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Last update: Jun 03, 2024

My Step-by-Step Guide: How I Changed My Career

How I changed my Career
Photo of Catherine Cooke

Written by

Catherine Cooke

Catherine Cooke

Upskillwise Advisor

I'm Catherine, originally from London, now living in Spain. My professional journey led me from being a certified teacher to a yoga instructor and then a freelancer designer. These changes were made possible by online learning platforms like Skillshare and Coursera. It wasn't always easy, but so worth it and inspired me to start Upskillwise.

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Nearly a decade ago, I took a leap that would change my career path. I left London for Madrid, and two years later, I found myself in Barcelona, where I made the bold decision to step away from teaching completely. I retrained as a yoga instructor, honed my skills as a graphic designer, and finally launched Upskillwise in 2019. Looking back, I can see that none of these choices were made on a whim. There were moments of uncertainty and a few bumps along the road, but ultimately, each twist and turn helped me grow both personally and professionally.

Catherine Cooke author of the post and education and freelance expert

To write this article, I’ve taken my own personal experience along with researching how others have made a career change. This article is honest and personal, and hopefully acts as a guide to help you when the time comes to make the same transition.

Catherine CookeUpskillwise Advisor

Inspired by my journey, I’ve created this step-by-step guide, where I share the lessons I’ve learned along the way that have helped me navigate my own career change. Let’s dive in!

How I changed my career

1. Self-Discovery

For me, the best place to start was with some self-reflection. I took a good, hard look at my current situation and asked myself a bunch of questions—some of which weren’t easy to answer. This introspective journey helped me pinpoint what truly made me happy, along with my core values, skills, and interests.

It’s crucial to be clear about why you want a career change. Are you unhappy in your current job? Seeking a better work-life balance? Considering a move to a new country or city? Being as honest as possible with yourself and your expectations during this self-reflection process will boost your confidence and reassure you in your decision to pursue a career change.

Top Tips on Self-Reflection:

  • Ask the Hard Questions
  • Identify Core Values
  • Evaluate Your Skills
  • Honest About Motivation
  • Realistic Expectations

2. Explore New Fields

Once I had done some self reflecting, I began exploring new fields that piqued my interest. Starting with researching potential career paths that aligned with my skills and passions. This exploration phase was eye-opening, as it helped me discover opportunities I hadn’t previously considered.

To understand what these new roles entailed, I began reading job descriptions and researching the day-to-day realities of various positions. This involved looking into the specific tasks, responsibilities, and expectations for each role. Additionally, I examined industry trends and future job opportunities. This deep dive into the nitty-gritty details gave me a clearer picture of what to expect and helped me make informed decisions about which path to pursue.

Top Tips on Exploring New Fields:

  • Identify Career Paths
  • Read Job Descriptions
  • Research Day-to-Day Realities
  • Examine Industry Trends
  • Future Job Opportunities

3. Boost Your Skills

The next, natural step, was identifying and bridging the gaps in my skill set. I knew that to transition successfully into a new field, I needed to develop relevant skills that would make me a competitive candidate. This realization set me on a path of continuous learning and professional growth.

I started by assessing my current skills and identifying areas that needed improvement. Online learning courses became my go-to resource. Platforms like Coursera and MasterClass offered a wealth of courses that were both accessible and flexible, allowing me to learn at my own pace. Additionally, I found that workshops and certification programs provided more hands-on experience and credibility to my resume.

Top Tips on Developing Skills:

  • Identify Skill Gaps
  • Take Online Courses
  • Get Accredited
  • Hands-On Experience
  • Stay Up to date with Industry

4. Plan Your Move

A crucial part of my career change journey was crafting a solid transition plan. I realized early on that having a clear, realistic timeline was essential to navigate the shift smoothly and minimize stress. This approach allowed me to break down the overwhelming process into manageable steps, making the whole experience much more attainable. First, I considered my financial needs. Changing careers often means a temporary dip in income, so I created a budget to ensure I could manage my expenses during the transition. Savings played a significant role here, providing a cushion that allowed me to focus on my career goals without constant financial anxiety.

Next, I looked into online learning courses, and allocated time each week to research and take online courses and workshops, ensuring steady progress without overwhelming myself.

Top Tips on Creating a Transition Plan:

  • Assess Your Financial Situation
  • Research Training Requirements
  • Create a Learning Schedule
  • Network and Connect with Industry Professional
  • Develop a Job Search Strategy

5. Build A Network

Once I built some confidence with upskilling myself, I slowly began connecting with others in my desired industry. I quickly realized that connecting with professionals in the field was essential to gain insights, find job opportunities, and establish myself in the new domain. Networking became a vital tool in my career transition toolkit.

I started by reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn, sending personalized messages to introduce myself and express my interest in their work. This approach helped me build meaningful connections and gather valuable advice. Attending industry events, both online and in-person, also played a significant role. These events provided opportunities to meet and learn from experts, expanding my network further. Additionally, I joined relevant online communities where I could engage in discussions, share knowledge, and stay updated with industry trends.

Top Tips on Networking:

  • Reach Out on LinkedIn
  • Attend Industry Events
  • Join Online Communities
  • Engage in Discussions
  • Learn from Experts

6. Adapt & Thrive

Finally, staying persistent and adaptable is what will make all the difference in your career change journey. I quickly learned that career changes rarely go as planned, so it was essential to adjust my approach when necessary. Embracing this mindset allowed me to navigate setbacks and view them as valuable learning opportunities rather than roadblocks. This perspective kept me motivated and resilient throughout the process.

Every setback I encountered became a chance to refine my strategy. Whether it was a job application rejection or a challenging course, I used these experiences to learn and grow. Celebrating small victories also played a crucial role in maintaining my momentum. Each milestone, no matter how minor, was a reminder of the progress I was making and the dedication I was putting into my career change. By staying persistent, productive and adaptable, I was able to keep my goals in sight and continue moving forward, even when the journey became tough.

Top Tips on Staying Persistent and Adaptable:

  • Embrace Setbacks as Learning Opportunities
  • Celebrate Small Victories
  • Seek Support and Feedback
  • Stay Flexible with Your Plan
  • Maintain a Positive Mindset

Last Thoughts: How I changed my Career

Changing careers is a transformative journey that requires a blend of self-reflection, exploration, skill development, planning, networking, and persistence. My own path—from teaching in Barcelona to becoming a yoga instructor, a graphic designer, and finally launching Upskillwise—was filled with challenges and triumphs. Each step taught me invaluable lessons that helped shape my professional and personal growth.

Remember, the key to a successful career change lies in understanding your motivations, exploring new fields, developing relevant skills, creating a solid transition plan, and building a robust network. Stay persistent and adaptable, and don’t shy away from setbacks—they’re often your best learning opportunities. Embrace every small victory and keep your end goal in sight. Your career change journey will be unique, but with determination and the right strategies, you can navigate it confidently. So take that leap, start your journey, and share your experiences along the way. If you’ve had a career change or looking to have one, please share your journey with us by commenting below, we’d love to hear from you.


The easiest career change is typically one that leverages your existing skills and requires minimal retraining. Roles in customer service, sales, and administrative support are often considered easier transitions, as they commonly require skills like communication, organization, and basic office software proficiency. Additionally, freelancing in areas like writing, graphic design, or tutoring can be straightforward if you already possess these marketable skills. The key is to identify your strengths and find a role that aligns with them.

Changing your career at 40 is totally doable and can be incredibly rewarding. Start by assessing your skills and interests to find a new direction. Research industries and roles that excite you, then fill any skill gaps with courses or certifications. Network with professionals in your desired field and update your resume and LinkedIn to reflect your transferable skills. Consider entry-level positions to gain experience, and don’t hesitate to seek a mentor for guidance. Stay positive and persistent—it’s never too late to pursue a fulfilling career!