isn’t for you.   Rather what if slowly you start to see the projections of the field’s outlook are not good.  Say it isn’t a small change, what if it’s becoming a growing trend.  Business is Business and at a certain point the business needs to care about the bottom line.  Is the field outsourcing faster than the growth of the field?  Do you see more intense competition for lower paying and less exciting work?   What do you do then?  Do you follow your dream job down the rabbit hole or wake up to take action?  Of the two situations above I changed my career into coding after the latter.

Very quickly let me get you up to speed.  I’m in my late twenties but for roughly the last 15 years I have done video, motion graphics, and character animation work.  I dubbed myself successful as I was making enough to support myself off of my work in the fields of multimedia and was receiving referrals for future work.  I knew nothing about anything close to “code”, HTML included.  My initial business website was designed by a friend, Nem Simeunovic.  But then slowly but surely I could see a trend happening with the VFX industry in America.  I like to look into the future and make educated decisions on what I’m doing now.

I could feel good work was becoming rare.  I could find but it was getting tougher, more crowded, and offers where cheaper for work.  Studios where dropping employees in my field and overall it wasn’t looking the way I had hoped for my future in the next 50 years.   Yes, I was working in my field of choice but the projects I needed to accept were trending towards lower excitement and lesser pay.  The offers I had to take for work where going down to stay competitive.  I would of just loved to travel to the Eastern world and take the lower wage with a lower living expense but with western money sized loans, there is no way that would of made sense at least not in my field of animation.  Then one day my beautiful wife and I got engaged and it was apparent that that our combined income plus a future family one day needed a different career path.  I needed to find something that was economically healthy, had long term security, and of course enjoyable.  I needed to wake up and fully commit to a career change.

Remember this is me walking away from a field I wanted since I was 9!  A career I invested a lot of money, time, and resources into.   There were plenty of transferable skills I got along the way that will make me a great coder.  Among other things my ability to find what I need to know and troubleshoot has become invaluable in the coding world.   My new field is still creative you just wouldn’t know it watching software guys in movies.

The most difficult thing is making the commitment to change.   It is scary because it might be unfamiliar.  It can be heavy cause of all your investment elsewhere.  It could be a “long time dream” but what you may not see initially is that your dreams can evolve.   You don’t owe any I.O.U’s to your former decision making self.   No one is going to hold you accountable for making a decision you think is better for you.  It can be very easy to think you have an obligation to your family, your education, or even your younger self to stick with your “initial” career path, but why?    Your family wants to see you happy and successful.  Your education is a personification for an entity that doesn’t talk back to you and isn’t going to care what you did.   Lastly, your younger self (perhaps pride itself) didn’t know how things would change.  He didn’t think you would need to learn to adapt or else you’ll go the way of Darwin’s unlucky finches.

Are you in school pursuing a field that you aren’t enjoying or are you out of school and are not excited to do your job?  I ask, “Why you are still there?”  Sure you need the money, and you can’t just stop everything and get a new education.    Before you can get trained, before you can even look for new work, before you even research any new field; you need to make the decision and commitment to waking up.   Dreams are great; when we are in them we don’t want to wake up.  But there is a point when your dream is not longer a dream and you’re just sleeping as life passes you by.  Sometimes waking up, is the only way to start a new dream.

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