As someone who left a full-time advertising career behind to become a writer, website publisher, and public speaker — all while raising tiny children, all while being the sole earner in my household — I totally get how scary it is to change courses. It is! It’s scary!
But, there are times that opportunities fall in your lap, passions make themselves known, and big dreams call so loudly, you just can’t ignore them.
So, I’ve put together some of my own favorite real world tips for a few important things to do when you’re embarking on a career change or starting a business. These are all based on my own trial and error (oh, so many errors!) and personal experience.
And I’m so happy to do it on behalf of our fantastic sponsor, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, because they’re all about helping women with the motivation, inspiration, and practical tools they need to reinvent themselves through a new career and life purpose.
Don’t miss a special discount for CMP readers: 25% off the full price of the Integrative Nutrition Program for a limited time! (details below)
I really help these tips give you some guidance and inspiration based in reality. Because, I so know that feeling of reading entrepreneurial stories in which successful women are all like, Live your dreams! You can do it just like I did! Make the leap! Don’t let yourself down! And then…I find out she’s coming off a longtime six-figure career or she’s married to some hedge fund guy or her maiden name is Rockefeller.
Nope. Most of us do not have those options.
Which is why none my tips for what to do to prepare for a career change include, Just jump and the net will appear! Because, that is not always true.
What is always true: A little preparation goes a long way.
1. Talk to your family.
Before you make a single career move, know how important it is to have strong support from those closest to you — your partner or spouse, your own parents, your children.
The emotional support is invaluable; and if you know they’re willing to support your pursuit of your dreams emotionally, they’re probably willing (and hopefully prepared) to make their own sacrifices or adjust their own schedules or needs to help you achieve success.
Plus, communication is always an essential aspect in any relationship. Bring your loved ones in early, let them be a part of the process, and your wins will be everyone’s win.
2. Talk to your village.
This one is for every woman, but especially you mamas out there: I am unwavering in my belief that we all need a village, whatever our work situation.
However, when you embark on a career that’s more entrepreneurial, that’s when you really are going to lean on that village. So include them in the conversations too. Don’t just assume that the other school parents will pitch in with carpool duty, that your sitter can switch days, or that your neighbors will be willing to entertain the kids after school.
I have been so incredibly fortunate to have so many people in my life, from my own parents to the parents of my children’s friends, who have covered for me in a pinch when I had a meeting that ran long, or I had to race out to a last-minute 7AM morning show appearance before school. (All while I’m thinking, Wait, how is this my life again?)
And of course, always be happy to reciprocate and repay the favor! Having a village can’t just work for one villager, right?
3. Take a good, honest look at your finances.
There are more financial implications to a career change than you might originally think, and some work in your favor.
When I started working from home and looked at my budget, I knew I wouldn’t need such high commuting (and uh, lunch) expenses. But what I totally forgot — I didn’t need as comprehensive a work wardrobe either. My mindset was still, Ooh, that’s a great meeting outfit I can wear every week to see my clients! I’m buying it!
Even though I no longer had weekly client meetings at the time.
This Forbes article by Emilie Aries offers some great tips about what else to consider financially when it comes to changing careers. I especially value the advice to “see how long you can float” — i.e., really examine your savings and figure out your “monthly nut” to see how long you can cover your expenses should your next paycheck not come in for a while.
4. Be sure your career change is a viable one.
While we all want to pursue our dreams, I can tell you as someone who evaluates new products and new business ideas every day for this website, that passion dreams don’t always make for the most viable career opportunities. So definitely make sure there’s a market for you, before you make a wholesale career change.
I looked at the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to see the fastest growing jobs in America, and it’s pretty encouraging. Turns out nearly 1/3 of the jobs are in the fields of medicine, health, and wellness, and not all of them require advanced degrees at all.
So if you’re considering a job as a health and wellness coach, just saying — this is a very good time. And Institute for Integrative Nutrition states that their grads are charging $100/hour or more for their services.
About our sponsor
We don’t all have the time (hi, motherhood), money, or even access to lengthy degree programs, which is where The Institute for Integrative Nutrition comes in.
If you have a passion for health, wellness, nutrition, and helping others to become their best selves, they can help you reinvent yourself with a new career as a health coach.
Their graduates find work in doctor’s offices, wellness centers, gyms, spas, yoga studios, schools, private practices, natural food stores, and more. They also go on to write books, create products, open restaurants, teach, and start their own businesses.
Basically, career opportunity galore.
Study absolutely anywhere, any time (thanks, internet!), with access to full lessons, assignments, quizzes, and expert lectures. Plus, you’ll learn from impressive guest teachers including Marion Nestle, Barry Sears, Kate Northrup, and even Deepak Chopra and Arianna Huffington in the current curriculum.
Bonus: If you do want that degree? The Institute for Integrative Nutrition can earn you up to 40 college credits toward a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree.
Huge discount for CMP readers: Try one of the nutrition classes today for free
AND get 25% off the full price of the Integrative Nutrition Program when you sign up now.
For details, email influencers@IntegrativeNutrition.com. Offer expires May 31.
5. Create an Action Plan.
The more concrete you can be about your goals and ambitions, and the steps it will take to achieve them, the better. I love this article from The Balance detailing 6 steps to create an action plan, from setting goals to following through.
Their SMART goals system is especially, well, smart, showing you how to ensure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and fall on a set timeline.
6. Network. Start yesterday!
In my recent post about 10 terrific resources for women ready for a career change or entrepreneurship, I shared a whole bunch of organizations and online communities that can allow you to network.
Of course the easiest one of all: LinkedIn. So get that profile up to date, stat! You may be surprised to see how many people you know from “past lives” who can help you along your new journey.
And if you are taking courses through an educational program like The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, be sure to take advantage of their in-person conferences or meet-ups and online communities. This way, you can really dig in and find a supportive group who have goals and passions that mirror your own.
7. Grab that URL, email address, and social media handle.
If you think your new business is going to need a spiffy new website, it costs very little to register a domain. Do it, and nab those social media handles and email addresses while you’re at it. Those are free.
Also, consider grabbing a website with your own name and career path as the domain, like AmandaSmithHealthCoach.com.
If all your site has on it is your contact info and a link to your LinkedIn bio, hey, that’s a great start right there.
Thanks so much to our sponsor, The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, for helping so many women to reinvent themselves with a career they really love.
Be sure to sign up to try a sample nutrition class today (it’s free!) AND get 25% off the full price of the Integrative Nutrition Program when you sign up now. For details, just email influencers@IntegrativeNutrition.com. Offer expires May 31.
Top Photo: Thought Catalog for Unsplash