September 2009


I spent the last couple of hours speaking with several VocationVacation and Brian Kurth + Company clients.  The energy with all three clients was running high….positivity was abound….and I could feel my adrenaline rushing with theirs.  All three were so excited about their progress in finding or creating a great career and balance it all with life including family, friends, hobbies, etc.  Such a great start to a Friday.

And then I asked the question to all three clients, “What will you do if/when you get to the point that you are about to collapse out of exhaustion as you approach the finish line to finding or creating your ideal career and life/work balance?”

Well, wasn’t I just Mr. Debby Downer, huh?

Not at all.  The sense of exhaustion and questioning, “Is this career transition REALLY going to happen?” is a natural step in the process for many (not all) people.  This morning’s clients are like marathon runners at mile post #21.  They’re going strong.  But three miles later, by mile post #24, they might start questioning things a bit as they can SEE the end of the marathon ahead but are starting to wonder if they’ll truly make it to mile post #26 as their lungs and legs are feeling the pain and are simply tired.  The answer is, “yes, they will make it”.  But they need to keep several things in mind.

Here are my 3 Top Tips to Making It To The Career Search Finish Line if you hit a bit of burn-out:

1.  Don’t look so far ahead.  Stop looking at the finish line.  Instead, just look at what’s immediately in front of you versus what’s ahead months or years ahead.  I’m not saying that planning ahead isn’t important.  It is.  But sometimes you simply need to recognize where you are right now and acknowledge your successful progression from where you came from versus looking at what’s still ahead.

My past client, Sandy Huddle, recently sent me an email update and she NAILED exactly what I’m talking about.  She is making a career transition from working in the insurance industry for the past 23 years to becoming a Video/TV/Film Producer after having gone back to school several years ago.  She recently felt the pain of being so close to the finish line with college and looking forward to her new career — when she hit a bit of a wall.  Her comments below are full of sage advice and inspiration:

“I started this whole journey in October of 2006 – it’s been a long, exhausting, and ABSOLUTELY incredible experience. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned, experienced, and grown…I’ll be honest, it hasn’t always been easy or without some challenges.  The challenges are mostly internal where I have to remember to be patient with myself and provide some positive self talk.  My present mantra, courtesy of actress Janet McTeer, is “Someone has to succeed. There’s no reason why it can’t be me.”  I’m still taking it one day at a time, staying very much in the present and perhaps taking a peak at tomorrow. I try not to set my sights too far in the future or ponder on how many classes I have to go.”

2.  It’s the journey, stupid (remember Bill Clinton’s sign in his office, “It’s the economy, stupid”?).  Keep in mind that the root in the word, transition, is “transit”.  Yes, a career transition IS a journey, folks.  Enjoy the path as best you can.  Sandy Huddle also added some sage advice to fellow transitioners when she said in her email to me:

“…It’s the journey not the arrival that matters.  I am so grateful for having walked through my fear and taking that first step on a new journey that has unlocked my creativity and allowed me to pursue my dream.”

We ALL need to be reminded of the journey versus the destination from time to time.

3.  Blind faith can buy you time.  OK, you got me: Blind faith does not buy much else other than time.  True enough.  But time is your friend when in a career transition.  Career change often doesn’t happen overnight.  It truly is much more of a marathon than a sprint.  Simply believing that you will SOMEHOW cross the finish line and find or create your perfect career will get you far.  You might not know exactly how it will occur or look.  Or when.  And the ideal career and life/work balance might be a bit nuanced from the point that you started your marathon.  It’s OK.  Simply be open to the possibilities.  Perhaps it’s the dream job with the dream company — but in a different city in which you end up loving to live.  Or perhaps you want to become a chocolatier but along your marathon you realized that you also want to incorporate a coffee house into your business plan.  It’s all good.  Be open to the tweaks that will come your way.  Be open to blind faith and you’ll be surprised what will land in your lap.

Those are my three top tips….but you may have more suggestions….please give your thoughts!

Keeping the dreams alive,

Brian

Please excuse some shameless self-promotion but here’s what my publicist has to say….
Brian Kurth is an innovative career transition expert, TV contributor, entrepreneur, author and a sought-after speaker.  Brian has provided career mentorship, transition and reinvention (MTR) advice on CNBC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, NBC’s TODAY Show and National Public Radio (NPR), and has been featured in articles in O, The Oprah Magazine; The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Fortune, Men’s Journal, and Black Enterprise Magazine, just to name a few.  Brian founded VocationVacations in 2004 and Brian Kurth + Company in 2008.  He is the author of “Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding And Creating The Work You Love” – Hachette, 2008.

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I had an amazing time speaking to the Big Ten alumni crowd at Northwestern University in Chicago (sold-out!  Thanks, everyone, for coming…and thanks to NAA and WAA for organizing).  My topic was the 8 Steps To A Successful Career Transition — and Work/Life balance since work and life are not mutually exclusive.

What strikes me most when speaking to university alumni association groups across the US, is that the concept of SIMPLY being HAPPY and attaining a work/life balance is a universal interest.  Last night’s group was comprised of GenY, GenX and BabyBoomer alumni.  It was 50/50 Men/Women.  Being fulfilled in one’s career and being happy are goals that reach across every race.

Happy.  Yes, happiness.  When was the last time you answered in an affirmative that you were HAPPY in your work?  Believe it or not, a 2006 Harris Poll’s result indicated that a full 84% of people are NOT happy in what they do.  Now, I ask “What the ____?” over that.  How can SO many Americans be unhappy in what they do.  Life is so short.  Don’t they get it?  Are you one of them?  If so, time to pursue some happiness.

Well, as it turns out, it’s the “F” word (fear) that keeps people from pursuing happiness.  We talked a lot about fear last night.  People shared their fears of financial insecurity, loss of identity (ie, “I’ve been an attorney for 20 years.  It’s all I know.”), fear of failure and fear of what family and friends are going to think of a prospective career change.  I recommend Dr. Susan Jeffers book, “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway” to anyone who is facing fear.

I’m happy to report that I think several hundred people are starting today with a renewed sense of change and optimism in their pursuit of happiness.  It CAN happen.  I’ve worked with thousands of people over the past six years.  I know first hand.  I’ve seen the banker become a happy dog trainer.  I’ve seen the music executive become a happy hotel manager.  I’ve seen a computer sales exec become a happy yoga instructor.  And the list goes on and on.

But the key to pursuing happiness doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  It’s all about finding a mentor in your chosen field(s) to help you make the transition.  It’s a must.  If there’s ONE thing that I wanted everyone to learn from last night’s discussion is that MENTORSHIP, MENTORSHIP AND MENTORSHIP is the key to pursuing and finding career happiness.  See steps #4 and #5 in the 8 Steps:

http://www.briankurth.com/Career_Change_in_8_Steps.html

With that being said, please join the Big Ten alums in their pursuit of happiness — on the job and in life.

Are you ready?  When are your going to start?  What would hold you back?