Is Career Downshifting Possible?

by Anon
(Australia)

I notice a lot of help for career-changers centered around moving from jobs that offer lower amounts of responsibility and 'meaning' into roles that offer more personal growth/capacity to help others/meaning and of course more responsibility and pay.


What happens when you want to go the other way around - that is, you've attained a profession in an area that I'm sure lots of people aspire to and offers lots of opportunity for helping others AND earning good money - and you want to move to a lower responsibility and lower stress job. It's so hard to get advice in this area - most people tell me to stay where I am, and I feel silly and ungrateful even thinking about moving from this career....after all, it does offer the opportunity to help people, obtain respect, and earn a decent pay.

The specifics of my situation - I want to move from clinical psychology to something else (not sure what yet)...seem to be drawn to admin roles, childcare but also have interest in writing/editing. Help?!

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Is Career Downshifting Possible?
by: Cherry

Actually you are not unusual. There are many people who come to career change because their apparent career success is proving an empty victory. They may have pursued a particular profession because of pressure to get a 'good job' or they may have been driven by socially acceptable measures of success. But for many of these people there comes a moment when they realise that they have been climbing the wrong ladder.

What to do about it?

It sounds as if you are letting yourself be influenced by others and what they think you should be doing. To an outsider, you may be in an enviable position with status and a good salary, but only you know how that feels on the inside. At the end of the day, you have to live through each day and carry the demands of your role. You are the only judge of whether it is working for you or not. Take the time to consider what YOU would like to do, ignoring what other people might think of it.

Remember too that you are not solely defined by your work. If you take a less demanding job, what will that give you time to do? Which parts of you will find expression that are not allowed out of the box at the moment? If you stop being a clinical psychologist, who would you like to become instead?

Who Am I?

Take a look at the exercises in the Who Am I section of the HTCC website to help you to define what you do want.

And on a practical basis, if you are in a well paid role, one possibility is to save carefully for a while so that you can take a sabbatical of a few months to really think about what you want. Time away from the everyday pressures of your job will help you clear your head. Maybe you could try out the writing you mention.

What's stopping you?

Think about what it is that is actually stopping you from making a change.
* Concern that others will think you are crazy? (So what? Let them think it!)
* Feeling that you are throwing something away that you have worked hard for? (Better to acknowledge a mistake and correct it than to soldier on in misery)
* Thinking that you may change your mind later? (Will you really?)
* Worry that nobody will employ you in a lower level job? (What evidence do you have of that?)
* Something else?

Last but not least, consider what you want to look back on at the end of your working life. Will you be more pleased to have...

a)soldiered on in a job that offers money and status but is not a good fit for you
b)taken a risk and gone off exploring to find what will allow you to find what is a good fit and give of your best.

So please don't feel silly or ungrateful. Your instinct is telling you that something has to shift and that is a much better guide than what anyone else says or thinks.

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