You’ve thought about a career change lying on the beach, daydreaming during meetings and walking the dog around the block. You’re tired of what you’re doing now—and anxious to move on. But before you run haphazardly toward a new career, do your homework to make sure you’ll walk with more precision on a well-defined path.
Many resources—at all levels of complexity and price–are readily available to help the soon to be transformed. You can go the simple route through books or invest more serious money to hire a step-by-step coach. The method you choose is less important than taking five preliminary steps I’ve learned through trial and error, four major entrepreneurial ventures and many career incarnations: as caterer, corporate trainer, conference developer, investment marketing strategist, trade show manager, book publisher, recruiter, career coach, event manager and more.
GET A FULL FINANCIAL TUNE-UP. Find out if your reinvention idea makes long-term dollars and sense. Melissa Ciotoli, a wealth advisor at Price Financial Group in Wilton, CT, transitioned to the workforce after a 10-year family hiatus. She now tells clients to thoroughly research how a career break or the compensation for any new job or entrepreneurial venture will impact long-term security. “Very often,” Ciotoli notes, “career reinvention requires financial reengineering. Even a slight dip in income—or period of no income while building a business—can negatively impact retirement savings.”
When I co-founded a recruiting business, for example, start-up experts told us we wouldn’t be writing ourselves paychecks anytime soon. They said most new businesses don’t turn a profit for an average of five years. And they were right on the money–or lack thereof. As a new entrepreneur, you need to plan for a similar lapse in income.
That lapse in income is a double whammy because you’re not earning money you can spend and save. Assume during a five-year start-up period you suspend a monthly savings schedule of $500. Ciotoli estimates that the $34,000 you would have saved during that period could have grown (using a 5% interest rate) to over $90,000 in just 20 years. You need to think far ahead and determine if a similar “loss” could put a big crack in your retirement nest egg.
REBALANCE YOUR LIFE PORTFOLIO. Reinvention gives you the opportunity to fit a new career more neatly into all aspects of your life. The Boston-based firm, New Directions, www.newdirections.com, coaches clients at all ages to create a Life Portfolio® –a process that aligns your personal and professional assets, values, motivations, goals and realities at every life stage. Founder David Corbett, also author of Portfolio Life: The New Path to Work, Purpose, and Passion after 50, created the life portfolio concept to integrate income-producing activities, family, interests, travel, giving back, new learning, and more for a fully balanced and satisfying life.
Life Portfolio coaching runs $15,000 to $75,000 depending on the program you choose. A former product development executive for several technology companies gave himself this very personalized, comprehensive coaching which led to “permission to try new things”. He created a Life Portfolio centered around work as a professional sculptor, teacher, non-profit board member and humanitarian.
“I did not walk away from my business skills—I used them to rebalance and expand the most important aspects of my life.”
Rebalancing is particularly important when you’re considering an entrepreneurial venture. How much time will be left for your family, exercise, hobbies—the things that keep you happy, less stressed and fulfilled? Unless you have huge financial backing and the ability to hire staff on Day 1, a business can consume your life 24/7. My Type A personality and zeal for building out a business make the “off” button elusive. Without a lot of self-control and reminders of all ways I find life satisfaction, my personal time dwindles to zero.
TAKE A DEEP DIVE INTO YOUR TRUE MOTIVATIONS. You could want to be a circus clown, an organic farmer or a teacher in an under-served school, but whether you should be is another matter. There’s no changing or downsizing your professional DNA: for true happiness, fulfillment and success you can’t ignore your core motivations. Debra Levine, EVP of Tampa, FL-based Paul Hertz Group (wwwpaulhertzgroup.com), began her career with a coveted—but ultimately miserable—job at a world renowned hospital. Years later she created PRINT®–a quick, easy and affordable ($275) online tool to help others avoid similar despair.
I needed the PRINT® survey when I was a newly minted college graduate with an English degree. At the time I thought I launched a very logical job search: I liked to write, so I thought I would be happy in any environment where people were writing.
What I didn’t realize then—and what PRINT® has shown me now—is that to be really, truly motivated, productive and happy I have to be in a job where creativity is constantly flowing, new ideas are welcomed and there are lots of opportunities to think up new approaches, products or services. That’s not what I found in my first job, in a big accounting firm’s training department, where everything was very sterile and “by the book”.
DEVELOP YOUR RIGHT BRAIN. Whether you’re driven by creativity or analysis, Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, says that right brainers (those more intuitive, thoughtful and subjective) are poised to rule the world. Wilton, CT based life coach Susie Bedsow Horgan assigns Pink’s book to all new clients seeking career reinvention. Horgan, now in her fifth career (including a stint as the Emmy award-winning producer of a daytime soap), says the book gives direction and structure to all professional yearnings. Author Pink chronicles the move from the information age to the conceptual age and tells you how to use right brain survival tactics for any job you pursue.
Horgan recalls one client who was stuck in a Cincinnati cubicle doing marketing drudge work for a manufacturing company. She had an MFA in creative writing but never thought that degree would help her earn a decent living. When she read Pink’s book, she felt there was a professional—and lucrative—future for her right brain talents. Six months later she left the cubicle and returned to her true passions. Now this right brainer more than meets all her living expenses as a professional writer and a paid adviser to artists who learn to make money doing the work they love.
FIND YOUR REINVENTION GURUS. To keep her business moving in positive directions, Boulder, CO based executive coach Ginny Corsi (who counts journalism, state government and Wall Street marketing among her many professional lives), follows the words of Roger Fransecky, CEO of The Apogee Group, a global management consulting and leadership development organization in Omaha, NE. Fransecky imparts “wisdom when you’re ready” via RSS feed (www.apogeeceo.com), and helps CEOs and mere professional mortals achieve personal and collective “apogee”–the highest level of performance and sustainable results.
Part prophet, cheerleader and life coach, Fransecky gives his readers a free subscription to self-reflection. He quotes poets, philosophers and CEOs–and through his own thoughtful commentary gives everyone license to renew and reinvent.
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