To leave or not to leave…that is the question!
This year, I celebrated my third anniversary leaving Wall Street. I didn’t have a party, throw an event or even eat a cupcake. Instead, I asked myself a very important question, am I still happy with my decision to leave? As anyone who has left a steady income, bonuses and medical benefits knows, the answer better be a resounding, YES! Fortunately for me, it was.
Wait! I am not trying to burn any bridges to Corporate America. I still work with companies and financial institutions and want to keep my relationships in tact, thank you very much. It’s just that I have met so many amazing women at networking events, who tell me they want a change, they want to leave their positions, they want to create a better life for themselves and their families and they want to spend more time with their children. That’s why I founded Leadership Solutions for Women…an expert career counseling, guidance and executive coaching business for women professionals and organizations looking to cultivate the next great female leader.
This letter is for all of you, my fellow career women who have often thought about leaving Corporate America, starting your own business, dreaming of a life of waking up and not having to commute two hours to your office.
Here is some executive guidance and career counseling tips to point you in the right direction.
Know what you are passionate about
I know, I know, you are probably tired of reading this. All the magazine articles I have read, and continue to read, all ask the same question, What are you passionate about? They also ask the question in a myriad of other ways:
- What would you do if you knew you would not fail?
- What makes your heart sing?
- What would you do all day for no pay?
- What gets you to jump out of bed in the morning?
- What do you enjoy doing and lose track of time while doing it?
I’m sure you’ve come across these questions, especially if you have been thinking of leaving your corporate position. There is a good reason for asking this. I believe it is best to leave corporate with a development plan. It’s even better if you leave with a plan and some experience doing this “work” part time. You will be so much better prepared for the unstructured world you so badly want to enter. I know, you are craving a day less structured, without commuting, without meetings and conference calls. But without any structure or a leadership development plan, you are positioned to lose and, dare I say it, waste time and money.
“What if I don’t know what I am passionate about?” You probably do know. The reason why it isn’t coming up as a quick answer for you is because you can’t figure out how that passionate thing you love to do is going to make you any money. When people focus on the how, they get lost in the details, get confused because they don’t see a proven path and before you know it, they have talked themselves out of doing what they love.
This happened to me. Since 2008, I knew that I was passionate about coaching women, helping them get out of their own way so that they could achieve more professionally. But I didn’t know how that was going to make me any money. I talked to a few people about it, but they were the people who were also trying to figure it out. It was at that time that I realized I needed to focus on the “why” be a professional career coach.
Know “why” you want to make a change
These are the questions that need answers:
- What is your purpose for this career change?
- Why do you want to leave corporate?
You have to know your “why.” If you do not know why, when things get tough, you will be asking yourself another kind of why:
- Why did I leave my 6-figure salary?
- What was I thinking?
If you cannot answer these questions with your purpose, you are positioned for failure, ladies. You will run to the first Executive Recruiter’s number you can find and tell her “I’ll take anything. Just get me back in.”
Those challenging days, when you have no clients, no income, your systems aren’t working and you don’t have tech support to call – those are the days you must know your purpose. And, you must very confidently remind yourself the reasons you left Corporate America, started this new venture, as well as all of the good you are going to achieve in your new work.
You have to know your “why” and be able to convincingly and persuasively tell yourself what a wonderful thing this is you are doing.
Learn from others
Jim Rohn said, “We are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with.” If you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then go find them and be in their company. This isn’t the time to create a Book Club because you want to catch up with your neighbors and the latest on the New York Times bestseller list, unless of course your neighbors are successful entrepreneurs and you are reading business books on how to grow your business.
As a professional career coach, my advice is that you have to invest in ourselves in order to advance, learn and grow in this new direction we are taking. After spending so many years in banking, attending several leadership conferences and training events, and even becoming a certified trainer to help others with their leadership and communications skills, I thought to myself:
- What additional training do I need?
- Why should I spend money to learn how to run a business?
I’ve been in business. I know what it takes to run successful departments, projects and initiatives. Yes, of course I had the knowledge to do those things, and of course I would be bringing this skill-set to my new business, but I didn’t have the first clue as to:
- How to set up a mail campaign?
- How to design a website that would attract clients?
- How to build a client list?
Could I have figured it out? Of course I could have, but who has the time and resources to figure it out? I quickly learned that I needed to learn from the people who were a few, if not many, steps ahead of me. They learned from the people ahead of them, and so on. The wheel had already been created long before I jumped into the entrepreneurial pool. There was no good reason for me to try to recreate it, so I learned from others.
Ah, there is so much more to share with you. But I think we will keep it to these fundamental steps for now. I’m confident this is enough to get you thinking, to get you started and hopefully focused on your next career move. If I give you any more now, the overload of information may just scare you off. I want to help and support you with this decision.
It can feel very risky, but it won’t be risky at all if you create development plan, and:
- Know what you are passionate about
- Know “why” you want to make a change
- Learn from others
If you are like me and have made a big change, I would be interested in hearing from you and how you are moving forward. Or, if you are just thinking about making a change, I would like to hear from you too. Rest assured, you don’t have to go it alone.
I welcome the opportunity for you to ask me any questions about a possible career change. Please contact me for a complementary career consultation. Or simply visit my services page for more information.