418: Surprising Career Change Advice From 6 People Who Made the Switch

We asked several of our past guests and clients to share some advice on what it takes to make a career change. No fancy resumes or bulking up your skillset – it all starts with you.


on this episode

Making a huge life change such as shifting careers can seem like an intimidating task.

It’s more than just handing in your resignation and then immediately moving onto something better. Sometimes it means letting go of a job that pays well and going through a trial and error process. 

But we’ve also learned that despite the risks, the journey allows you to discover what you really want to do and what you value in a job, so you know what to go after. 

In this episode, you’ll hear from 6 people who’ve successfully made career changes. More importantly they will all answer the question: 

What advice would you give to a professional or exec who’s ready to make a career change? 

From taking the time off to prioritize your health and well-being to asking for help when needed, to removing unnecessary pressure from yourself – they share incredible insights based on their own experiences that helped them secure the role they desire.

what you’ll learn

  • Why it’s important to determine what you want before going after it.
  • How taking care of your health and wellness translates to effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Why you should not see asking for help as a weakness, but a strength.
  • Why you shouldn’t settle for a “good” job.
  • How to reach out for support when you need to make a change.

Success Stories

as I was diving into the bootcamp at Happen To Your Career, and I was really trying to think broadly, I had this moment of thinking, "Okay, should I even should I be a lawyer? What should I do?" so I worked with Happen To Your Career really started trying to dig deep and lay a foundation… it was helpful to have Lisa through the interviewing process, and all the little events like "oh, someone responded like this, how should I respond?" How should I deal with all the steps along the way? I also had a tendency to form myself into what I thought they were looking for and Lisa helped me be who I actually am in the interviews.

Rebecca Maddox, Attorney, United States/Canada

The transition was so much easier than the last and so much more gratifying because of all that I learned with HTYC

Michal Balass, Social Science Research Analyst, United States/Canada

I think one of the reasons the podcast has been so helpful to me is because you talk to people in different roles, and all of a sudden I have exposure to people in different roles. Talking about why they got there and what they like about it.

Laura Morrison, Senior Product Manager, United States/Canada

I just remember from that visioning exercise, being able to say no to something, even if it's a great opportunity or a great experience. It shows that as we moved through these journeys, whether it's life or even business that we… we have to stay true to what we're really searching for and wanting to create.

Matthew Toy, Yoga Instructor, United States/Canada

Matt Toy 00:01

You allocate time to all the things that keep the machine going, that keep, you know, gas in the tank, essentially.

Laura Morrison 00:08

Particularly as someone who has been successful, it's hard to admit to myself, it was hard for me to say I couldn't do it by myself.

Introduction 00:20

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what it does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:44

Welcome to the Happen To Your Career podcast. I'm Scott Anthony Barlow. This is the show where we share stories of how high achievers find career happiness and meaning. Our team, every single day, we get tons of questions about everything you can imagine to do with careers. What should I do differently on my applications to get the interviews that I want? How do I narrow down the list of stuff that I'm interested in to make into a career? How do I translate my skills into something that would be amazing for a job or career opportunity? And here's the thing, we absolutely love that we get all these questions. It's the reason why we do what we do. We'd love to be able to help. And at the same time, what we've learned is that most of the time when we get these questions, they're just barely scratching the surface of what you need to know, to make really big career changes, to design a career in a life that you love. And many of the things that you want if you're listening to this show right now. So we thought, okay, well, we asked many of our students, and our podcast guests, what advice would you give other people that want to make a really big career change to meaningful work? And we do that, at the end of many of our episodes, we do that when people go through our programs and our bootcamps, and they've made a huge change. And here's the thing, these are people that have been there, they've done that, they've made the journey. And we thought it would be really incredibly valuable to take the advice that each of these people have given when they're on the other side. And they know all the things that you need to do and how to do them and what they experienced and what worked and what didn't work. So in this particular episode, we've taken that advice from six different people, most of them students of ours, and we share the things that you wouldn't even think to ask about what it really takes to make a big career change.

Louise McNee 02:46

We all put the pressure on ourselves, I think in a lot of situations, there's not other people putting the pressure on us.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:51

That's Louise McNee, by the way, she made a move to a completely different industry, in this case, broadcasting that she had never worked in before and move to a role that she absolutely loves.

Louise McNee 03:02

You have to take the pressure off yourself. And you have to think about not just the role, but the people, you've got to think about everything because I remember when I did the, you know, what does your ideal day look like? I felt like I was being a bit spoiled by saying certain things. You know, I want to be able to, you know, wake up whatever time in the morning, I want to wake up and I want to be able to have a cup of tea in bed before I go to work, and really get down into those details because I find that it's not those details as such is not going to make you figure out what's going on, that you find a pattern in what you actually really need in your day to get, you know, through the day in the most positive, fulfilled way. So you know, it's like take the pressure off, really get down into the detail. And one of the things to me was kind of realizing that potentially, which is so different from where I was, one of me, I come from making career everything.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:04


Louise McNee 04:05

I've now realized that for me, career can't be everything.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:09

Louise's experience is interesting, because it's not that different from what many of us experience. We're adding pressure to ourselves that doesn't even need to be there. It's making it harder for us to make a real change in our lives. And then on top of that, many of us feel indulgent or she called it spoiled, if we really proclaim what we actually want. Now the thing that we've learned is if you never acknowledge what you really want, and you never asked for what you want, then you never actually get to what you want. Rebecca Maddox had a really similar experience.

Rebecca Maddox 04:42

I say you owe it to yourself. Just give it some time, give it... see what you think.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:48

By the way, Rebecca, was a burned out attorney who was also tired of life and the whole game that was being played in Washington DC and she made a pretty huge change to a completely different organization, across the country that truly met her needs.

Rebecca Maddox 05:02

Go look into, like, see what your options are. Reach out to someone, talk to friend, and say, "hey can you even get paid does this sort of thing? I think it's interesting.” And maybe meet up for coffee, because a five minute conversation or even 15 minute conversation, saying, “Hi, I think what you do is amazing. I'm really curious when you do your job.” I would say it's worth it. It's no pressure. And if it works out, that's how most people find their jobs anyways. And if you're in that moment and thinking, "Geez, I'm so entrenched in where I am, like, moving to a different opportunity is kind of a joke." I would say, "Maybe you're right, there's a good chance that you're probably wrong, unless you're an extremely niche field." Because skills are transferable. And if you're in that moment, where you're realizing this is something that's really hitting me hard and hitting, like impacting those around me, right, like, it's when it goes beyond just you and starts impacting those around you, like you may be having that impact on those around you, and realize that, if there are those people in your life who say, get your job, and you stick to it. And that's the one thing that you do, that's not the world we live in. It's more a game of rather than, like, plant your roots and see how deep they go, you feel a little bit more like a game of chutes and ladders. So it's just a matter of where you shift. And ultimately, like if people are telling you, you got the dream, but it's something doesn't feel right. That's fine. Trust that. And if people are angry, they'll come around. Especially if you're like, you know this wrong, you're going to make yourself happy, it's going to make everyone else happy. And we've looked into it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:56

There's a particularly funny thing about the way meaningful careers work. What's the dream, I'm using air quotes, for one person is the next person's nightmare. And just staying in your job or role because it seems like a good job won't actually make that feeling go away. Maybe you've already had that realization, though, and you decide you're going to make a change, whether it's a new career for you, or maybe it's even starting your own thing. How do you decide where to spend your time and what's going to be valuable for your time?

Matt Toy 07:27

The more that you can double down on your health and your wellness, the better. That will go back to effectiveness and efficiency of how you run your business. And also just the decisions that you make.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:38

That's Matt Toy. And in his case, he was starting his own thing. It was a yoga studio, specifically for men. But he found that he was faced with the same thing that everybody does, when they're making a big change like this. We all only have 24 hours in a day. So how you use that time becomes even more important when you're already busy. And now you're adding even more by trying to make a career change or start something new on top of it all.

Matt Toy 08:07

So what I loved about your course was the whole master schedule. So really looking down and saying what's my schedule look like on a day to day, weekly, monthly, maybe even yearly basis and really figuring out okay, where am I losing time? Or where am I not being effective? Or where am I just sitting by myself thinking and analyzing and judging and blah, blah, blah. So that was really helpful to look at it and be like, "Okay, cool. When I am going to be taking action and growing a business, am I still going to go to the gym? Am I still going to practice yoga? Am I still going to eat well?" You know, you allocate time to all the things that keep the machine going, that keep, you know, gas in the tank, essentially, because the downfall or the pitfall that I've seen, especially for younger people, you know, 20s, 30s is that they get all hyped up, they get an idea and they go full fledged, right. Whether or not it's the right idea doesn't matter, but they go full fledge, burn themselves out, just not losing those core principles while you build a business because it's going to be challenging when you build a business, there's going to be lots of unknowns, right. And that puts you in a lot of times an emotional state that's like a little bit frantic.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:19

Something else that Matt mentioned, is one thing that we see that's difficult for nearly everyone, for some reason, most of us think that we can do this thing all by ourselves, but honestly, these types of changes really rarely happen without the support of other people in this world.

Laura Morrison 09:38

Yeah, I think you know, it took me a few months to look for outside help. And that was the thing that I needed.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:46

Okay, you might remember Laura Morrison, she was back on episode 213 of the podcast. She was working in sustainability. She had a great job, but she'd pretty much topped out on growth with the organization and she had an 18 month old baby and knew that she may needed to make a change, but she was getting pretty stuck.

Laura Morrison 10:04

I think, particularly as someone who has been successful, it's hard to admit to myself, it was hard for me to say I couldn't do it by myself. You know, I'm smart person, I should be able to figure this out. But as soon as I, you know, had my first career coaching experience, it completely turned around my approach to finding a new job. And it completely gave me the power back and the tools that I needed to do it. So I think, you know, if you know exactly what you want to do, well, you're probably not listening to this podcast. But if you don't, just know that there are a lot of tools and resources and people out there who can help you. And for me, that made all the difference.

Michal Balass 10:48

Be kind to yourself, be patient to yourself, and that things do always work out.

Scott Anthony Barlow 10:55

That's Michal Balass, her journey took over a year to make her career change. But here's the thing, if she would have rushed it, though, she might not have found the role that she's in now, or even started a side business in photography along the way.

Michal Balass 11:12

Keep on having conversations, don't have conversations, because you're looking for another job, have conversations with people who are doing things that are interesting, because you're interested in it. And that's going to open a whole world to you that you don't know about because you're not having conversations. And I want to say that I'm a very introverted person, when I walk into a party, I'm not the center of it, and never was, but I can have these conversations now. And I am still connecting. And, you know, even now, where I'm very happy with my current position, and I'm not looking to do anything necessarily, in terms of leaving or anything of that nature, I'm still having conversations, I'm having conversations with other people at universities, I'm having conversations with people outside of my department learning about interesting things, because I don't know what circumstance is going to change, which is going to spark another move or another desire for a career change. And I think that's really important. The important part of having conversations is about that it enlightens you about the possibilities. And when you hear about somebody who's doing something that is so fantastically interesting to you, very inspiring, it keeps me going, it keeps me growing as a professional.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:41

Michal kept doing the really hard things. And in her case, this meant having conversations and building relationships with others, even though this was incredibly difficult for her at first. But she later learned that she actually enjoyed this. But there were many times where she had to do those things that she didn't want to do to get where she wanted to go. Now, Dave Stachowiak, has found the exact same thing.

Dave Stachowiak 13:07

I said, "You know what? I'm not sure how this all gonna work long term. Yes, I'm struggling this week, or this month with putting my time and effort into this. But I said I was gonna do this. And so I'm going to keep doing it." And I love the quote, from... I forget which NBA player it was from. One of the NBA players said, "Being a professional is about doing the things you love to do on the days you don't feel like doing it." And that to me resonates because that's been my whole career, there's been days I've shown up for everything that I don't want to do what I need to do that day, or what I've committed to do to someone that day, or to my clients or to my organization. And so while it was frustrating at times, that also was not something that was... that I hadn't navigated before. And I said, "I'm gonna keep doing this and just see what happens." And it's also helpful and this is where what your listeners here are doing, Scott, is listening to other perspectives and listening other people out there and listening to people say things like, "If you do anything that is meaningful in the world, it's going to take time, it's not going to be an overnight success. And nor should it be." In fact, today that's, you know, it's just part of the journey. And it's very much adapted and grown.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:25

Hey, I hope you have enjoyed this episode. It's chock-full of advice from people that have been there, done that, got the teaser, all the things that you probably wouldn't have thought would be so incredibly important. And if I didn't do this day after day and hadn't made any of these changes myself, I probably went to realize that either. So we've actually taken all of this advice, everything and put it on to a blog post that can be even more useful and we put a little extra into, so you can go over to happentoyourcareer.com and find all of this advice, the transcript for this episode. And even more to get you started in your journey, all the things that you didn't even know, you didn't know would be critical for your career change.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:08

Most of our episodes on Happen To Your Career often showcase stories of people that have identified and found and take the steps to get to work that they are absolutely enamored with, that matches their strengths, and is really what they want in their lives. And if that's something that you're ready to begin taking steps towards, that is awesome, you can actually get on the phone with us and our team. And we can have a conversation to find the very best way that we can help. It's super informal. And we try to understand what your goals are, where you want to go, and what specifically you need our help with. And then we figure out the very best type of help for you, whatever that looks like, and sometimes even customize that type of help. And then we make happen. Really easy way to schedule a conversation with our team is just go to scheduleaconversation.com, that scheduleaconversation.com and find a time that works best for you, we'll ask you a few questions, as well. And then we'll get you on the phone to figure out how we can get you going to work that you really want to be doing that fits your strengths, that you love, and you're enamored with. Hey, I can't wait to hear from you.

Mike Bigelow 16:29

My name is Mike Bigelow, and I'm an engineer who was living in Portland, Oregon, and was moving up to Seattle, Washington to support my wife's career change. And kind of move back home. My folks are still up here as well. As we're speaking now I am sitting in my new apartment having unpacked and most of it in a gap week between when I left my old job, when I'm starting my new job. So yeah, right here. And now it's pretty cool.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:55

Having unpacked most of it, that in itself is a success.

Mike Bigelow 16:59

No kidding man, no kidding.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:02

We got the pleasure of helping Mike make his career change. And in this episode, you're going to hear exactly what the differences are between local versus remote job searching, because we get so many questions about that. And Mike did a really fantastic job with this, not just in his most recent change, but over the life of his career. And also how to maximize your time in both situations, which is incredibly valuable, and then how career coaching can take you from being a good job candidate to a great candidate by offering the path that you want to grow along. And Mike did something really particularly well in identifying what his big value ads were from his past job experiences. And then he gives some really great examples in how you can apply them to nearly any industry. We get pretty deep into how creating a conversational environment during informational interviews and what we call the test drive method opens so many more doors than walking into the conversation, expecting a job offer or traditional job search methods. So all that and plenty more next week[18:10][a] right here on Happen To Your Career. Make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click subscribe on your podcast player so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically, even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until, next week[18:30][b]. Adios. I'm out.


_Assigned to Joshua Rivers_


_Assigned to Joshua Rivers_

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