Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: “If I want to find a meaningful career, do I have to make less money?” You can learn how change careers without losing money. And oftentimes, you can end up making MORE money in a career change.

The Cost of Not Changing Careers

If we’re talking about how to change careers without losing money, the first thing to acknowledge is that it’s already costing you if you are in the wrong career.

It’s really easy to stay in denial about this, but there is often a monetary cost to waiting in a career that is not right for you.

It starts with excessive spending on comfort food, takeout, and paying for services to make life more convenient because you’re so exhausted from work (I know that Instacart adds up), shopping to boost your mood & give you a momentary sense of pleasure and aliveness because your work has sapped you of your vitality and energy. Eventually, healthcare costs start to rack up due to being overworked or working in toxic environments.

Under-earning? Your most significant expense is likely the money you’re not making.

The human cost: What is this doing to your spirit? What is this doing to your relationships? What is this doing to your sense of self?

Opportunity cost: Not being able to experience what you want, use your time well, use your potential, and make the contribution you wish to make. You know you could be doing so much more.

Acknowledging what your current job costs you is a great way to protect your money.

Stop Spending on Things That Don’t Solve Your Problem

One big way to change careers without losing money is to STOP spending on things that don’t solve your problem.

The biggest example of this is people who don’t know what they want to do trying to solve that problem by taking classes, getting certifications, or going back to school.

If you don’t know what you want to do, education in an interest of yours won’t help answer that. Your interest in a subject matter is only ONE component of choosing a meaningful career.

The biggest career change money drains:

1. Life coaching certification

I’ve seen programs for a couple thousand to over $20,000. That’s a lot of money for something that doesn’t answer the question you’re struggling with.

RELATED: Should You Be a Life Coach

2. Yoga teacher training

After talking with hundreds of people, here’s my question for anyone signing up for yoga teacher training: Do you want to be a yoga teacher, or is this a cry for help? I’m serious. Because I hear that people have an excellent time doing hours and hours of yoga, but eventually, they realize they don’t want a career as a yoga teacher and are back at square one, out several thousand dollars, with a killer pigeon pose, but still not knowing what they want to do.

3. Business coaching courses

You don’t know what business you want to start, but you’re taking classes on marketing and branding your business 🤷‍♀️

I had a client who had previously worked with a business coach. The coach had encouraged her to start a podcast to market her coaching services. So she spent money and eight months of her time producing a podcast but didn’t get clients. I said, “What was the service you were offering?” and she said, “Well, I was never very clear on who I was helping.” This makes me want to throw my computer out the window.

Don’t market a service you don’t have clarity on. Don’t spend your money on marketing courses (how to build a website, grow on Instagram, newsletters, affiliate campaigns, Pinterest, SEO). None of that is relevant until you’re clear on the substance and value of what you offer.

4. Going back to school

This is a respectable way dodge making a career decision. Vague notion that you need another degree? Back to school!

One of my clients was on the cusp of applying to law school to the tune of $20,000-$40,000 per year. Turns out she doesn’t need a law degree for her Homecoming Career, so that’s $80-$120,000 she doesn’t have to spend now.

Protect your money by NOT spending on things that don’t solve your problem. If it solves your situation, it’s an investment. If it prolongs your problem, it’s an expense.

Choose a Career That Meets Your Income Needs

Let’s talk about The Big Fear: I will make less money if I choose a more meaningful career.

We’ve been taught a binary way to think about careers: You can have meaning or money, but you can’t have both.

If you are stuck trying to follow your passion, you will struggle with this.

If you are stuck trying to “just be practical” and go where you think the money is, you will struggle with this.

That’s why it’s crucial to get out of this binary, either/or, and shift to what I call, The Purpose Paradigm of Work: meaning and money are inextricably linked.

EVEN IF you want to earn multiple six figures.

EVEN IF you want to use your creativity.

EVEN IF you’re the sole breadwinner.

Choosing meaningful work does NOT mean choosing a lower-paying career. Some clients find that choosing meaningful work is the path to MORE money than they could have imagined.

Meaningful work can make MONEY. It might make you more money than you make now.

Part of what I have my clients do is create an income range to keep them safe. The lower number is the “low as you can go” number. They DON’T choose a career that isn’t going to meet their income needs. Meeting your financial needs is a REQUIREMENT of your Homecoming Career.

Some options can give you the meaning and money you want, but you’ll have to ditch the binary and learn to think about your career differently.

Have a Practical Transition Plan

Many folks get into financial trouble because they quit their job too soon. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to build a savings cushion. You may need to prepare for a transition period where you temporarily earn less as you ramp up into your new career. If you do that, you want it to be a temporary, strategic investment in your new job so you can have the long-term gain of doing something profitable, sustainable, and meaningful.

To change careers without losing money, you can protect your money during a career change AND choose a career that will meet your income needs.

And the best part?

🍒🍒🍒 Meaningful work can lead to MORE money 🍒🍒🍒

Laura Simms is an expert in meaningful work who challenges conventional wisdom by asking people to ditch their passions and start with purpose.

If you have too many passions, zero passions, or can't seem to combine your passions, try her purpose-first approach to find a career you love.  


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