Why having more than one career can help you be happier at work

Ever dreamed about a career switch? Perhaps you sit behind an office desk every day, but you really enjoy gardening? Could being a landscape gardener be the job for you? And could it make you happier at work?

It’s not uncommon to dream about switching to a career that’s drastically different from your current job. But in most cases, it’s rare for people to actually make the leap and jack in all the career progress you’ve made to date. The costs of switching seem too high and the chances of success too slim. With mortgages, weddings, kids and job security being the chief worries that might be impacted by a career change, it’s not surprising that you’ll probably sit behind that office desk until you retire.

Or is it?

Perhaps the answer isn’t to plug away at your one and only job, feeling unfulfilled every day. Perhaps you could do more than one job? Or perhaps you could make a transition from one job to another. Here’s how to do it.

Keep learning new skills

Subsidise your passions by working pro bono or utilising your salary. Say you do want to be a commercial gardener. With no track record of successful landscaping projects, nobody is going to pay you to rip up their lawn. But, if you could remodel your own garden and volunteer to help others with theirs, you could gain valuable experience in a completely new industry.

Perhaps your day job could afford you with the capital you need to retrain in your spare time? With gardening, the best lessons are often learnt on the job. But, if you want to be a web designer, are there any good design courses out there which could be worth investment? Maybe you’ll find that your second job doesn’t need to pay you back financially – it might be rewarding enough to do something you really enjoy and see others reap the benefits from your efforts.

Make friends in different circles

Let’s say you are in banking. It’s highly likely that if you log on to LinkedIn and check your connections, around 90% of your network will work in the financial services sector. You probably know lots of traders, analysts, advisors and sales reps. As a whole, you can build up a view of your industry and make predictions about your business. However, if you really want to work in marketing, and not banking, then your goal to change careers will be much harder if nobody else in your network knows anything about marketing, or needs a marketer.

As part of your new mission to diversify, do everything you can to build up networks in different circles. If you want to be a marketer, go to marketing events, trade shows, learn new marketing skills and attend relevant seminars. You’ll soon build up your contacts in the industry you’d like to conquer in the future.

Discover new innovations

When you work different jobs, you can identify where ideas interact — and more significantly, where they should interact. “It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing,” said Steve Jobs, who was the embodiment of interdisciplinary thinking.

When you follow your curiosities, you will bring passion to your new careers, which will leave you more fulfilled. And by doing more than one job, you may end up doing all of them better. Eventually, you might even find that you can switch careers, without any risk at all.