Find the Courage to Leap To a Great New Career  

Written By Deborah Brown-Volkman

It takes courage to pursue a career you’re passionate about when you’re already immersed in one you dislike.

When I started my first marketing job in Manhattan in the early 1980s, I loved the pace, big-city excitement and the high salary I was earning. I excelled at my job. Wall Street was booming. As my career progressed, I ran sales and marketing programs for large and small companies. But gradually I began to feel as though I was turning into a corporate emblem.

I’d chosen a career in sales and marketing because I was a “people person,” fascinated by how people behave and what motivates them. Yet I found myself in a system where making decisions took so long that an eternity looked short. Day after day I took my assigned place, to work according to rules created by others for endless hours that belonged to others, to achieve the goals of others. I was slowly becoming invisible.

As a symptom of my discontent, I began job hopping. Friends and colleagues would ask, “What’s wrong with you?” I asked myself: “Why can’t you be happy?” and “Why can’t you stay in one job for an extended period of time?” I’d start each job with good intentions, telling myself, “This is it. I’m staying here forever.” But a month or two later, I would feel unhappy again. I longed for a better career but had no goal and therefore no plan to implement a change.

When I finally decided I’d had enough, I signed up for a class to learn a new profession, and I switched careers. Suddenly my next professional move seemed clear to me, and I made it happen. Now I love what I do and can’t imagine doing anything else.

You can have a career with purpose and passion, too. If you already have the know-how and skills, you may need only the encouragement to follow through on your dreams. Here are three ways to push yourself toward securing a more meaningful career:

  • Dream again.

Remember when you were young and knew what you wanted to be when you grew up? Are you doing this now as an adult? If not, why? Why didn’t you go after what you wanted? What got in the way?

Many professionals who are unhappy in their careers say they can’t envision their dream jobs. But when they’re pushed to write their dreams on paper, they remember their childhood fantasies.

  • Be creative.

A businesswoman I know with a schedule that moves at the speed of light speaks regularly with clients who have built multimillion-dollar empires. She loves what she does, but she says if she doesn’t find time to be creative, the day has gone to waste. Being creative makes us happy and fuels our soul. Creativity allows us to express our talents and skills to their fullest capability. It takes us away from our problems and makes room for new ideas and perspectives.

To unleash your own creativity, begin paying attention to the inner voice that urges you to paint, write, fix your car or engage in another activity that gives you pleasure. These are clues to where you belong in your career.

  • Keep moving no matter what.

Countless professionals on the brink of success fail only because they stopped trying too soon. Life can be difficult. We sometimes forget this when the going gets tough.

For example, many executives use the sour economy as an excuse for not moving forward. They’ve decided that their career goals are too hard to reach, and so they wait for the marketplace to improve on its own. This is the worst decision a professional can make.

Those who are successful in their careers don’t give up. They’re no different from you or me. The distinction is that they keep moving no matter what. They have good and bad days, but they don’t stop trying.

Move forward even if you don’t feel like it. Do one thing every day regardless of whether you think it will make a difference. Waiting kills your momentum and spirit. Progress will make your career goals a reality.

— Ms. Brown-Volkman is president of Surpass Your Dreams Inc., a career and mentor coaching company, and author of “Coach Yourself To A New Career: A Book To Discover Your Ultimate Profession.”

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