535: Empowering Career Advice From Successful Career Changers

Feeling stuck in your career and ready for a change? 7 successful career changers share actionable advice to help you recognize when it's time to switch and take empowering steps to finding more meaningful work.


on this episode

Ever felt like you’re stuck in your career, spinning your wheels with no clear direction? Ready for a change but not sure where to begin?

We’re sharing career advice from 7 people who have made the change to more meaningful work aligned with their passions and strengths. Their advice is all about taking action and will show you how to kickstart your journey towards a significant career change. From setting goals to expanding your network, and digging into your strengths, you’ll have some real steps to take from their career advice.

One question we get all the time is, “When is the right time for a career change?” Our guests explain how they figured out the signs that it was time to make a change and what spurred them to take action.

Listen now to hear some surprising and empowering career change advice from people who’ve been where you are and want to help you find your path to a more fulfilling career!

What you’ll learn

  • What you can do today to start towards a significant career change and personal growth
  • Career advice on when you’ll know if you should make a change or not
  • The value of confronting your fears when it comes to the search for a more fulfilling career
  • How to discover new career opportunities and options you may not have considered before

Success Stories

I stumbled across HTYC through an article and it gave me hope again. After a Strengths Finder review session with your career coach and the Figure Out What Fits course, I've finally admitted to myself what I really want to do, what I really want out of life, and have made a decision.

Kevin Long, UX Programmer, United States/Canada

“It’s hard to find something that fits, that’s why so many people change careers. When I finally understood my strengths and how I could apply them it all made sense. It just made it easier to see what types of jobs and roles would fit me. In my new career I get to do the marketing that I love with a company I’m excited about.”

Kirby Verceles, Sales & Marketing Director

Travis Moore 00:01

My biggest advice is to show up for yourself, know that you're worth it, and know that your value in the world is important and we need you to authentically show up as yourself in order to change the world.

Introduction 00:17

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

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:42

When you first begin considering a career change, it's impossible to predict all the obstacles that could get in your way. But there is one obstacle that I am 100% sure, without a doubt, will be there. What is that obstacle? Well, drumroll please. It turns out, it's you. Yep. The biggest obstacle standing in the way of your ideal career is you. Your indecision, doubts, overthinking tendencies, procrastination, comfort zone, all of it, is keeping you from what will likely be the best decision for your career and your life. You just have to get out of your own way. You might be like, "Scott, how do I know if a career change will be the right move for my career?" Well, we went to people that had already done the work to make an intentional career change, and ended up with their ideal role doing what they consider to be meaningful work that leverages their strengths. And all these people, we ask the same question over and over again. That question, what advice would you give someone who's considering making a career change but don't know if they should? I actually now ask this question to thousands of people, many of whom have worked with us to change careers. And we use all of that data, of course, to write our book– Happen to Your Career: An Unconventional Approach to Career Change and Meaningful Work. But since we couldn't fit in the 1000 people in a podcast episode, what we did is, we chose seven pieces of advice from clients of ours. These are people who just like you, were unhappy or bored, or felt like they were meant for more, or had health issues that were linked to their career. So some of these people were in great situations, and it just wasn't the right fit. Other people were in pretty terrible situations. The commonality is they all found work that they felt was meaningful, and all of them made a change, starting with deciding to take action towards that meaningful work. Here's what's interesting about their advice, it's all possible. Everything is possible. None of them, zero of them, found magic beans and climbed the beanstalk to the radio careers. Everything they did to find their ideal career is attainable. You just have to get out of your own way. I want you to listen first to Maggie. Maggie's story, she started actually to get some clues that her role as a media coordinator wasn't the best fit when she realized everyone else around her was really into their work. And she was just not at that level of interest. She did a great job of digging into her strengths and identifying a role that fit her as well as her strengths, and a sense used that knowledge to continually pivot into roles that align with her ideals. Since that time, Maggie has been promoted not one, not two, not three, but four times each time into a role that fit her even better. So what advice would she give?

Maggie Romanovich 03:40

The advice that I would give that person is advice that my brilliant wise husband has given me and that is "the time is passing, whether you are participating in your life or not. So go do the thing." Even if it's just one step forward, that's one step closer than you were yesterday, even if that step doesn't work out, and it's a misstep, it's something that you can cross off your list, but the time is passing. So what are you going to do with the rest of the revolutions you have around this planet? Like, let's just keep moving forward, even if it's something small, that gives a little bit of progress, eventually, that momentum is going to pick up and it can be a little bit scary. It's like getting to the high dive and you just creep a little bit closer and you look over the edge until you finally jump in. But the time is passing anyway, to do something with it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:26

Nancy had helped to start an event management company and worked there for 20 years when she had the revelation that she was lacking autonomy in her career. Yes, this can even be the case for a co-owner of the company. She wasn't able to lead her team in the way she desired and she wasn't spending as much time with her family as she wanted and she desperately needed to change. She decided to have what she described as the most difficult conversation of her life with her CEO and fellow founder, letting them know that she was leaving the company. From there, Nancy took the time to really slow down and figure out what would make her next role, the absolute best role for her career and life. All of her hard work paid off when she found a role that not only gave her the autonomy she desired, but also checked every other box of her ideal career checklist.

Nancy 05:18

I just decided that it was time. I was just after so much angst and discomfort and unhappiness. And I think the advice is, if you're feeling that way, you know, listen to yourself. Life is short, and just listen to the voices that are speaking to you. Everything will be okay. Like, if you're a smart professional, you'll figure it out. You'll find a way to figure it out. Just don't... Life is too short to be so unhappy and to be wondering if there's something better. So I think, you know, it can be scary, but it will be okay.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:50

Erin's story starts with making several career changes. She went from owning her own cleaning company, to real estate, to working her way up the corporate ladder at Dell. She was extremely proud of her accomplishments. She was a single mom, so she had definitely felt the pressure over the years to make sure that she had an income in one way or another. Okay, interesting thing with Erin's story, she realized, somewhere along the line, that all the elements that she was missing in her work at Dell could actually be fulfilled by real estate. And that having done real estate in the past, and owning her cleaning company all those years ago, had actually been on the right track of what a fulfilling career was for her. It was just the wrong timing and it was just the wrong situation. Now, this realization actually gave her the courage to leave her corporate role, and take the leap into real estate for full time. It wasn't her first rodeo. But it definitely was the best decision she could have made for her particular career. One other interesting note about Erin is that her story really illustrates how someone's career can continue to evolve and get refined in ways that we can't always anticipate. Here's what Erin had to say when I asked her about what advice she would give.

Erin Szczerba 07:10

I would definitely say that you've got to embrace that you don't know what you don't know. And that if you're feeling at all dissatisfied with where you're at, or like maybe there's something more than you've got to go down every hallway and look in every nook and cranny to figure out what's your sweet spot, and we can get really small worlds in work, and we can have absolutely no clue what else is out there. And honestly, I mean, this is the truth. It's because I was listening to your podcast, and I just loved hearing people's stories that I realized like, there's something out there that's the perfect fit for me. I don't know what it is, and I need some help figuring it out. But I believe I'm going to find that thing that's perfect for me.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:11

Larry had been working in what many would call his passion for his entire career. He was a head brewer at a brewery where he got to know every aspect of beer, sounds pretty great, right? Well, it was. He loved it for many years. And then he hit a wall. And it was no longer great. And that as it turns out, it happens. It's real life. And he didn't know what his next step should be until he began doing the work to figure out what he was missing at that point in his life. Through this work, he realized he could take all of his knowledge from his years in the brewery, combine it with his love of finance and become a financial coach consulting breweries on how to be financially successful. Pretty cool, right? Here's the advice Larry gave.

Larry Chase 08:56

There's a few things that come to mind. It's one, my wife likes to say and it's, "Leap and the net will appear." Really, really difficult to do. I get that. Really, really difficult to do. Yet, if your mindset is thinking positively in that direction, it happens. I think another piece of advice is, don't wait. Because I didn't talk about how it took me, probably, took me way too long to leave that last job even though it was probably two or three years that I knew I needed to be out of there. And yeah, don't wait. It may seem really really difficult that you can't and you gotta wait this out, yet, you will feel so much better. And it's not the first time. I've left two jobs under duress. And the first time I did it, I should have done it sooner. And this last time, I should have done it sooner. So don't wait.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:58

Meet Kat. Kat had emigrated to the United States, graduated from college and years later found herself feeling stuck with no idea of how to progress her career. She'd always envision that she would find her ideal role in the corporate world, and that achievement would be the final piece of the puzzle that would make everything else in her life fall into place. Here's what she didn't realize. A service industry job that she had been working in for over a decade, just to get by, was actually checking almost all the boxes. So strangely, it turned out that the work she needed to do wasn't actually making a big change for industries or careers. Instead, it was clarifying her vision and challenging her own limiting beliefs. Kat ended up staying in the same industry, getting promoted in her restaurant role, and began teaching salsa classes on the side. Combined, these multiple opportunities gave her every single thing she defined would make up her ideal career. Pretty crazy, right? So what advice would Kat give?

Kat Bolikava 11:02

Well, the first thing I would say is that, if you don't do something differently, you won't get different results. So every time I acted on something, or attempted something, it would lend me in a slightly different position where I would see other paths for development or poor pursuits. However, because of my own limitations of my own mind, my own thinking, my upbringing, my experiences, I would end up making the same decision in how to approach those opportunities. So I think that, aside from don't be afraid to try things, because that will lead you in the new environment where you may recognize the opportunities. But if you're anything of a mindset that I had, then don't be afraid to ask for help. Because if you're thinking the same way over and over again, it doesn't matter what situations are coming at you because you won't make new decisions, because you're set in your ways of how you process things. So you need someone who will show you sometimes, gently, sometimes not so gently, but they will show you how to look at the situation from a slightly different vantage point.

Scott Anthony Barlow 12:17

Okay, here's the thing. I want you to meet Travis. And Travis had been all over the map working in healthcare. Even so, he still felt like he was called to do more and kept getting very bored in every role that he held. He is a registered nurse, board certified healthcare leader, he holds a doctorate in nursing and health innovation. Yet, he still felt like he was lacking his why, and thought that if he could just figure out that one thing, then he would finally feel like he'd reached his career goal. Spoiler alert. These days, Travis finally feels at peace with where his career is. But it's not because he found that one single thing that he's going to do for the rest of his entire life. Although he did land a really awesome opportunity as the director of healthcare at Indeed.com, he also discovered that he could fill his never ending thirst for change and excitement by pursuing his interest outside of his day job and starting his own podcast and company with a friend. This gave him the best of both worlds enjoying his secure day to day job, as well as pursuing all of these other interests. Pretty cool, right? Here's the advice Travis gives.

Travis Moore 13:27

I think the best advice that I was given was, you might not be able to see the last step but can you see the next step? And taking that next step. And if you can't see the next step, then you need to do some more clarification about what you're doing right now, and the direction you're headed, and what's important to you. And you have to believe that the step after that will appear. And it's something that you have to commit to yourself and realize that you are the only you in this world. And you're the only one that has a certain set of experiences, and education, and spirit that you have, and you're the only one that can deliver the impact that you're meant to deliver in this world. And if you don't show up, the world isn't a brighter place. And you have to show up in order to make that happen. And once you know your value and know that you are important and that you matter, and that the world is waiting for you to show up, it creates this new level of almost camaraderie with the world or like the sense of purpose or it's motivating. It's like oh my gosh, then I get excited around, "what is that?" The journey and the excitement of discovery and figuring out what it is that I'm going to do and what's the impact that I'm going to make and how can I change somebody's life today is kind of a motivating thing that really inspires me and when I'm having these days where I'm like, "Oh my God, I don't want to show up. I don't want to get up. I don't want to be involved." It gives you this new breath of fresh air and a little wind under your wings as it were to be able to get up and show up. So I think that my biggest advice is to show up for yourself, know that you're worth it and know that your value in the world is important, and we need you to authentically show up as yourself in order to change the world. Look for the next step, and beyond that, don't worry about it, take the next step.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:23

Aaron had originally went to school to become an attorney, got his JD, and then promptly went into construction management when he thought that lodgest was not going to be in the cards for him. Well, after being in construction management for years, in fact, over a decade, he was miserable, he was beyond miserable, he began contemplating some pretty scary things, if it meant he could just get out of work. And to make things worse, this wasn't any old job where he felt like he could quit. It was his family's business. Aaron decided that it was time to take agency over his career for the first time in his life. He worked up the courage to talk to his boss, aka dad, about leaving the company and began pursuing a career in a totally different industry. In this case, law. Really interesting note about Aaron's situation too is that he actually combined together all of the knowledge that he had accumulated in construction management, and leveraged it going into law to find a role that really was an amazing fit for him. After doing that, what advice would he give? Here you go.

Aaron Bartelt 16:30

Well, one is baby steps, right? Like, it starts very small. So you don't have to continue being a version of you that you don't like, I mean, it changes, and it's gradual. But even a month later, you look back, it's like, "wow, I'm different." And it's easy to look at all the things that need to change in order for me to feel like I have my life in order, or feel like I'm satisfied with my career, my family, my house, whatever it is. But those are always going to stay the same unless you do something about it. And it can be 20 minutes, you know, prove yourself that you can do something that scares you, or, I don't know, because you can. You absolutely can do the thing that you're afraid of, and consequences of doing something and failing are, where you're at. And if you're unhappy with that, try. But that is the kernel of it for me is that all of the stories that you're telling yourself about what can go wrong if you do something, in all likelihood, the worst case is where you're at.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:48

Okay, this episode was chock full of advice from people that have been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and includes many factors that you might not have thought would be incredibly important. The type of unconventional advice that you heard is what I've included in our book. And in fact, it's what led me to write the book: Happen To Your Career: An Unconventional Approach to Career Change and Meaningful Work. Which you can find on Amazon or any other major book reseller. Or you can get the audiobook on Audible. If you love this episode, then I would encourage you to do that. It will give you even more information on all the things that you didn't know that are going to be critical for your career change so that you can kick-start your journey. Okay, here's a sneak peek into what's coming up next week, right here on Happen To Your Career.

Speaker 8 18:38

And she said, "Hey, it sounds like you're doing a lot of really cool things. And you're doing a lot of cool, like, little steps to get to where you are." She was like, "But don't be afraid to take that big step."

Scott Anthony Barlow 18:51

This probably won't entirely come as a surprise to you. But we've found that when you start doing the work to make a big change, like, specifically a career change, those big moves bleed into every other area of your life. And if this is not your first episode of the podcast, you've probably heard this many times before when we talk about people who have made the changes in their work, and it influences them to play big in the rest of their life. Like in Episode 483, where Kate Gleason Bachman pivoted out of her lifelong career as a nurse and then went on to complete her first ultra-marathon, not just a regular marathon, but ultra-marathon. Pretty cool, right? Another client used career experiments to connect to people and then those people changed her life.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:39

All that and plenty more next week 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. Adios. I'm out.

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