I worked eight jobs in the first ten years of my career. I was caught in an endless cycle, always searching for a job that excited and challenged me more than my current one. I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to seek improvement for myself, and so I found myself always seeking something better and more fulfilling.
On paper, some of the positions I held seemed like dream jobs for me. Music is a huge part of my life, and my first internship was at a record label. I’ve loved beauty products for my whole life, so working in the beauty industry seemed like it was a dream come true. Working great jobs at coveted places made me feel like I should be happy, especially since I was good at what I did. The same went for my jobs producing nonprofit events and handling marketing for health and wellness brands; I excelled in these capacities, and each time, everyone assumed that I’d finally found the perfect job for me.
In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur—but I wasn’t sure what my business would look like or where I would fit in. That all changed when I found a career coach. As we worked together, I thought to myself, “How can I do her job?” Being a connector, supporter, and cheerleader for all my friends (and their friends!) felt like a part of my DNA. I couldn’t turn this part of myself off. It made perfect sense to make coaching my business.
By that point in my journey, finding the courage to make a career switch was the easiest part. I felt energized and thrilled by the thought of a career that was fulfilling and rewarding. If you’re feeling like I was feeling, here are a few of the realizations I had that helped push me to make a big career switch:
1. I like doing things my own way. Becoming an entrepreneur meant that I could leave my traditional roles behind and decide how I wanted to structure my business, what kinds of clients I wanted to take on, and how I wanted to design my lifestyle. None of these things were possible in my previous jobs. I experienced a big health scare in 2012, which resulted in me having surgery to remove a quarter of my right lung. After the surgery, I knew that my health and well-being needed to be a priority in my life. As an entrepreneur, I’m able to carve out time for self-care, which helps me to be more productive when I’m working. Changing careers made a new lifestyle possible.
2. I wanted to do work that mattered to me. I had quickly realized that a dream job doesn’t always equate to fulfilling work. I had always thought that working at a beauty company would be perfect for me, but I ended up hating the industry. Not only did not I not find the work rewarding, I didn’t identify with the values of the workplace. As I moved into working with nonprofits, I felt more connected to the missions of the organizations, but I still wasn’t happy with the overall role I was playing. Now, with my clients, I work with them to find jobs and careers that will light them up, and make them excited to go to work every day. That’s the feeling I was seeking when I made the switch to entrepreneurship, and it’s incredibly rewarding to me to help others navigate through their own career transitions.
3. I could work less but earn more. A 9-to-5 job can quickly take over your life. Sometimes, 9 to 5 is a low estimate of the time really needed to accomplish the job’s responsibilities. I realized that I could actually make more money working independently, and I would also be able to work smarter. I wouldn’t always have to work long days, and when I did, I would be doing so for the benefit of my own business. For me, it was a smart financial move to start working independently, even though it was scary at first. And it was a smart move for my happiness, too. Being able to choose the clients and projects I take on is one of the best parts of my job, and I’ve been lucky to work with people who are really excited to do the work that comes with coaching. Like I was, they’re ready for a change.
4. I realized that listening to myself was most important. It was freeing to realize that I didn’t need to choose a career based on what other people thought. Yes, I had strengths in the areas of marketing, event production and social media, but I had other strengths too. Once I started listening to myself, I realized that being a coach was what I wanted to do more than anything else. As it turned out, once I launched my business, friends and family then told me what a perfect fit it was for me. But if I hadn’t listened to myself, I would never have found the opportunity to find the career that I truly love.
About the Author
Harper Spero is a New York City-based business and career transition coach who has found a way to successfully integrate passion with purpose. Harper specializes in helping aspiring and current entrepreneurs break free from toxic environments, create tactical plans for growth, and navigate their careers to bring balance, fulfillment and structure to their lives. Using a mix of customized tools and hands-on techniques in her one-on-one coaching programs, Harper coaches clients to get out of their comfort zones and to do the things that light them up, creating freedom, flexibility and joy.