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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?

Job search is hard.  And it can get expensive.  Times are tough enough right now so the last thing you should do is incur debt, or more debt, in your job search.

So, here are my 5 Tips To Keep Your Job Search On A Budget:

1.  Join a networking organization

Join a networking organization (or two, if your budget allows) that does not cost an arm and a leg.  Now is NOT the time to join that expensive business or athletic club in the spirit of networking.  No.  Pace yourself.  Instead, this is the time that you should join or renew membership with your university alumni association.  And/or, it’s the time to join a trade organization such as PRSA, AMA or ITAA.  Join one organization.  Two if you can afford it.  Prioritize your purchase (it IS a purchase so think of it in those terms!) based on which organization will give you the most bang for your buck.  How many members does the group have?  How often do they meet face-to-face?  How close to your home (include travel, gas, parking costs into your equation)?  What’s their online presence and level of activity?  You want to join an active organization – both “offline” face-to-face and online via the Internet.

2.  Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50

Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50 (yes, their prices have gone up…but I still feel it’s worth it).  In doing so, you will be able to directly contact ten people you have targeted in your desired field regarding networking, meeting for an informational coffee and/or establishing a mentorship relationship with them.  These are people you’ve found via researching on LinkedIn by company name, city or vocation type…but to whom you have no direct linkage.  The $50 gives you that direct connection to them.  You know me, I stress the value of mentorship every chance I get and this is an ample time to stress MTR: Mentorship > Transition > Reinvention!  That extra $50 may change your life by linking you with exactly the right person who may help you network and may mentor you – all the way to the point you land your dream job.  MTR is the crux to the proven 8-Step Process for a Successful Career Transition I use day-in and day-out with my clients.

3.  Go to the library.

Sorry, Barnes & Noble, Borders and my beloved Powell’s here in Portland and Strand Books in NYC (let alone, my own publisher).  But you’ll be back shopping there when you’ve landed the job and have more money!  For now, check out the latest career search and business-related books from your local library.  They’ll be happy to see you and you’ll be happy to have just saved some money.  That being said, IF you find a book or two of great value after checking them out at the library, then go to the bookstore and buy them so you have them for long-term reference and you can mark it up all you want.

4.  Write Your Personal Biography

In addition to updating your resume, write a biography of where you’ve been, where you are today and most importantly where you want to go.  This is YOUR brand you’re creating.  It tells a story that a resume simply cannot.  Then have a graphics person create a nicely formatted one-page PDF for you including the content you’ve written.  The formatted PDF should not cost more than $50.  For more on how this fits into the mix of your career search, checking out Step #6, Branding, in the 8-Step Process.

5.  Negotiate Your Terms.

Get a career coach or consultant.  BUT….negotiate with them.  They may not negotiate on their price, but they will (should) work with you on establishing a payment plan.  To be honest, I find it frustrating to hear that some of my career-consulting colleagues insist upon a client signing a one-year agreement and/or a minimum of ten or twelve sessions.  That’s overkill.  A lot can be accomplished in as little as five sessions, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Once you’ve found the right consultant or coach, ask them to establish a payment plan.  For example, I offer my clients the ability to split their payments in two.  They also can either pay by check or by debit card (Avoid using your credit card unless you know you can pay it off in the next payment cycle).

One last point:

Talk to an accountant and save your receipts for everything mentioned in all five tips.  Most, if not all, should be tax deductible.

Now, get out there and find that job….AND STAY ON BUDGET!

Cheers,

Brian

Career Consultations:  www.briankurth.com

Career Mentorship Programs:  www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-by-Step Process To Finding And Creating The Work You Love – Hachette, 2008

I was on a flight back to Portland from NYC last week and reading the NY Times and found two articles that really intrigued me.

The first was about a former NFL football player, Keith Miller, turned opera singer:

For an Ex-Fullback, Big Plays in a New Game

The second was about, Michelle Nihei, a former neuroscience researcher at Johns Hopkins who became a horse trainer (unfortunately, the article isn’t on the Times’ website).

At first you might think, “Oh, these folks had natural talents that made such huge career shifts possible.”  Not completely true when you read both of the brief articles.

Instead, in addition to their inherent strengths, Keith and Michelle also utilized three key characteristics for their successful career changes:

1.  Allow Your Passions to Lead the Path – Despite what some of their friends, family and colleagues may have said to them upon their decision to forge ahead with their drastic career changes, they followed their natural passions.  They thought with their HEARTS and GUTS versus just their brains.

2.  You Cannot Do It Alone – Keith and Michelle reached out to mentors to learn how to make the transition.  They did not make their decisions or take their first steps in a vacuum.  Instead, they reached out to experts in the field to better understand if and how they could make the switch.

3.  Stay Positive – Despite the obstacles and naysayers, Michelle and Keith were driven by their dreams — some days with blind faith.  They battled their own “chatterboxes” (the negative voice in one’s head according to author and psychologist, Susan Jeffers:  “Feel The Fear….and Do It Anyway“) pounding out the “Are you serious???” thoughts in their minds.  But they stuck to it.  Part of it is simply SHOVING negative thoughts out of one’s mind in order to stay true to the positive, passionate path.

I love Michelle and Keith’s stories.  I hope you do too.  We can all learn from their examples.

What is YOUR unfilled dream that is being held back by YOU and your chatterbox?  Time to take Michelle’s and Keith’s lead….

Cheers!
Brian 

THE 8-Steps To A Successful Career Transitionwww.briankurth.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Jobwww.vocationvacations.com

THE DIY Book On Creating Your Own Career Mentorship In Your Career Transition

Laid off? Burned out in your job? Then come to a Career Change Coffee Klatch if you’re a New Yorker or visiting the Big Apple this weekend!

I thought it’d be fun to do something a bit non-traditional and gather for a very casual “coffee klatch” in Central Park at 10am this Saturday, July 25.

If you are in a career transition and looking to reinvent yourself, then this will be a great, casual way to take the first step. I’ll chat a bit about the 8 Steps of a Successful Career Transition, the crux of which is based on creating a career mentorship for yourself and creating a professional brand

When:
Sat, July 25 @ 10am

Where:
At the “Imagine” ground sign at Strawberry Fields in Central Park:
http://www.centralpark.com/pages/attractions/strawberry-fields.html

Bring:
Yourself
Pen, Notepad or Journal
Coffee
Blanket to sit on

If there’s rain in the prediction, we’ll figure out a Plan B (any suggestions of a large enough coffee house as a back-up?)

Let me know if you can make it….and spread the word to friends and family members in NYC or may be visiting NYC who you think might like to have a fun career transition coffee klatch.

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

I’ve been chatting with my career consulting clients who are going through a tough time during this recession.  I invite them to take a deep breath and say the following sentence outloud:  Survival is the new definition of success!

I believe these words. 

Whether you’re a corporate person who’s been laid off or an entrepreneur barely holding onto your business during these tough times, this one little sentence can make a world of difference each and every day.  Appreciate every day’s small successes.  The small successses add up over time. 

Once the recovery occurs (and it WILL happen), you will be able to look back with pride that you SURVIVED the worst recession since the Great Depression.  That alone is success.  Be proud.  You’re getting there.  One step and day at a time.

Again, say it outload:  SURVIVAL IS THE NEW DEFINITION OF SUCCESS!

Go Get ‘Em,

Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

I’ve been chatting with a lot of HR directors over the past few months.  They’re gearing up for the economic recovery.  Yes, you read that right.  They’re gearing up for the economic recovery!  For real.

JUST last night on the airport shuttle to my hotel, I was chatting with three HR managers who work for a large corporation and the manager who heads up the recruiting side of things said that she has had an open position every single day through this recession AND she’s gearing up to hire more people.  But it’s not just new hires that I’m finding exciting.

Additionally, companies are looking to expand their in-house mentorship programs.  And what I’m most excited about is the incredible interest in not only setting up a standard mentorship program where a more senior manager mentors a junior manager, etc.  but what I’m most excited about is the interest from HR managers in “shaking things up” with their employees and provide them short-term, small-group mentorship experiences OUT of the office.  What I call Mentorship 3.0.

The Brian Kurth + Company team is ready to assist.  We have mentors in nearly 100 vocations who offer the HR managers’ in-house clients the opportunity to gain key team-building, leadership, project management and communications.  The small corporate teams (4-10) getting the mentorship will then be able to use the 80/20 rule back at the office.  In other words, 80% of the mentorship experience that the Chocolatier (or Animation Producer, Dog Daycare Owner, Wine Maker, and the list goes on) mentor provides regarding business leadership, projection management, communications, etc. can be applied to an IT department at a healthcare provider or to the marketing team at an ad agency, and so on, and so on.

So, I’m here at the SHRM (Society of HR Management) conference in New Orleans.  And I’m really excited to chat a lot about Mentorship 3.0.  Let the paradigm shift begin!

Are you here too?  Let’s meet up!  Email me at brian@briankurth.com

Cheers,
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step By Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love (Hachette, 2008)

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