Monday, November 7, 2011

Making a Career Change: Step 1 Get a Handy Dandy Notebook

I have a friend who works in real estate. He started his own business in New York City and just recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. Specifically, he handles corporate relocation (i.e. an employee gets money to move to a new city, the employee gives the money to my friend who helps the employee find an apartment). Obviously, this industry has fallen on some shaky times lately. Not only did the market crash but companies slowed down their employee relocation programs. Thus, my friend's business struggled and he decided that it was in his best interest to pursue something else. So he enrolled in a graduate program to become an elementary school teacher. During this program he realized that teaching wasn't for him and that he actually liked the freedom and exhilaration he got from being his own boss and working as hard as he could to help his business stay alive.

What my friend did was assess his career path in order to confirm that he was happy with where he was going, challenged on the job, utilizing his strengths, and emotionally and financially pleased with what he was doing. He found something amiss in his assessment (the crashing market and decreased business) and saw how that put his family at risk so he developed a plan to fix it. He spent time and money on a graduate program but ended up not using the degree right away.  That degree is certainly in his pocket in case something goes wrong down the road.  For now, though, his business is operating better than it ever has. (By the way, if you need NYC Real Estate services let me know. I'll connect you to him.)

When I was making the decision to leave the theatre and pursue a different career I was the complete opposite of my friend. I too assessed my situation and came up with something, many things actually, amiss. But it was difficult to make a plan. It was hard to get over the idea that I had spent so much time, energy and money earning a degree I wouldn't end up needing whereas he went out and got a degree just in case he needed it.  My long term goals always involved a lengthy and prosperous theatre career, first working professionally and then teaching. All of my training, my network, my application materials, and my career experiences were focused in theatre and I hadn't a clue as to how to use any of them to find a job in another industry. I was fairly certain that I could and would be successful doing other things, I just didn't know what those thing were nor how I was going to find them. It was intimidating, humbling and scary to say the least. 

Yet, here we both are on the other side and doing just fine. He stayed where he was and made it, realizing he was doing what he wanted to do. I executed a change because I was burnt out and defeated, and I made it. You will make it too.

If you find yourself with disillusionment about your career choice, if you flat out don't like what you are doing, if you are intimidated and scared about making a career change, if you feel like you need a change because something has happened in your industry, or if you just feel like it's time to move on but don't know how, then repeat after me "I can and will do this." Say it over and over. Believe it. Say it again! Once you believe it, you are ready to get started:

Step 1: Get a Handy Dandy Notebook (Yes my boys watch Blue's Clues!)
You need a place to write things down because there's going to be a lot of list making and brainstorming and being able to have it all in one organized place will make the process easier for you. It can be spiral bound, a three ring binder, a trapper keeper, a journal with rainbows and unicorns or even a computer file (although I recommend using actual pen and paper). Just make sure you get something. Down the road, when you are actually in the midst of making the change this notebook is going to be the best resource you could have because we're going to fill it with information about you which you'll then be able to utilize in networking, cover letters and interviews.

1 comment:

  1. I know that I will be in a spot in the near future where I need to find a new career path. I am terrified about the idea of starting the process. The stories you shared in this blog are inspirational. Reading what you wrote certainly helps to build confidence and yes, I will remember to say "I can do this!" I imagine your boys also read "The Little Engine That Could." Thanks for taking the time to write.