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Should I Relocate and Change Careers?

A longtime library assistant in Hawaii wants to uproot her life and career and move to California — but is she really ready for such a big switch?

Can this career be saved?  Jennifer Bustard holds a newspaper

Photograph by Kevin Miyazaki Hair and Make-up: Kecia Littman

Jennifer Bustard wants to quit her job as a library assistant and start her own business.

After 14 years as a library assistant in Honolulu, Jennifer Bustard, 59, wants to quit her job, move to San Francisco and launch her own business, offering writing and research services. While she was born and raised in Hawaii, she says she no longer wants to stay and that it's time to follow her dream of self-employment.

Bustard is already vested in the library's retirement plan, which will provide a modest pension starting at age 62, so she feels more financial freedom to take the next step, although she needs to continue earning an income to cover her living costs.

Friendly input

"Jennifer is a Hawaii girl," says her friend Gina Musetti. "She was born here. To get out of Hawaii is a really big deal; most people never leave. So for her to even contemplate moving is so amazing and brave of her. I think she's ready for a change and to begin again."

Expert advice

Before moving or quitting her current job, Bustard should do more research on the career possibilities in California and reach out to people who have made a similar transition, says Los Angeles–based career coach John Tarnoff. Launching her business on the side in Hawaii would let her slowly build up clients. "Make it a gradual process," he says.

She's making the move

While Bustard acknowledges the wisdom of Tarnoff's advice to take things slowly, she wants to embrace the momentum she feels. "My gut feeling is I want to go and do it," she admits. She hopes to move to California in six months or so, then build her local connections and look for clients.