In this post, I welcome former client Karen Randolph for a conversation about her recent career change. We both hope her experience and advice help you to take that risk for the kind of life you want!
ADC: Karen, you’ve taken a big leap in your work life to support the freedom you want in your life as a whole. Before we talk about the leap, will you share about your previous career and what prompted you to leave?
KR: I was working for a financial services company that specializes in life insurance. The company was quite stable and had good pay and benefits, so I ended up staying for 15 years. However, during the last few years, I was absolutely bored and the company started a reorganization which added a layer of chaos to my daily work life. At that same time, my health began to deteriorate, and I knew I needed to leave in order to gain my health and vitality back. But I also knew that I did not want to find another job where I would end up in a similar position – working in an industry that doesn’t match my values or interests. So, I was a bit stuck and exhausted.
ADC: That’s such a difficult place to be in, physically, mentally and emotionally. How did you decide to take the leap and quit your job?
KR: It wasn’t one “final straw” moment, rather it was an accumulation over a few years of wanting something different in my life matched with serious changes in my work life and health. I realized that it was now or never, and quite frankly, the decline in my health scared me out of my safety net.
ADC: So there was the initial risk – quitting – and then the next part of the transition comes. I know it took some time to detox and reorient from the past. How long do you recommend people take if they can? What’s helpful to do in that time? What’s not helpful?
KR: You are absolutely correct in that I needed to detox and refresh myself physically and mentally before I could talk to anyone about hiring me. I initially thought I would take one month but ended up taking three months before I started working with you. I knew I needed to just “be” with no schedules, no stressful commute, and no looking at my resume. I suggest everyone allow themselves this freedom if they can financially. Since I knew I wanted to quit for a while, I structured my finances months in advance so that I could take some time off. The best experiences during that time was spending time with friends – coffee isn’t too expensive. I made sure I was reaching out to friends and former co-workers at least twice per week. I also think there is great healing in doing nothing. Some days, I would just take a nice long drive or watch old movies. What I didn’t do was beat myself up with “I should be looking for a job now” as I wanted to regain my energy and excitement for the next phase of my career journey. Stay away from negative self-talk; it’s only counterproductive. Allow yourself to just be.
ADC: When we were working together, there was a point when you turned the corner, fully committing to creating the work life you want. What happened?
KR: I love the quote, “Pain pushes, vision pulls.” I definitely had the pain part down but did not quite know what the vision was. Thank goodness my body has a wisdom that counteracts my brain’s “shoulds.” I would go home after our session to begin tweaking my resume and LinkedIn profile; however, my hands would not let me touch my keyboard! I’ve never experienced anything like that before, and this happened over three or four consecutive weeks. I finally took a step back and asked myself what I truly wanted, and the answer was far from what I expected. It was only when I was willing to stop mindlessly forging ahead with what I “should” be doing and begin listening to that still, quiet internal voice we all have that I was able to come to my new path. I always hated when people would say, “You have the answers within yourself,” but guess what? They are right. I just needed to quiet myself down and not fear the answer.
ADC: The transition continues. How are things now?
KR: I can honestly say that I am awake for the first time in years! Every day is a day to learn, grow, and test myself. I came up with a few mini mantras as I call them, that have kept me pushing ahead: “Why not me?” “I’ll make it work.” I find myself repeating these on a daily basis. I also remind myself daily what my “Why” is – independence and control over my schedule so that I can spend more time on community involvement and pursuing other experiences that I love. It isn’t easy to transition from 30 years in corporate life to an entrepreneurial pursuit, and I question myself everyday about the wisdom of ditching a pay check at this stage of my life, but I haven’t felt this positive about my life in years. Tapping into the positive emotions that have surfaced from this huge transition is what keeps me true to my new path, as well as understanding that this is an ongoing process.
ADC: What advice do you have for people who want to take a risk like you did?
- Plan your finances – have enough savings to pay bills and take a break
- Listen to your body
- You know what it is that you want to do – center yourself, be quiet with yourself to hear it
- “Why not me?”
- Remind yourself why you’re doing it; it is your “Why” that will keep you motivated
- Write it down – journaling will help ease your mind and remind you of what you have to be grateful for
- Commit to the process, and know it’s a process
- Find a coach to help you – accountability is important and it’s hard to do big changes alone
ADC: Any final words?
KR: Reaching out to you is the best choice I made. I really don’t know how I could have gone through such a huge change without a coach there to help me. You created a safe place that allowed me to question myself and to finally land on the path I’ve chosen to follow. Quitting my job and consciously creating my life the way that I want it instead of following a path of “shoulds” is the best gift I’ve ever given to myself. I’m excited about life again. It’s definitely worth it!