Ask yourself one question right now – are you happy with your job?
If the answer is no, then I highly recommend you take five minutes of your time to read a revolutionary career blog; 25Before25 by Emma Rosen.
Not only did Emma take an entire year out of her career to road test 25 jobs, but she has walked out the other side with a far deeper understanding of what a career should be like for each of us as individuals.
As a massive fan of Emma’s radical sabbatical, I tracked her down after she completed her challenge to find out what motivated her to take the leap, and if there are any words of wisdom for those who are also stuck in a career rut.
What inspired you to take your radical sabbatical?
It was the hatred and dissatisfaction for my old job that really gave me the kick.
I’m someone who believes in living with no regrets, so I knew I had to change something.
But as I’d only ever trained to do one thing and followed a mainstream career path into the civil service I had no idea what I could do.
I began by writing it all down on pen and paper. If there were no issues, qualifications or training, what would I like to do?
I started listing all the things I’d ever wanted to do, from childhood all the way through to now. Admittedly some were definitely going to be unachievable – Astronaut for instance.
But others were things I could at least have a go at.
I suppose the idea of my sabbatical was to answer that ‘what if’ question. We all wonder what it must be like to try something different, and I didn’t want that ‘what if’ question hanging over me for the rest of my life.
When you talk to other people about their careers they generally speak quite highly of it, so you never hear the bad bits until you experience it for yourself.
If there’s one thing I would say to other people that are considering a career change; it would be to have an honest conversation with someone doing the job already. Ask what the worst bits are and what they actually have to do on a day-to-day basis.
Did anyone try to put you off doing it, and if so how did you conquer the doubts?
My parents were supportive by obviously skeptical – after all, it’s not every parent’s idea of fun to have their 24-year-old say that they’re going to quit their job and trial 25 for a year!
The first person I told didn’t get it, at all. Which made me realise that I needed to have a strategy and think about how I was going to achieve it.
I set-up the blog, explained what I was going to do and why, and it then helped many of my friends and family understand.
Justifying it slightly gave me the validation I needed to know that it was going to work.
It may seem like I just started it from the off, but I did a lot of work prior to ensure I could do it.
Plus, having the blog and telling the world was making a commitment to myself that I had to do it.
I’m not the first person to have done something radical with my career, but many people don’t talk about it. We are very used to being brought-up to feel safe and secure in a mainstream profession, but it’s not until we break-away from this that we realise there are so many more careers out there that we could try.
What do you believe needs to change for us all to find career fulfilment?
Careers education needs to dramatically improve as there is no balanced understanding of the diverse careers that are now available.
For starters work experience needs to be more varied.
The education system seems to teach children only about mainstream professions or jobs their parents do already. But technology is moving at a very fast pace and who knows what the future holds?
Ideally, schools should be encouraging students to try more careers for their work experience. Whether it’s a day in each or weeks. But it shouldn’t be just one.
Did anything unexpected come out of your experiences?
There were a few jobs that I enjoyed which I didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did.
Property development was one I chose from an interior design point of view. But the ideas, creativity and the start-up environment was great fun.
I’d never been part of a small company, so getting to understand and see the entrepreneurial spirit was incredibly eye-opening.
I also enjoyed garden design, as it uses both sides of your brain. You have to be an outdoor architect but then know about all the different plants and flowers to ensure they can live together. They have to know so much more than you realise.
Being a forest school teacher was very rewarding. It was both physical and outdoorsy, but was fascinating to see the children develop, and impressive to see them learn about their surroundings.
What are your words of wisdom for others who are thinking about taking a radical sabbatical?
Before you jump in get talking to people and get honest answers from people in those careers.
It is such a worthwhile investment to try out different things. Besides, if you don’t like it, at least you know.
Even using your holiday to try days at different places here and there can help you to realise that you are capable of so much more.
How do you feel about your career now versus when you began?
Incredibly empowered. I came away feeling like – “I could do that.”
However, above all, it made me realise that you don’t just have to have one career.
The idea of a portfolio career is becoming increasingly popular, and mixing your career with an assortment of things you enjoy means you can do lots of different things and find a more fulfilling career.
We have a much broader skill set than we realise, but we just need to have the confidence to give it a try.