Oh my gosh. And here I am, sitting eating cereal at 4 PM. Thanks for inviting me. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. God, I know your position all too well.
So! Career changes.
I have done more than I care to recall (and probably don't recall anymore, anyway).
They always cost money and time. No exceptions.
It's painfully difficult to step into something new, and even if you do so, there are really no overnight successes, I've found. We're in such a hurry up world these days, it can feel like failure to have to wait. But wait you must.
Your friends and family (including us, I might add) will steer you in directions which work for them or which they know about. I am over 50 years of age, and my own mother still pushes me to become a librarian. Why? Because it worked for her and was a satisfying career.
When I last looked, she and I were different people.
Hence I think the best things to do are to consider what you enjoy or what satisfies you, whether it is for work or leisure. Let's say, I don't know, you enjoy knitting, playing the bongos, are satisfied with an orderly home where you can find everything easily, and you make the best tacos.
Let's look beyond the superficials here (assuming these four interests/skills define you; adjust as needed):
- Knitters are patient, they're crafty, they're creative, they're tidy (yarn must be unraveled for the whole shooting match to work at all), and they create a finished product. This might be for themselves or Xmas or baby gifts or just for fun, even if they unravel it all at the end of the day.
- Playing the bongos probably doesn't take the skill of, say, playing the cello, but it requires some rhythm. It's usually a social activity as solo bongo-playing rarely has a point (not that everything in life has to have one). It spells whimsy to me, too, that a person who does this for fun probably doesn't take life quite so seriously.
- An orderly home hints at organizational skills or even data skills, certainly the skills of sorting, comparing, and drawing conclusions. It hints at pride, too, and a degree of patience also evidenced with knitting. It's a physical activity, too.
- Making great tacos involves some patience and organization. This isn't a 'set it and forget it' food; it requires construction. You might not even realize why you're doing certain parts of it, but there is an attention to detail in there.
What do I take away from that? Someone who might be able to start a small business, maybe crafting or a food truck or cleaning houses or working as a professional organizer. Or maybe working as an analyst, and keeping the other fun things on the side for leisure time. Or maybe in a more social setting, even as a less formal party planner, even.
Your skills, your interests, your desire should all be satisfied as well as possible, but also know (as chai2 says), which hill you want to die on
. If it is absolutely important to you that bongo-playing gets into whatever you do for a living, then you're probably going to be limiting your options. But if you allow it as a leisure activity, or you step back and look at the bigger picture and instead view it as a form of whimsy in your life, you might be satisfied with different forms of whimsy that are just as good or almost as good.
Because any major change will take both money and time, do what you can to keep working during the transition because you still need to eat. I also highly recommend some form of schooling, even if it's a certificate program, as the sense of accomplishment is helpful but it's also because the time is going to elapse anyway, and you may as well network. School is primarily for education, yes, but when you're looking to make a career switch, a close on the heels second reason for it is to make industry contacts.
I hope this helps. Recognize, BTW, that what you're great at might not have been invented yet, or might not be big yet. Expect a pay cut; be pleasantly surprised if it's not too much. But be happy.
And save for retirement ...!