Themes emerged in the transitions. The protagonists had begun to feel unfulfilled by their work, and then a chance encounter with some world previously invisible to them led to a series of short-term explorations. At first, all career changers fell prey to the cult of the head start and figured it couldn’t possibly make sense to dispense with their long-term plans in favor of rapidly evolving short-term experiments. Sometimes they tried to talk themselves out of it. Their confidants advised them not to do anything rash; don’t change now, they said, just keep the new interest or talent as a hobby. But the more they dabbled, the more certain they were that it was time for a change. A new work identity did not manifest overnight, but began with trying something temporary, Hesselbein style, or finding a new role model, then reflecting on the experience and moving to the next short-term plan. Some career changers got richer, others poorer; all felt temporarily behind, but as in the Freakonomics coin-flip study, they were happier with a change.
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