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How Do I Change My Career to Live My Purpose?

by Vishnu


“When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny.”—Bertice Berry

You’ve had enough.

Enough of browsing The Huffington Post and Match.com. Enough of reading Live Your Legend articles and pinning photos of Michael Kors handbags you’d like to own one day.

You had coffee, billed a client, called your mom, billed a client, browsed Facebook 18 times and billed a client. Now you can’t wait until 8 p.m. so you can leave the office.

Your life as a corporate lawyer is soul-sucking, depressing and completely mind-numbing.

The thought runs through you. ‘Who cares about this @#$%? What does it matter who owns a piece of intellectual property? Who cares who buys who and who’s infringing on the trademark?’

As clients fight and your billables increase, you lose sleep, your hair and your sanity. Oh yeah, and your soul.

Yup, it’s time for a change.

You’ve decided to listen to the soft whispers you’ve heard your entire life, and to pursue your calling, your life’s work, your dream…

My transition to my purpose.

“Be the change you want to see in the world” is the quote from Gandhi that has had the most impact on my life. Growing up in America, I saw a world filled with inequality, injustice and powerful corporate interests that took advantage of others.

It’s why I went to law school and became a lawyer. I thought I could achieve the greatest amount of change in people’s lives, as well as in society, by helping to change laws and policies.

When I found myself filing lawsuits for unhappy neighbors, people who rear-ended each other and bitter spouses, I knew it was time to do something else.

I wanted to help people; the practice that called to me was immigration law. I also wanted to work on my own terms, so I left a stable, full-time, well-paying job at a law firm to start my own immigration practice.

Was I crazy? (Don’t answer that.)

I opened an online immigration office. During the year I spent preparing to leave my full-time job, I rented an office, built a website that advertised my legal services, and hired contractors to help with various aspects of the business.

I left my steady job and found myself immersed in the world of entrepreneurism and business. I had to quickly learn about online business, sales and marketing.

I felt overwhelmed but in my element. I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was a conduit or vehicle for families to unite, for people to build their dreams and to live their best lives in the United States.

I loved everything about the work but had to let it go when, a couple of years later, I started struggling financially. Running a new business was a challenge and I realized that I was investing much of my earnings back into the business.

I went back to a regular, full-time job, but over the next few years I experienced another strong pull to serve people, albeit in a different capacity. I found that I enjoyed coaching people more than I enjoyed doing legal work for them.

In my clients’ most critical hours, they seemed to benefit more from my coaching skills than from my legal skills. I could help people change their perspectives, reframe their situations and achieve more control of their lives.

I wanted to become a coach and I launched this blog.

As I’ve built the blog, I’ve once again gone into and out of employment. I’ve taken a coaching course and started helping people around the world build their lives after epic downfalls. I’ve helped people stand up after hitting rock bottom in their careers and relationships.

I’ve had to plan for this change, alter my lifestyle to fit my variable income and take small steps to build the business. But now more than ever I feel like I’m in my element.

I’m able to help people with their most challenging life situations by confronting the very obstacles that keep them stuck. I help them dramatically improve their lives. The people I coach have moved on from paralyzing relationships and left soul-crushing corporate careers to perform more meaningful work.

Why ditch the corporate ladder to live your purpose?

No one is asking you to quit your job and turn your life upside-down today.

Or asking you to live a life of hunger and poverty.

But you need to embark on this career change to stay true to your lifelong calling and dreams.

If you don’t know what your life calling is, that’s another story, and a discussion for another day. This post is for those of you who know what your mission in this world is. You’re just not doing anything about it. (If you’re trying to figure out your purpose, read this post, or, after signing up for my weekly updates, check out the e-book I wrote on the subject. You’ll receive a guide called “11 ways to discover your highest purpose…”.)

Consider changing your career and pursuing your dreams. Life’s too short, and you don’t want to live it in regret. You don’t want to retire in 30 years and think that you could have done so much more.

When you’re pursuing your purpose, you’re contributing your greatest good to the world. You are serving yourself by staying true to yourself. You’re having the biggest effect on people. Your purpose is a gift, and we should always share our gifts.

Finally, when you pursue your purpose and you’re in 100-percent alignment with it, you become better at what you do. You realize more opportunities and become luckier in life as circumstances fall into place.

Here are 14 tips to help you transition from your humdrum career to your purpose.

1. Seek more clarity.

Don’t jump into a new venture until you’re sure it’s what you want to do. Don’t look around and think, ‘That sounds fun,’ then dive into something that might not suit you. Don’t take big leaps until you’ve done both the internal work necessary for discovering your purpose and the practical work involved in figuring out how you’ll arrive there. In other words, plan and prepare to undergo a transition.

2. Listen to yourself.

You may be hearing soft whispers or loud chatters within yourself to pursue a calling. First, ensure it’s not the alcohol talking. Then, become more aware of this inner voice – your intuition and your guide. You may have heard it your entire life, and it may be screaming at you now to pursue your dream, live your purpose or follow your calling. Be more receptive to the messages you hear from yourself.

3. Are you passionate about it?

A good way to determine whether your plans are in line with your purpose is to discover whether you’re passionate about the new line of work.

Your passions can sustain your purpose. If you’re about to undergo a career transition, why not do something you enjoy? Why not do something that won’t feel like work? Why not do something that you LOVE? Determine those skills that you love in your current job and that you can incorporate into your next venture.

4. Are you good at it?

You have no idea how you’ll do in your new career, but consider whether your strengths transfer to that line of work. Ideally, you want to use skills and strengths that you already have and find a new place to use them. What skills and abilities does your new line of work require? Do you already have them or will you be able to develop them?

5. Earn experience in your new field.

Get it (experience) any way you can – attend workshops, volunteer, take part in an internship or find another way to jam your foot in the door. Can you build the skills for your next venture in your current job? Can you work in a different department or on different projects that will help you hone the skills you’ll need for your new career? Can you transfer divisions at your current job, or receive training for work you’ll do after you leave your current position?

6. Freelance or consult.

A great way to test your new interest or your lifelong calling is to consult. Become a freelancer and work for a flat fee or an hourly fee (or for no fee if you’re just starting out). Give yourself an opportunity to test your big move while you still have a job.

How valuable can you be to people? How can you foster change? How much can you learn while helping and serving others?

By consulting and freelancing, you’ll develop a better idea regarding whether you’d like to pursue your purpose full-time.

7. No more school.

Unless your calling is to be a heart surgeon or to represent people in court, don’t think that you need another degree or more education. You can do 95 percent of what you want to do by acquiring more experience, conducting your own research and taking online courses that help you better understand your business or career. Don’t feel as though you must go into debt or take out loans to pursue your calling. Don’t let your finances or the excuse of more school stop you from moving toward your purpose.

Don’t get me wrong – a few professional fields require that you obtain another degree or license. But you definitely don’t need a certificate from a fashion school to start a fashion line or a culinary degree to open your own restaurant. Be creative and resourceful, and learn on the job.

8. Prepare.

If you’re planning to change careers, research your next venture. Read, find information online, talk to people and determine what you’ll need during your transition. Give yourself enough time to prepare professionally, personally, financially and mentally.

9. Save up.

Start preparing your finances if you’re pursuing something risky or that will leave you with unstable income for the foreseeable future. If you’ll be starting a business, consulting or going from a full-time salaried job to an entrepreneurial project, ensure that you have enough savings to cover your basic expenses for the next 6 to 12 months.

10. Scale down.

If you’re living large now but will be taking a dramatic shift in the opposite direction when you start your business, scale down to reduce your personal expenses. Move to a less costly apartment, pay off your car, and reduce expenses like cable and your wine-of-the-month-club membership.

11. Seek mentors.

Before you take the jump, find mentors in the field. Use your current contacts or even new LinkedIn contacts to learn more about the field you’re interested in.

When I decided to transition from my previous job to coaching, I reached out to other coaches, speakers and personal development experts who do this kind of work. Some I contacted online and some I contacted in person. I asked people to put me in touch with their own contacts who were coaches.

Every mentor you meet can provide you with ideas, inspiration and practical information about your future career.

12. Build your network.

Although you should have a strong network regardless of where you are in your career, this is especially important when you transition to a new field.

You’ll need allies, partners and people to hire you. Find out who they are and reach out to them. If you’re moving to a new field and don’t have contacts in that industry, start meeting them.

Find out which LinkedIn groups your tribe belongs to. Determine what events and associations represent the people you’re interested in working with. Learn the speakers and leaders in that field.

Attend events and workshops to meet potential allies and clients.

13. Rebrand yourself.

Most people have trouble with this part, but it’s critical if you’re undergoing a career change. Here are a few ways to rebrand yourself so that you’re able to tell a new story.

You’ll have to reframe your past experiences so they mesh with your new line of work. Whatever you’ve done in the past, you must explain it in terms of your new career. You must help people see the connection between your former skills and your current position. You must demonstrate how your former skills and abilities are relevant today.

Let’s say you used to work in banking but now consult for small businesses. What are the skills and abilities you have from your past life that can serve others now?

Or let’s say you were in sales but are now trying to become a teacher. You must highlight your sales strengths (listening, problem solving, helping people) and demonstrate how they apply to your current job.

If you’re a stockbroker who wants to work for a charity, determine which skills and abilities you can transfer. You must show that your ability to decide wisely, perform thorough analyses and communicate effectively are relevant to your new job. Your ability to work well in team-based environments, and with others in general, is also key.

You must rebrand everything about yourself – from your resume and LinkedIn account to the way you talk about yourself to other people.

One effective way to rebrand yourself is to look for jobs that you’re not only interested in but that align with your purpose. Look up a sample job description that provides information about your industry of interest and that lists the skills and qualifications you’ll need. When you analyze those criteria, think about all the actions you’re taking now that are on that list. This will tell you exactly how you should rebrand yourself.

14. Stay true to yourself.

career direction

As you narrow down your purpose and pursue what you should be doing in this world, you’ll meet both internal and external resistance. In terms of your own resistance, you must ensure that what you’re doing aligns with your values. You must challenge negative beliefs.

In terms of resistance from others, you must acknowledge that you will face judgment. Society wants you to conform to what it finds acceptable.

How do you stand up to societal expectations and family pressures?

As certified life passion coach Barrie Davenport has written, “The secret to non-conformity is the willingness to accept discomfort for a time – to accept the anxiety of uncertainty, the fear of the unknown, and the tension of possible rejection. By accepting the inevitability of these feelings from the get-go, you can dilute some of the discomfort. The rest will disappear over time as you become comfortable – even excited – about being your own person.

You must be willing to not fight over it, to not force others to understand what you’re doing and to simply stay true to your life’s calling. If what you want to do diverges from the straight path that others follow, stay vigilant and focused on your mission in life.

Thank you for tweeting out this post and liking it on Facebook.  Photo credit *Billy Gast

Interested in discovering and transitioning to your life’s purpose? Please visit my life direction coaching page here. Pick up my book on changing careers here.