The Courage to Change

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    I started Women Leading Together in the fall of 2012.  It was the launch of my second career after a rewarding and successful corporate career.  I had the basic idea for what I wanted to do in early 2011.  So what happened in the following year and a half?

    I talked to people. 

    I met with friends, coaches, and advisors. I interviewed for financial jobs, thinking perhaps something more like what I’ve done in the past really was what I should do in the future.  (Luckily, my gut told me otherwise.)  I played with ideas of what it my new career would look like.  I envisioned my days, my clients and my lifestyle in this business.

    All of these were worthwhile steps, and a part of the change process.  But if I’m really honest, what kept me from moving ahead was fear.

    Fear of the unknown.  Fear of  change.  Fear of failure.

    Fear can sometimes make us postpone a change we know we need to make.  We rationalize why now is not the right time.

    “I’m too busy.”  “Wait until the kids graduate.” “Wait until the year end close is complete” “Wait until I have $XXX in the bank.”

    And so on.  While some reasons are legitimate, often they are excuses to keep us where we’re comfortable – right where we are.

    A career change may come in the form of a new job within your company, a change to  your current responsibilities, a new job with a new company or venturing out on your own.  No matter what form it comes in, change tends to create stress.

    Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you’re struggling to make a change.

    Am I running to something or away from something?

    If you’re unhappy where you are, get clarity on why before you move. Having that clarity will help you move in the right direction and not just fantasize about an escape without strategically thinking it through.

    Do I need additional training?

    If you’re looking to make a significant change, consider whether you need further training.  When it comes to additional degrees, be realistic as to what that degree will help you achieve.  Sometimes it’s required for entry into a profession, or to receive higher pay, obtain a promotion or earn a higher professional designation.  It may be simply for your own satisfaction.

    Getting an MBA was important in the banking industry when I was in New York, but a few years later, when I was established, it ended up being a personal accomplishment.    I started Women Leading Together with a partner, leveraging my professional experience.  Once I got into it, I saw the ability to expand my services and further use my strengths by becoming a certified coach.

    Will this change energize me?

    Even though I had a clear picture of what I wanted to do, I was drawn to the familiar types of jobs.  Plus I was encouraged and sought after for those types of jobs.  That was my personal brand.  But one evening, at the wedding of a friend’s daughter, I saw former colleagues all congregating around a high profile executive who could give them business.  I knew in that moment that I didn’t want to spend my leisure hours marketing financial services.  That clarity gave me more courage to move on to the second career I had envisioned in serving business through leadership development.

    Does this build on my strengths?

    Every career change or advancement should build on your natural strengths.  It may give you opportunities to apply your strengths in a new way, or develop new skills, but your professional strengths must be the foundation. 

    Do I need or have a safety net?

    Consider whether this change is an acceptable risk for you.  If you’re starting your own company, or going to work with stock as your compensation, be realistic about the financial implications.  If you’re taking a job in your current company that is a big change for you, do you have your supporters and mentors lined up to help you in the transition?

    What is holding me back?

    Spend some time considering whether it’s intuition or fear holding you back.  Intuition – your gut – may be sending you a valid message.  Excuses and fear are designed to keep you comfortable.

    At some point, you’ll have to decide and take action.

    Talk to people. Get trained if you need it.  Create a “personal board” of supporters and advisors.  Tap into coaching resources.  Understand what you’re getting into, but don’t research it endlessly.  At some point, you have to move forward, even if your decision is not to move.  

    If figuring out your next career step is on your mind, sign up for my Fall workshop, “Defining Your Next Career Step”.  This virtual workshop in four sessions starts August 29.  It may be just the boost you need to get the courage you’re looking for.  For more information.  For more information contact Susan Hodge or visit