One of my favorite career bloggers is Valerie Young, who covers careers outside of the typical 9-5 and typically features in her newsletter an example of someone who took a unique interest and turned it into a money-maker. Five years ago, Young linked to a guest blog she wrote about earning money abroad, which turned me onto another resource, International Living, focused exclusively on people expatriating and remaking their lives abroad – something that had always interested me but seemed too “out there” for me.
Fast forward a few years later, after reading hundreds of expat stories, and I too have an international business and (at least part-time) live abroad. What seemed far-out-there at first became familiar after seeing so many successful examples of people doing what I wanted to do. The familiarity made an impossible career change possible.
Surround yourself with success stories of people that made the change you want to make
Finding examples of other people doing what you want to do is an easy and effective way to build momentum for you to do the same thing. Career change is particularly daunting because it’s so disruptive. You may already have spent years in your current career. You might still have student debt for a degree or coursework in your original field. You might also have existing family or lifestyle commitments that are not easy to untangle.
The disruption of career change makes it easier to put it off for the “right” time. You get a notion of something you would rather be doing, but you talk yourself out of it, much like the example I shared in an earlier post of George Costanza in Seinfeld, getting talked out of all of the initial ideas he brainstormed about his next career move.
However, if you don’t get started, you’ll never make a change. Finding success stories is something you can do to get started that is not disruptive to your current life and incredibly inspirational. Surrounding yourself with positive examples is an easy and effective way to build momentum for a big career change. Here are five resources to help you find those success stories:
1 – Magazines and trade publications
International Living was the perfect publication for me because of my interest in living internationally. There will almost certainly be a publication that focuses on your area of interest, and many publications feature experts active in that area. If you are pursuing a niche interest where you might need to create a job for yourself (either within a company or by starting your own company), consider focusing on publications that cover small business and entrepreneurship. Inc, Entrepreneur, and Fast Company are some examples.
2 – Blogs
Valerie Young is just one career blogger who covers alternative careers. Elaine Pofeldt also frequently covers people making a living from their passion – in fact, she wrote an entire book on stories of single-person businesses that generate over a million dollars per year. I cover careers in general but have featured career changes numerous times, such as The Donut King who changed careers multiple times even past age 60, a Peace Corps volunteer turned hospitality entrepreneur, and a cop turned cruise travel agent.
3 – Books
With self-publishing on the rise, there is no shortage of books available. You can easily find memoirs of people making a big change. Three new books that can inspire your next change:
· Running With My Head Down by Frank Fiume II takes you along Fiume’s career change from selling medical equipment to building i9, the largest youth sports league franchise. His book takes you on the ups and downs from growing up in a single-parent household to his struggles to find a job he loved to building i9.
· Breathe In/ Cash Out by Madeleine Henry is a career change journey from investment banking analyst to yoga teacher told in a funny fictional story. It opens with a hilarious account of how the protagonist accidentally sleeps with her boss (it makes sense when you read it) and ends with her coming to grips with the fact that her parent’s dreams are not her own, hence the courage to leaving banking for yoga.
· The Disruption Mindset by Charlene Li is about business for business leaders, so this is not a book about disruption for the individual. That said, the insights Li highlights to help business leaders navigate big changes are also relevant to individual career change. I particularly liked how she broke down the four types of disruptive leadership styles, so you can see that there is a range of temperaments to navigate change.
4 – Your existing network
Sometimes you don’t need to look too far to find success stories, as there may be some in your own network. A former colleague of mine navigated his career change from biology lab researcher to financial services strategy consultant by finding alums from his program who now worked outside the lab. With help from his alma mater alumni database, he was able to land short informational calls, hear the success stories firsthand and get tips on how he might make a similar leap.
5 — Conferences
If you don’t want to track down success stories person-by-person, consider attending a conference where a critical mass of these success stories might congregate. The iRelaunch conference focuses on professionals from a variety of industries who are coming back to the workforce after time away. I volunteered for one of the conferences, and there was one success story after another of professionals successfully coming back. iSPA hosts an annual media event specific to the spa, resort and hospitality industry, so the attendees were all success stories of people active in that field. There is a conference for your target interest, where you will meet people who are doing what you want to do.
You can start your career change today
If you know you want a career change, but the thought of doing it seems too daunting, surround yourself with success stories to make the change seem more familiar and therefore more accessible to you. You’ll be inspired by seeing others doing what you want to do. You’ll get ideas that you can implement yourself. Surrounding yourself with success stories is an easy and effective way to start your career change today.