Sometimes people are amazed that I switched from being a professional-quality flutist (I say professional quality because I didn't have a professional job as a flutist at the time) to being a beginning violinist at the age of 32. I believe that it is the best personal "move" I have ever made. It was also very easy to do.
When I moved to our small university town in 1985 I was welcomed as a flutist. It seems that they hadn't ever had a decent flute player in these parts, but I was a decent flutist without a master's degree, so I was unable to be hired by the university when the flutist who was here suddenly decided to leave town. I taught the students, but when it came time to hiring for the job here I guess I didn't have the necessary credentials.
Not being able to teach at the local university significantly narrowed down my chances of gainful employment, but the reason that I never got a master's degree in flute performance was that I didn't want to teach flute at a university. I didn't believe that it was ethical to teach flutists that if they had talent and practiced a lot they could make a living playing the flute. Even with all the practicing I did and all the talent that any person could want, I had a great deal of trouble trying to get work in Boston and in New York before I moved away; and the work I did get was not enough to even think of trying to make a living from. It had nothing to do with the quality of my playing, and had everything to do with knowing people (especially contractors) and being available. There was also relatively little work for flutists, and that work always went to people who had been around and connected for a long time. I know very few freelance flutists living in New York or Boston who make a decent living solely from their playing.
It seems that the moment I became a string player I had people to play with. The day the university orchestra director heard that I bought a violin (it might have been a day or two after I bought it), he came over to my house with orchestra music for me. I didn't even need to ask. The music was way above my violinistic head: Stravinsky's Firebird, but I did my best to try to play the second violin part. I continued playing violin in the orchestra until I bought a viola at a garage sale (really! It cost me $100 and it is a very reliable instrument) and started playing viola in the university orchestra. Then I started playing viola in a string quartet, and now I'm practicing the violin--finally getting some technique, and learning the violin repertoire. I'm playing viola in a couple of orchestras in a city about an hour's drive away, and I'm having a wonderful time. When I reflect on what my life would have become if I hadn't taken the steps to do what I always wanted to do, I shudder.