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Taking the plunge into career No. 2

Chris Farrell Feb 7, 2011

Have you ever wanted to try a new career? Take a risk and embrace a job with lower pay but greater emotional rewards? Say good-bye to your work mates for the last time and go out on your own?

Of course, it’s hard to think about changing jobs–let alone a career–with 13.9 million workers unemployed 21 months after the end of the Great Recession. Another 11 million are stuck in part-time jobs even though they’d like to work full time or they’re marginally attached to the job market. But then again, ask yourself: What are you waiting for?

Fortune worked with Pamela Mitchell’s Reinvention Institute to come up with six people “brave enough to take the leap and change their careers.”

Among the transitions they highlight is mutual fund trader to standup comedian, software developer to company president, and advertising account executive into associate director of marketing at a nonprofit.

We can always learn from folks who have made major changes in their lives–the good and the bad. That’s a constant. And, of course, many people are forced to make a change after being laid-off in a declining industry.

Still, its under-appreciated that the realization that most of us will continue to work when we’re older is starting to affect how people look at work when younger. It should, too.

The financial penalty of working fewer hours and doing more of the things you love is much less than you might think with a longer career. Your standard of living will probably be the same if you work less but earn an income into your 70s compared to working more and then retiring at age 60 or 62.

It pays to think about what you really want to do. Play with the financial numbers. What would it take to fund a shift in career or job manageable? What are the risks? What is your margin of safety? You can do the calculations yourself, use online financial planning program or hire a CFP to come up with a blueprint for you.

These are questions worth asking and figuring out the answers.

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