As a creative entrepreneur and speaker, I consult on creativity, change, and entrepreneurial strategy. Taking business risks isn’t just for entrepreneurs. Successful, accomplished individuals also ponder, dream, vacillate, struggle and dare to take the plunge, making significant career shifts—from familiar, lucrative senior positions to extremely different careers. The beginning of a new year is often a catalyst for change, so what better time to talk about it than now?
Consider the litigator with a thriving 17-year practice who decides to shift from courtrooms to living rooms, fulfilling his passion for interior design. He’s excitedly back in school earning a new degree. As the song says, he’ll soon “start at the very beginning” in an entirely new field.
Other senior executives and managers don’t have the luxury of electing to make career shifts. Companies merge, morph and migrate; formerly stable positions and career tracks can quickly evaporate, forcing successful contributors to cast wider nets for employment. Such necessity lands many top performers in strange, new waters, swimming in self-doubt.
These extremes frame endless variations in between. Whether eager or pushed to make major changes, confidence and security often disappear, replaced by fear and anxiety—hardly ideal for marching into new, unfamiliar territory.
To inspire business executives, entrepreneurs, and recent graduates jumpstart creativity and tackle new risks, I wrote 99 Creative WOWs: Words of Wisdom for Business. Brimming with 99 powerful life and business lessons, these WOWs resonate when making shifts from highly successful careers to different, new ones.
As you become your own Agent for (career) Change, tuck these WOWs on your visor, phone case, or shower door. Boost your confidence and discover next adventures.
When change happens TO you, owning the loss—without getting stuck there—can help you move forward. Recognize that the career you had is now over in order to begin to respect and leverage your strengths. Have patience with yourself; this transition’s not easy.
In new career territory, remember what you know well. Draw upon your own past wisdom. Many talents are universal. Focus on the person sitting across from you to leave every interaction that much wiser.
When negotiating, be thorough, prepared and wise so everyone wins. Don’t apologize for transitioning; emphasize the unique strengths your experiences bring to this new table. It’s important to all parties that negotiations succeed.
Balance strengths with your willingness to learn new skills. Reassure others that you know what you know—and what you don’t know yet. Clearly communicating you intend to learn and be a fast study helps everyone’s confidence grow—including yours.
Finally, as your own agent for change in career, business, and life, remember this WOW—and draw upon all that makes you who you are. Tasks may be different, terms unfamiliar, and mistakes ahead plentiful, yet as the WOW reminds—only you can sell yourself short. DON’T.