This is part II of a series. Previous entries can be found below.
Part I - Securing Your Finances
In the previous article, we talked about securing your finances prior to your career change. This time we will discuss the importance of having a reliable support network. The actual needs of an individual support network vary greatly depending on that person's circumstances. Relationship status, living arrangement, family dynamics, kids, meals, transportation, time, and just about anything else under the sun that you can imagine you need.
Step 1 - The List
Your first step here is to determine and write down what you do and don't need support with. Try to be as thorough as possible, even though it is hard to know exactly everything you will need. If you remember in part I, we talked about not rushing your career change, and this is another example of why you shouldn't. Even a list could take days to make as new examples and ideas pop into your head. Some examples of non-financial (covered in the previous article) support include:
1: Child care for those who go in for this sort of thing like yours truly. If you have willing supporters who can lower your daycare bill by any amount, take full advantage. And if not, maybe consider dropping your kid(s) off at a church until your career change is over?
2: Household responsibilities can go either way. When I left my job to pursue a career change, my wife laid out her condition: since I had no income I had to learn to cook and help out more around the house. It was a totally fair trade and an easy decision. If you, on the other hand, are continuing work, you may need your fellow occupant to do more household tasks instead.
3: Emotional support, because you're going to have bad days. What's more is these bad days are going to be during a very vulnerable time for you, and will likely hit harder. Not only will you need positive reinforcement, but your loved ones have to be careful not to trigger a vulnerable moment by questioning or projecting onto you.
4: Transportation support may be needed. Maybe your school is farther away then you'd like. Maybe you had to give up your car to make your finances work. Just make sure you can get where you gotta go!
5: School & Study time will be needed - in abundance most likely. If you have to study at home (online classes or extra study sessions) make sure you have a quiet space and everyone respects it.
6: Mental health support is crucial as well. This is especially true if you have been out of a learning environment for a significant time. The things that stress and frustrate you are simply much different as a student than what you or the people around you may be accustomed to. Truthfully, you may not even know the people who will help you with this yet, as the best ones I found for this kind of support were my fellow cohort mates.
As an added piece of advice for those leaving their jobs, make sure to surround yourself with massive amounts of positivity around the holidays. Those times are especially tough when you aren't comfortable with your current state of affairs.
7: Errands still need to be run, right? If you are in a crunch with time or having to be in multiple places at once to fit things into your day, consider asking if someone is available to help you with that trip to the post office, pick up some food or groceries for you, or some other task that needs to get done you trust them to do.
8: YOU time is absolutely crucial. No matter how busy or pressure-filled your life gets, always take some time to indulge yourself in a hobby, a night out, or something fun. Having no time to enjoy life will break your resolve as quickly as anything.
Step 2 - Recruitment & Negotiations
Once you have your list, it is important to be somewhat flexible with trading a do for a don't if you have someone who prefers to help you in a different way than you asked or expected them to at first. Obviously your trust in the person to handle a specific task is the most important, but try to be willing to give people the chance to prove themselves. Who knows, maybe your lazy ass do-nothing-around-the-house friend/relative may actually be the best child care you could hope for.
Once you have an idea of who you wish to ask to do what tasks, you have to be able to talk specifics with them. I believe the biggest mistake you can make is underestimating what you're asking for and expecting others to make up the difference on their own. Everyone that you ask for support should know a) what exactly will be expected of them (times, days, places, travel, etc.) and b) how long you will need there help for. They deserve honesty and transparency as much as you do. If they are only good for certain days or a certain length of time, work around there schedule as much as possible and make accommodations, trade-offs, or compromises either with them or elsewhere.
There may come a point where you need something from someone who may not be as willing as you hoped. You probably don't have a bunch of money to throw their way to persuade them, and if you are tapped out of resources elsewhere you may have to consider bartering some favor or compromising somewhere. Whether you ave to readjust your finances, cook some extra food on the weekends, or do some dishes for your lazy ass do-nothing-around-the-house friend/relative the important thing is do not give up your pursuit over this. Remember, this is a process that should take a considerable amount of time before you make your move, trust in yourself being able to find a creative solution somewhere without some majorly inconvenient compromise.
Counting on other people is tough. It's especially hard when you are in as vulnerable of a position as a career change and need that support. As much as I want to tell you you're worrying for no reason, you're not. You can work tirelessly to create a strong support network, and all it takes is one or two people to mess it all up and leave you gasping for air. The best thing I can tell you is to count on those you trust the most with confidence, because without that confidence you are much more likely to talk yourself out of your impending career change. Nothing can wholly prepare you for this, and this is a step in the process where a leap of faith may be required. Still, I don't believe life's realities are a reason to not pursue making your dreams a reality, so go do you with pride and confidence.
In Part III we'll discuss how to go about making the right choices concerning your education.