I’ve significantly revised my career numerous times over my 25 years of working, and each time, I’ve learned some powerful, surprising lessons — about myself, my capabilities, perceptions, misconceptions, and about what it takes for me to attain what I want.
Each career shift led me down a new path, and often, the destination wasn’t at all what I’d hoped or planned. Huge mistakes were made, certainly, but what I’ve learned has been of great value and utility, allowing me to focus ever more closely on what matters to me.
As I examine my trajectory, my career paths have involved the following fields, industries, and skills (or a combination of these):
- Copywriting and marketing – in scientific publishing
- New product development and market research – in book clubs, publishing and membership services
- Marketing – professional book clubs
- Product Management – in consumer membership services
- Marriage and Family Therapy
- Life/Career Coaching
- Women’s Career/Executive Coaching
- Writing, Speaking
- Marketing Consulting for Entrepreneurs
- Executive Recruiting
In remembering who I was as a youngster and young adult, and all the endeavors I loved throughout my life and the roles I’ve assumed, I can now see core, recurring themes about who I am and what I love to do, including:
- Understanding human behavior
- Helping address people’s needs
- Serving as a empathic listener
- Discovering and testing new models and creating new solutions
- Transforming chaos into order
- Identifying compelling messages/benefits and finding well-matched receivers of those products/benefits
- Communicating through writing, speaking and performing
- Using positive thinking and positivity models to be of help
- Connecting people with endeavors they thrive at
- Supporting people through dramatic change
I’ve marveled at how my deepest values, preferences, and interests have remained almost unchanged since I was a child, and I’ve seen this same phenomenon in hundreds of folks I’ve coached.
The key lesson I’ve learned through my career reinventions is this– what you loved as a child and young person you most likely still love. And the key to having a fulfilling professional life is to find the right form in which to honor the essence of who you are and what you love.
As one of my favorite authors, Maria Nemeth, of The Energy of Money says, we’re all happiest when we’re giving form to our Life Intentions in ways that support our lives and help the world.
So what have my numerous careers taught me? Here are my top 10 lessons:
1) Starting over as a beginner is a refreshing, and empowering step that keeps you engaged and enlivened
2) Being a non-expert reconnects you to your humility
3) You need a great deal of help from others to be who you want to be
4) You have core skills and talents that long to be utilized in this lifetime (and you’ll be sick and sad if you deny them)
5) If you’re doing something you love, but the form of it doesn’t fit your life needs and priorities, you’ll suffer
6) You can’t hurry love – you won’t succeed if you’re in a desperate rush to be great at something you love
7) Applying yourself to something new reaffirms your courage, gifts and weaknesses, and what you need to heal in yourself
8) There is absolutely no security or stability except in what you feel inside of yourself
9) There is no perfect career – there’s only the perfectly imperfect journey of applying yourself to something you love and value
10) Embracing a new professional identity changes you because of the new realities you create (which is completely different from dreaming about it from the outside, for all eternity)
I remember being moved after reading this beautiful passage from Viktor Frankl’s powerful book, Man’s Search for Meaning, (a MUST-read book for everyone), and it has stuck with me all these years:
“…The person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest. What will it matter to him if he notices that he is growing old? Has he any reason to envy the young people he sees, or wax nostalgic over his own lost youth? What reasons has he to envy a young person? For the possibilities the young person has, the future which is in store for him? “No thank you,” he will think. “Instead of possibilities, I have realities in my past, not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered. These sufferings are even the things of which I’m most proud, though these are things which cannot inspire envy.”
In the end, it’s about living life to the fullest. If finding new work is something you dream of, all I can say to you is, “Do it.”
What new work do you dream about doing? Do you have the courage to make that dream a reality?