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How to change career & make the right choices

How to change career & make the right choices

If you’re looking for a career change to start working in the outdoor industry, Womenclimb Founder & CEO talks us through some of the things you might consider to help make your transition a smooth one. 

Changing jobs can feel like an upheaval, and changing career is often a step further. As a career adviser in my day job at a University campus, almost every day I get to see people who are changing their career, so this has given me a good perspective on what’s important to consider when you’re thinking about making a change. It’s really important to recognise that there is no single right way to do this and these are suggestions for you to try out. Every path through life is different, so don’t feel pressure to do things the same way that other people have done them. If you’ve found a different way and you’re happy to make mistakes along the way, give it a go. 

1. Make a Plan

Even though it might be tempting to jump straight in, before you take the plunge, it’s worth making a plan. The plan could consist of everything that follows here: 

2. Write it down

Whatever you plan to do, write it down. There is a mountain of evidence that when you write down your goals, you are much more likely to take the small actions every day and every week to achieve the goal. 

3. Get to know yourself

It is very difficult to make a good choice about what to do if we haven’t reflected on ourselves, our skills and our qualities. To understand yourself better you might want to think about the following things: 

Skills and qualities

Do a skills assessment. Identify your strengths and work out if you want to develop your weaknesses or if you’re happy where you are. 


Are you desperate to leave your job and would do anything right now? Are you motivated heavily by money? Is job security at the top of your list. Our motivations heavily influence the decisions we make. We don’t have to change these, but by being self-aware we can identify when our motivations are influencing our decision-making. 

What’s important to you

This is one of the most crucial aspects. What are your life priorities? Do you want to be employed or work for yourself? What working patterns work best for you? In your previous jobs what things have been great? What has been awful? Make a list and prioritise the things that are important to you. For me, autonomy is number one – I like to have the freedom to organise my own time, but also I like to have a structure to work within. Knowing this has helped me realise some jobs aren’t a good fit. It’s saved me the time of applying for jobs that aren’t a good match. 


Do you have/want to have children? Whatever your gender, having children will affect your working patterns. Are there things in your life that are fixed and which you can’t work around? Can you travel for work? Can you move cities? These will all have an impact of your career choices. 

What are you like? 

Are you an M&S kinda person who likes a quiet, steady life, or more of a disruptor like Airbnb? This aspect of your reflection can come into play when you’re choosing an employer, but at this stage it can also help you think about whether the types of jobs that match your personality are available in the industry. It may be that you 

4. Do the research

For some people this is the best bit. It’s like planning a foreign holiday or an adventure. You get to explore and find out what’s out there before making your decision During this part of the process, you should always expect to find out something new or unexpected. 

5. Match things up

Once you’ve researched what’s out there and reflected on yourself, then it’s time to get matching. If you hate working with people and communicating verbally or working under pressure aren’t your style, then being an instructor might not work for you, but there might be other roles that match up better. Bring together your research and your self-knowledge to find a good fit. If you’re struggling with that, you can 

6. Be realistic 

Anyone moving jobs, locations or careers is likely to face a pay cut, whether that is temporary or more permanent. In the outdoor industry, where average instructor salaries are below the national average, this is a big consideration. 

7. Budget & Finances

Before taking the plunge, it’s worth doing a budget to work out what you spend now, what you would spend in your new career (there may be additional or lower costs. From this you can work out if your current lifestyle is sustainable or if you would need to make some adaptations when you change career. Other options include:

Saving money now to give yourself a buffer

Moving in with parents/family to cut costs

Renting out a room in your home

Making extra money from a side hustle

Starting your new career part-time only 

8. Talk to professionals

There are a whole range of professionals in the industry who can help you to make the right choices for you, from instructors to training companies to career advisers like me. Make use of those professionals, and expect to pay for their time at around £200 per day or £40+ per hour.  They are the experts after all, and they can help you avoid very expensive pitfalls. Becky Coles is one of the professionals I’ve worked with who offers a mentoring package to support people in their career decision-making around moving into the outdoor industry. 

The purpose of these discussions would usually focus on gaining the information you need to help you to decide whether it’s actually the right move for you. Other people may love their jobs, but if it’s not the right match for you, then you may not love it. Do your best to be objective and think about your future self. 

9. Listen cautiously 

We all have our own biases and motivations, whether that’s being risk averse, or being spontaneous if someone says something’s a good idea. So, when your mum says ‘that’s such a dangerous thing to do, Ikra’, it might be worth researching, to weigh up the facts and make a rational assessment. It might be dangerous, but the chances are it’s probably not (did you know that you’re more likely to get injured playing football than going climbing?).  

10. Believe in yourself & find a tribe who believe in you

Many of us are put off because we don’t have the belief in ourselves and our ability to overcome challenges. In life, you have already had millions of problems to overcome, from learning how to walk, to knowing when to speak up in a meeting. This is the same. The chances are you will come across problems that you’ve never considered, and almost every time you will find a way to overcome or sidestep the problem. As humans we have an incredible capacity for personal growth and resilience in the face of adversity.

Believe in yourself. Prepare in advance – find others who will help you to stay positive when believing in yourself is difficult.

Good luck in your journey and if you would like career advice to make the right choice, drop me a message: emily@womenclimb.co.uk


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