9 Lives for Women Blog

Have No Fear of Switching Gears | March 13th, 2012

It’s an interesting phenonemom that some of the most successful women are the most fearful about leaving the safety net of a familiar, tried and true career.  I’ve spoken to so many fast-track women who seem to think they are one trick ponies—when I know, with a little confidence boost, they can do every trick in the book.

When you look around you’ll probably see lots of examples of women who changed careers—sometimes pretty drastically.  I know a woman who was once an operations executive for a major fashion designer—and now she’s a nurse.  Another woman travels to find semi-precious stones for a very high-end jewelry business instead of traveling to investment banking deals.  A former TV producer is now a life coach.

To me, it’s no surprise that all these smart women jumped into entirely new careers and found almost instant success.  Why wouldn’t they?   Most women jump into the hardest job of all—motherhood—with very little training, experience or knowledge.  On Day 1 of our motherhood job we’re expected to perform at peak level, in many critical and diverse areas, all at the same time.  We need to snap to it and become pseudo experts in nutrition, discipline, education, coaching, psychology, medicine and much more in record time.  With the motherhood job there’s no choice but to jump in, gather all our life resources and use our best instincts.

Switching careers is no different.   Once you’ve done your due diligence on a new area and you feel you’re making the right move, just jump in.

A huge part of that due diligence is taking an honest inventory of your current career.  It’s not just a simple matter of figuring out what you like and you don’t like.  You have to dig deeper and think about what really motivates you, energizes you, gives you pride, makes you stretch, offers a creative outlet, etc.  If you get a charge out of creating and managing teams, then you probably shouldn’t embark in a two-woman venture.  If you love to develop partnerships with many different constituencies, don’t choose a new job that’s very insular.  If you’re an expansive thinker who thrives on activity in global markets, you ultimately may not be happy in your small town government.

Initially any change can seem like it would be a good change.  But if a possible career path doesn’t include the “feel good” elements you have in your current career, it’s sure to sour over time.  Continue to feed your professional soul, and you’ll have no trouble at all switching gears.

  • Stay true to your professional soul and you will move with ease along many different career paths.
  • Resist the urge to downsize too drastically.  You may need a brief rest not a longer very low voltage career.
  • Seek out women who have successfully transitioned to very different careers: get their do’s and don’ts.
  • Subscribe to More magazine—all their articles give inspiration to women who want to take new risks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to the Work-Life Blend Newsletter