After spending eight years reinventing myself from a corporate VP to an entrepreneur, women’s career and life coach, author, speaker and women’s work-life expert, I’ve made a good number of huge mistakes and missteps that have tripped me up, and at times, caused me to hang my head in my hands in despair. I don’t believe in regret, and I do think that each and every one of these lessons has made me stronger, more expansive, more connected to who I really am, and ultimately more confident in my abilities to direct my life with satisfaction and joy.
Here are what I’ve learned are the top five mistakes to avoid when in career transition and embarking on professional reinvention. I’ve lived through these mistakes myself, and am stronger for it…but you don’t have to!
Don’t have a “build it and they will come” mentality without utilizing powerful financial, professional, and business-building tactics and strategies
Don’t make the mistake of confusing wishful thinking with powerful strategies for moving forward. Certainly, faith and optimism are essential, but so are sound business and professional goals, plans and tactics, developed with deep know-how and expertise (your own or a great consulting partner), fueled by conscious intention and fierce commitment.
Don’t underestimate how long it will take you to build a successful new career
Leave your ego at the door when you’re evaluating how long full reinvention will take. Get advice from true experts in the field on the amount of time it will take to launch your new career, and make it very successful. It’s been said that becoming an expert in a field takes 10 years (I believe that’s true), and creating a self-sustaining small consulting practice often takes at least five years.
Don’t neglect having a Plan B, and moving to it when it’s time
In my book Breakdown, Breakthrough, I talk about what it takes to reinvent yourself. Often it requires that you simply refuse to let in (mentally, emotionally, or spiritually) the possibility that you will fail (see Chapter 11 about the amazing comedian Monique Marvez’s journey to hell and back). If you want something badly enough, most likely you’ll find a way to get it. However, if you have a family to support, and other critical financial and other obligations that you feel you must fulfill in life, then you need a Plan B that will get you through the tough financial times. Use Plan B to help you stay afloat while all along moving forward to your career dreams.
Don’t wait too long to correct your course when you misstep or discover steps on your new path that are wrong for you
Set milestones (I will achieve this by this date, etc.), and review your progress frequently. If you’re way off course, you need to course-correct. Also, if where you’re going ends up feeling wrong, don’t keep going in the same direction. Don’t make yourself “wrong” for how you feel. Realize a change is necessary, and power up to make that change.
Don’t forget: A fantastic life takes fantastic risks
There’s an enormous difference between a “job” and a “calling.” Neither is better or worse – it simply depends on what you want for your life, based on your values and priorities. If it’s a calling you wish to follow, know now that it will require everything you’ve got to give, and then some. Please don’t expect a fantastic life without understanding that you must risk a great deal to live your life on the cutting edge of experience.
Other lessons I’ve learned through my eight-year reinvention:
- There will be times (many, in fact) that you have no idea what to do, and despite all your efforts, you fail at the task at hand
- If you don’t remain “teachable” at all times, you’ll suffer
- If you think you’re immune (to anything – the economy, challenges in the workplace, problems in building your business to a satisfactory level) you’re wrong
- When you lose your compassion for others who are challenged in their reinvention or in their efforts to launch themselves successfully, you’ll suddenly experience something that brings you back to humility
- You’ll need faith, patience, and perseverance in greater supply than you ever thought possible
- It’s not all up to you
- Reaching out for help is essential when you’re not where you want to be
- Being part of a like-minded community that offers support, guidance, and encouragement is a blessing and a good business strategy
- Career reinventing is a life-long process (not a one-time deal), and once you embark on it, it changes you forever. It’s a process that leads you to feel so appreciative of all that you are – flaws, gifts, strengths, blindspots and all – and so excited for each new day that brings you closer to yourself.
- Reinvention is not for the faint of heart, but oh my…if you’re up for it, what gifts it brings.
Wishing you a very happy reinvention!