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A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” – Zig Ziglar

Ben had never quite fitted into the ‘traditional’ idea of the way we should live our lives; the white picket fence, 2.4 children and a mortgage, however, somehow this was exactly where he found himself. Trapped in an existence he wasn’t content with and in lot of debt from his previous startup falling through. It wasn’t until it all began to unravel that he had to take a proper look at his life and work out if all he was doing was surviving, not actually living.

Ben was a candidate I dealt with, who I knew had more aspirations and skills than he could ever have dreamed of. In short, this wasn’t the life for him and that was plainly obvious over the course of the time I knew him. He wasn’t the type of person who would ever have been content with your standard ‘adult’ life, he wanted to see the world, explore and use his creativity for the good of those around him.

He had a strong imagination and could instantly bring photographs to life and you could tell that this was something he loved doing. He also enjoyed helping and making a difference to the life of other people and these were two things that could go hand in hand together.

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That was Ben’s story and there is more about it. If you find yourself with the same attitude and believe me, more people do than you could ever imagine or would ever admit to, you may want to explore some of these steps to achieving your goals and ultimately, create the life you desire.

Many people spend their whole life dreaming about settling down and taking out a mortgage. It’s what society in general aspires to and the way you know you’ve “made it” in life. However, what if you get the mortgage and the white picket fence and realise it isn’t what you wanted after all? The way people think is slowly changing and as a career advisor, I had an experience with a candidate who ended up bankrupt through their desire to have all of these possessions, yet they were never truly happy.

When they told me they were giving it all up to become a travel photographer, I couldn’t have been happier for them. I felt, from getting to know them that this would be the kind of life they would have loved. It wasn’t an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. The need to file for bankruptcy and, of course, the courage of letting go of their life and possessions to go into a new world was completely unknown and in many ways, very scary.

The point to remember is, if you want to do something, you should go for it. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or what everyone else thinks is the right way to live your life. You should always follow your own desires and dreams and do what makes you happy. After all, it is your journey and no one else’s.

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“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

If you do like the idea of becoming an independent traveller, these are some of the steps you might want to take in order to reach your goal.

1. Make the Decision

The most important step and possibly the most difficult, is to actually make the decision to change your life and become an independent traveller. If this is something you aspire to, then the sooner you make that decision, the quicker you can start to put your plans into action. My candidate had her epiphany after travelling around India, sitting on a boat on the river Ganges at dusk. But your photography epiphany could begin anywhere at any place, you just need to feel it and make a decisive plan to work on it.

2. Saving Money

In the case above, the candidate I was dealing with was made bankrupt, so they had no debt to pay off. If you find yourself in a similar position, it might be worth taking this step too. If you want to travel, this will give you the financial freedom to do so and will allow you to start saving straight away. The benefit of this kind of lifestyle is that you won’t need credit for mortgages, loans or anything like that. You will be completely free and this can be such an amazing and freeing feeling: no longer having to find the money to make ends meet but instead, having the freedom to save money and embark on an exciting journey.

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3. Which Job?

There are far more options available now for those who want to work independently and travel, whether it is photography or another line of work, it’s important to plan out what you are going to do. In photography, when moving into a freelance position even as a travel photographer, it’s important to focus on a niche. My candidate focused on South East Asian travel photography and now she has popular travel publications calling her up for assignments whenever they want to focus on a country in this region.

4. Plan Your Route

Just as you want to focus on a niche make sure you choose an area you are particularly fond of – or intrigued by! You will need to decide on where you actually want to go first and what route you will take. The world is your oyster, so you have many options to choose from. This can be an exciting prospect of it’s the own, the chance to just say, “I’m going here” and to start on a journey which could lead to anywhere.

5. Finding Work

There is, of course, the aspect of finding freelance work when you get to your chosen destination. No one said the journey would be easy, so you will need to be prepared to break doors down to find work and to work really hard. It might be a good idea to try some freelance websites prior to arriving and find out if there is any work you can do offline. In the case of a travelling photographer, you may want to phone up companies in the local area and let them know when you will be arriving.

Social media can also be a great way to let potential customers know where you are and what you can do for them. In the case of my candidate it was apparent that with her little money she needed to find frugal measures to become acknowledged, she entered travel photo competitions and approached image libraries to host her images. This opened new doors for work at low expense.

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6. Making the Break

Although this choice of lifestyle comes with its share of advantages, it can also be a difficult choice to make. You will not only need to get rid of all of your possessions, but also saying goodbye to your friends and family can be a very difficult part of it. No one said it would be easy, but if it makes you happy, then it is worth jumping over the difficult hurdles. For more inspiration, take a look at this article and when all is said and done no one is in charge of your own happiness but you.

Featured photo credit: Chris Hunkeler via flickr.com

More by this author

Joe Flanagan

Outplacement Specialist

Dealing With a Sudden Job Loss 7 Things You Need To Do The Moment You Lose Your Job Preparing for a Careers Fair 6 Quick Ways to Prepare For Your First Career Fair A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Is It Time for a Career Change? (And How to Make the Change)

Are you challenged at work? Do you regret career decisions? Are you happy? If the answer to the questions leads to a negative feeling, it is time to determine next steps.

Many people settle for a career that no longer brings satisfaction. Most will respond by stating, “I am surviving” if a colleague asks them “How’s work?”

Settling for a job to pay bills and maintain a lifestyle is stagnation. You can re-direct the journey of a career with confidence by taking control of future decisions. After all, you deserve to be live a happy life that will offer a work-life balance.

Let’s look at the reasons why you need a career change and how to choose a career for a more fulfilling life.

How to Know if You Need a Career Change?

The challenges of dissatisfaction in a career can have a negative impact on our mental health. As a result, our mental health can lead to the obvious appearance of stress, aging, weight gain and internal health issues.

You deserve a career that will fulfill the inner desire of true happiness. Here are common factors that it is time for you to change your career.

Physical Signs

Are you aging since you started your job? Do you have anxiety? What about work-related injuries?

It feels amazing to receive a pay cheque, but you deserve to work in an environment that brings out the best of you. If the work environment is hazardous, speak to your boss about alternative options.

In the case that colleagues or your boss take advantage of your kindness, feeling the anxiety of fear of losing your job because of a high-stress environment may not be right for you.

Mental Signs

One out of five Americans has mental health issues, according to Mental Health America.[1] In most cases, it is related to stress.

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I remember working at a job in a work environment where harassment was acceptable. I had to walk on eggshells to avoid crossing the line with colleagues. My friends started to notice the difference in that I seemed out of character. It was then that I knew that changing a career to freelancing was the right decision.

Here is a list of mental signs of workplace unhappiness:

  • The tension in your neck
  • Difficulties with sleeping
  • Unable to concentrate
  • High anxiety
  • Depression

If you start to feel your self-esteem is diminishing, it is time to consider if working in a high-stress industry is for you. The truth is, this negative energy will be transferred to people in your life like friends and family.

Are You Sure You’re Not Changing for the Wrong Reason?

Most people that feel they need a career are frustrated with their situation at work. Do you really understand your current situation at work?

The reason it is important to think about the work situation is some people decide to change career for factors that are insignificant. Factors that can potentially change if the person works in a different department or new organization.

Here is a list of unimportant factors to think about before you decide to make the transition:

Desire for an Increase of Salary

The desire for a higher income can persuade some to believe they are in the wrong career. The issue with this is more money requires more time in the office or taking on several positions at a time.

At times, pursuing a high-income role can be the complete opposite of what one is expected. It is what happens when a colleague leaves a company to a new one and returns several years later.

Overnight Decision

Let’s face it. We make overnight decisions when stressed out or disappointed with situations at work. The problem with a quick decision is the negative and positive points is overlooked.

Rejected for a Promotion

I have heard stories of managers that applied ten times for a position throughout a 5-year period. Yes, it sounds to be a lengthy process, but at times, a promotion requires time. Avoid changing a career if you do not see the results of a promotion currently.

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Bored at Work

Think deeply about this point. If you work a job that is repetitive, it is normal to feel bored. You can spice it up by changing the appearance of your desk, socializing with new employees in a different department, joining a leadership committee at work or coming to work with enthusiasm. Sometimes, all it takes is you to change jobs into a fun situation.

A career change can take time, networking, education and the job search process can be a journey. Here is a list of things to consider before making a final decision:

  • How long have you worked in your career?
  • What is the problem at work? Do you work well with the team?
  • Do you receive recognition?
  • Can you consider working in a new department?

If after reviewing your work situation and none of the above recommendations can help, then it’s time to make a career change.

How a Career Change Will Change Your Life

I have a friend that works in the medical industry. She was once a nurse working directly with patients in one of the top hospitals in her area. After five years, she started to internalize the issues with her patients to the point where she felt depressed after work hours. It impacted her relationship with her family and she almost lost herself.

One day, she decided to wake up and take control of her destiny. She started applying for new medical jobs in the office. It meant working on medical documentation of patients which is not an ideal career based on what society expects a medical professional to perform. But she started to feel happier.

It is a classic example of a person that was negatively impacted by issues at work, stayed in the same industry but changed careers.

A career change can fulfill a lifelong dream, increase one’s self-esteem or revive the excitement for one’s work.

You know a career change can be the right decision to make if you experience one or all of these:

  • Working in a negative workplace: Don’t be discouraged. A negative workplace can be changed by working at a new organization.
  • Working with a difficult boss: The challenges of working with a difficult boss can be stressful. All it takes is communication. You can address the issue directly with a manager professionally and respectfully.
  • Feeling lost about what you do: Most people stay at their jobs and settle for mediocrity because of the fear of failure or the unknown. The rise to success often comes with working a tedious role or stepping outside of one’s comfort zone. If you fear the idea of being involved in activities that are new, remember that life is short. Mediocrity will only continue to make you feel as if life is passing you by.

How to Make a Career Change Successfully

The ultimate key to success is to go through a career transition step by step to avoid making the wrong decision.

1. Write a Career Plan

A career plan has a dead line for action steps that includes taking new courses, learning a new language, networking or improving issues at work.[2] A career plan should be kept in your wallet because it will motivate you to keep pursuing the role.

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You can learn how to set your career plan here.

2. Weigh Your Options

If you have a degree in Accounting, write down five positions in this industry of interest. The good news is diplomas and degrees can be used to a variety of roles to choose.

You don’t have to stick to what society holds a top job. In the end, choosing the right role that will make you happy is priceless.

3. Be Real About the Pros and Cons

It is time to be honest about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the job market that are impacting the current situation.

A SWOT Analysis of a career can include:[3]

  • Economic factors
  • Direct competition: Is this role in high demand?
  • Location: Do you need to move? If the goal is to work in tech and living in Cincinnati is not realistic, consider moving to San Francisco.
  • Achievements: To stand out from the competition achievements like awards, committee involvement, freelance work or volunteering is a recipe for success.
  • Education: Do you need to go back to school? Education can be expensive. However, online courses, webinars or self-study is an option.

    A career blueprint is the first step to creating realistic goals. A person without goals will be disappointed without a clear direction of what to do next.

    4. Find a Mentor or Career Coach

    A mentor or a career coach that works in the desired position can share the pros and cons of working in the role. Here is a list of questions to ask a mentor:

    • What is required to be successful in the role?
    • What certification or educational development is needed?
    • What are the challenges of the role?
    • Is there potential for career advancement?

    A chat at a coffee shop with a mentor can change your mind about the desire for a career change.

    Find out how to pick a good mentor for yourself in this article: How to Find a Mentor That Will Help You Succeed

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    5. Research Salary

    Some people decide to change careers for a role that pays less or perks like benefits to make up for the difference in previous to potential salary.

    It can reveal the cities throughout the country that offer a higher salary for those that have an interest in relocating for work.

    6. Be Realistic

    If your goal is to move up into an executive position, it is time to be honest about where you are in your career.

    For example, if boardroom meetings, high-level discussions about financials or attending weekly networking events are boring, an executive role may not be right for you. If you are an introvert and working with people every day is nerve wrecking, you need to reconsider a job in sales.

    Ask yourself if you can work in this role for the next five years of your life. If other benefits that come with the role are enticing, other roles are fit that will make you happy.

    7. Volunteer First

    A person that wants to become a manager should take on volunteer opportunities to experience the reality of the position.

    Becoming a committee member to pursue a presidential opportunity can provide a perspective on leadership, maintaining a budget and public speaking.

    Volunteer in a role until you are certain that it is the right opportunity.

    8. Prepare Your Career Tools

    I recommend asking a boss, colleague or mentor for career tools. If you prefer professional assistance, you can seek out resume writing assistance. Here is a list of things to consider when preparing career tools:

    • Online search: Search your name online to see what shows up. I recommend searching images that are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or other sites on a personal account. The last thing you want to realize is the job search is unsuccessful because there is unprofessional content you posted online.
    • Be LinkedIn ready: Recruiters conduct a LinkedIn search to see if the work experience is the same on a resume. Remember to change the wording on LinkedIn from the resume, or it will appear there was no effort put into creating the profile.
    • Portfolio: A portfolio of work is recommended for people that work in the arts, writing, graphic design and other fields. I recommend a portfolio online and one that is available in hand when attending job interviews or networking meetups.
    • Cover letter: A good cover writer will always impress your potential employers. Here’s how to write a killer cover letter that stands out from others.

    Bottom Line

    It takes time to move towards a new career. Pay attention to the physical and mental signs to maintain your health. You deserve to work in happiness and come home stress-free. If you avoid the common mistakes people make, you will find a job and discover the role in a career field that is the best fit with your skillsets.

    Master these action steps and changing career paths will be on your terms to make the best decision for your future.

    More About Career Change

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

    [1] Mental Health America: The State of Mental Health in America
    [2] MIT Global Education & Career Development: Make a Career Plan
    [3] Creately: Personal SWOT Analysis to Assess and Improve Yourself

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