Career Transitioning: 10 Things I Wish I’d Known Earlier (Part 2)

This is Part II of my previous article about what I have learned, having experienced three career transitions and helped numerous professionals play a successful second act of life. I hope you enjoy the read. 

6. The only approval you need is yours

Beautifully expressed by Amanda Gorman, the need for approval is one of the most common hurdles that may stop you in your momentum. The minute you share bold, ambitious dreams for yourself, you will see a number of red flags raised around you. Well-intentioned, loving people in your life will instantly reject the idea that you may get lost in ambitious and risky projects. They want you safe, and the status quo is largely safer than… anything else. Red flags will come from all directions. Colleagues, friends, and family members may sense an unavowable pang of jealousy at your renewed aliveness. Don’t take it personally, don’t be impressed. 

7. Big dreams don’t make you a dreamer

The biggest red flag, though, is in yourself. It is cultural. People with dreams are dreamers. Dreamers are no achievers. This idea was drilled in your subconscious at an early stage, and you will find it, sure enough, on your way to a new career. Don’t buy the simplification. Rather engage in honest exploration: What is really important to you? What does your future, the one you crave, look like, taste like? What is your own definition of success, from now on? Does it encompass every aspect of your life? Does it bring value to you and the people around you? What would be the markers of your future success? The more aware you are of what you really want and why, the most enticing your vision is, the better. As the genius dream architect Walt Disney said: “If you can dream it, you can do it”.

8. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity

How many times this week did you hear yourself say “She is so lucky, to get this job” or, about yourself “I was lucky to meet this person”. By default, we tend to attribute good things happening unexpectedly to luck, whatever this word means. Abundant scientific literature shows that lucky people have their own way to attract luck, in doing two things: They put all the chances on their side, and they open their senses 360° to allow happy coincidence to happen. If you want to share a fantastic business idea with a very searched after person, you may want to make sure this idea has value for the person, refine and rehearse your pitch until it is irresistible, get all the intel you can about where this person may be hanging out, and keep in mind that if your idea is truly great, it will find its way to the real world. With or without this person. 

9. It is so cool to go back to school

A current cause of stress for career transitioners is the necessity to get extra training. Will you be able to learn as fast as you used to? Is your brain capable of memorizing new knowledge? How awkward will it feel to sit on a school bench at your age? What will your ex-colleagues think? How will you cope with homework, supervision, and exams?  Most likely, all of these fears will materialize. Yes, you will feel intellectually rusted. Yes, you will have to deploy your best efforts to catch up. Yes, it will feel awkward sometimes. Yes, some well-intentioned peer will ask what the hell do you expect, getting back to school at your age. And yes, homework sucks. But the reward is invaluable. Your decision to be a student again is a gift you offer to yourself and an investment in your future. The process is fun too. Learning has its own way to pump up your spirit and upgrade your self-image. 

10. You will never look back

Maybe the most important thing I which I had known is that there is no way back. More accurately, there is no desire to go back to square one. You are a creature of movement, like all living creatures in this world. The journey towards a fulfilling second act of life is bumpy and interesting. We talked about the inner reward of learning, and learning comes in many different ways. Questioning the status quo makes you more alive. Taking bold moves towards work and life that you love triggers renewed energy. And keep in mind that you might well become a source of inspiration for other people’s own journey into transition.

If you missed part 1 of this article, you can read it here.

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