Changing career may seem selfish if your friends, and especially if your family, those who depend on you financially, need to make sacrifices too. As long as these sacrifices are not too severe of course, then in the long term everyone will win. You will be happier, more productive, and a nicer person to be around. If you plan things properly, the financial sacrifices will be short term, and your new career will compensate in other ways too.
Changing career often includes a change of lifestyle, and this may include more time to spend with your nearest and dearest. More and higher quality time to spend with you when you are happy, self fulfilled and successful in your new career will benefit everyone who shares your life, far more than the short term financial sacrifices.
I am currently earning a tiny fraction of what I earned in the IT industry. When I graduate in 2009, I am hoping to earn about half of the salary I earned in 2002, my last year in full time employment. Our savings are being eaten into every month, and I have a ten thousand euro student loan to repay. But I get to spend at least three hours a day with my baby daughter – pure quality time. A few years ago I would not have been able to imagine spending so much time every day not working. The financial sacrifice has been, is now, and will continue to be way outbalanced by my positive gains in time, energy and enthusiasm. Brenda, my wife, and Lily my daughter both agree.
Of course you need to decide the priorities in your own life, and make sure that what you gain in your new career and on the way to getting it, outweighs anything you give up from your old career.
Also, the third option is to keep a little of your old career, enough to hold onto what you feel is too high a price to pay for your new career. Consulting, reducing your working hours, or transitioning to a new career within the same organization, are just a few of the many possible options. Be creative and open-minded.
“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” Abraham Lincoln