Dreading getting up in the morning? It might be time for a career change. Follow your dreams, and the finances will take care of themselves. Think positively and good things will come your way. And remember that love will conquer all.
If bills could be paid in affirmations and platitudes, some of this might be true.
In reality we embark on potentially life-changing career moves without reference to loved ones and with barely a thought for the financial sums. The real sums, that is. Like, if we smoke 30 cigarettes a day at the moment, will that really fall to zero once we quit the bank and open a flower shop? If not, can we afford to keep up the habit, and still keep our children in school uniforms?
Everyone needs to have these kinds of harshly honest discussions before trading their job for a childhood dream, says Sorted.org.nz's David Kneebone.
"Unfortunately a side effect of couples not being on the same page with money is often relationship breakdown, which is a devastating thing all round emotionally, and I'm afraid financially is a complete disaster as well," he says.
Queenstown-based money author Joan Baker, agrees.
"What is quite disastrous is to have people blindly pursue their interests and then find out that of course there is no money in it," she says.
"On one hand, a well paid a job is not going to make you happy if you hate it. But on the other hand, there are clearly financial requirements that need to be met."
The trick is to work out what you and your family can live with.
FIND THE SWEET SPOT
The first thing to work out is whether the job is the problem.
With lifespans increasing, so too are our working lives and the thought of another few decades in a profession is enough to drive many people nuts, says Baker. But switching might be too drastic if the problem is limited to a small part of the role.
"Often people are inclined to get a bit Kamikaze about switching jobs on the basis of very small things, rather than actually saying 'which bit do I need to fix and can I fix it here?" says Baker.
"If it is as simple as saying 'I really don't like the person I report to or she doesn't like me,' that can be changed without changing careers."
Beware of becoming a "serial job hopper" who never works out the real problem.
"You can take it for granted that 10-30 per cent of your job will consist of stuff that you don't like and that you mightn't even be great at. But as long as the balance is in the right direction then that is probably realistic," says Baker.
If those proportions are reversed it may be time to get out. The best jobs occupy the sweet spot between what someone likes and what they are good at, says Baker.
"People have a tendency to find themselves in jobs that they CAN do but that they don't like, because it doesn't exploit their strengths," says Baker. "I can deal with detail but it is not what I'm best at so I don't want a job where 80 per cent of my time is reconciling invoices."
Start by making a list of your strengths, asking close friends, family or trusted co-workers to point out skills that you might take for granted.
Then think about what you like. Is it outdoors or indoors, chaotic or steady, surrounded by people or working solo?
Most of all, remember that the specific organisation, workmates and responsibility can make or break a job.
"There is a world of difference between being a solo nurse for an old person who is incapacitated and working as a nurse in a busy A and E," says Baker.
"Even people in jobs that others would not find very glamorous often say things like, 'I like turning up here every day, I like my workmates and I really like solving people's problems'."
Small business owner Rachelle Brass had her moment of clarity when she arrived home from work one day full of excitement. She had returned to work as an early childhood centre manager after several years off but was feeling restless and ready to change.
"I knew I didn't want to go back to the same thing, but I didn't really know what else to do or how to change," she says.
When her husband noticed that she was more excited about the teachers' development than that of the children, something clicked.
"I thought 'you're right, I am!'" she recalls. At 44, she moved from Nelson to Wellington and embarked on a Masters' degree in education.
"Like many women I talk to I'd lost touch with what I was good at and I'd lost touch with where the workforce was at."
She completed a Gallup University strengths assessment which told her that she was full of ideas and likely to be good at mentoring, coaching and communication. Now Brass juggles studying for her Masters with a seven-month-old consulting business helping pre-school teachers with their professional development.
"I do a lot of (work in) cross cultural settings and my favourite part of my job is working with Samoan teachers to develop their curriculums," she says.
"If anyone had told me two years ago that I would be at uni, running this business and working with Samoan teachers I would have said 'well that would be my dream but I can't imagine it would happen'."
Baker says not everyone needs to re-train: background reading and work experience can be enough.
"If you're already qualified in one field, people are often willing to say 'well there is enough evidence of achievement and application here that we can take a chance on this person'."
Work experience, though, is highly recommended. It shows an employer someone is serious about switching roles, with the added bonus of giving the worker a reality check, says Baker.
BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR SPENDING
Many career changes involve a pay drop, at least initially. Taking a vow of poverty is all very well if you know what you are giving up. But many people have no idea, says Baker.
"My experience of working with people in this area is that a lot of people have a very hazy idea of what money they actually consume," she says.
"It is not at all unusual to find that there is 20 per cent of their income that they can't really account for."
People are often reluctant to confront this ghostly spending.
"But when you are looking at either getting back into the workforce or changing jobs you have to have a really clear audit of your basic, absolutely non-negotiable costs. Then you can say 'well I've got to earn a minimum of $60,000'. Or 'what am I prepared to put up with that would allow me to earn another ten or twenty thousand?'" says Baker.
"It's really, really important to be honest," says Kneebone. "How much do you send on tithing or donations to your church, how much you might spend on a flutter on a Friday night, how much do you spend on entertaining ... It is really important if there are two adults in a relationship to be honest with each other."
Kneebone says every household should visit Sorted.org.nz's money planner a couple of times a year, especially if they have a change in circumstances. It helpfully prompts people to enter all sources of income and all expenses, including some that are easily forgotten such as lunches, donations, gifts, bus fares and babysitters.
Think about your family's long-term goals and not just your own before making a decision, say Kneebone. "Make sure everyone is in agreement with what you are doing."
It can be smart to take a pay cut in order to be happier. But not if you trade work misery for misery at home.
BE HONEST ABOUT THE SACRIFICE
To a smoker, a 30-a-day habit might be a non-negotiable. Someone else might draw the line at moving to a worse house or suburb. If that is the case, be honest and build it into the budget, says Kneebone.
He wishes someone had told him this when he quit his well-paid advertising career for a job paying about half as much at the Commission for Financial Literacy.
"To be honest, we didn't cut the cloth to meet our needs quickly enough and I was left with more high interest debt than I should have had," he says.
"We knew we had to do it but we didn't want to let go of the lifestyle we had. It is an issue I've seen so many times over the past seven years with so many New Zealanders just refusing to alter things quickly enough."
Brass' family had to contend with two fallen incomes because her husband has also decided to re-train. (Little wonder that one of their daughters thought the couple might be having a joint mid-life crisis.) They planned a firm budget at the outset and have so far avoided money trouble in their double-adult-student family.
"We had a house, double income, two cars, the whole thing, in Nelson. We sold our house and we knew what level of mortgage we could cope with in Wellington," Brass says. "We've gone down to one car and we live fairly simply."
Brass' husband Phil helps the business by doing its research, while getting straight As at university studying third world development. In seven years the pair hope to be living in a developing country using their new skills.
In the meantime Brass is short of the one thing she could never have saved or budgeted for anyway: time. In theory she splits it evenly between work and study.
"The reality is I don't sleep much," she says on the phone from her car, having ducked out in the middle of running a training session.
"I've been up since 3am, working and studying. It is a real juggling act."
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