Divorce marks an end – of marriage. Not of you. It is the close of a chapter, but not of a book, and is by no means the conclusion to your story.
We all have choices. Not only with who we choose to love, also with our career, and how we support ourselves. But, most importantly, with how we will leave our indelible mark on the world using the creativity that is uniquely our own. We each have that capacity within our depths.
Second chances are the most sacred of gifts, gifts of opportunity that enable us to right the wrongs of the past. Close a door and open a new one. Experiment.
Yes, we have all made mistakes. But we have learned from them, too. At some point it comes time to throw caution to the wind and be the person we want and are meant to be. Discover our passions. Embrace them. Push our limits. And then go beyond them.
Have you always wanted to dance? Then dance! Have you always wanted to finish college? Go back! Have you always wanted to join the circus? Learn to ride an elephant!
Retooling your career after divorce can be one of the most exciting, yet scary, decisions you can make. However, as in any new venture, the payout often far exceeds the risk involved, the reward of which can be altogether life changing.
Up for the challenge? Here are seven dos and don’ts to help you find the job of your dreams and make going to work feel like the vacation from which you never want to return.
1. Do what you love. If Sunday night has you down or if you wake up Monday morning dreading the day ahead, it is probably time for a change. After all, how can you expect to put forth the energy necessary to be productive when you can hardly summon enough strength to get through your day? Scraping by, doing the bare minimum, and waiting for the clock to strike five, will never put you in a position to realize your potential. Everyone has an innate need to contribute in a meaningful way. The problem is that some of us have a harder time realizing how than others. So be proactive. Consciously and actively pull yourself out of that rut by finding what you love. The first step is always the hardest.
2. Do have a plan. Taking a chance is commendable, but be sure not to neglect your other responsibilities while doing so. Depending on your financial situation, you may need to stay on in your current position or secure another job before fully immersing yourself in a new career. Set a timeline for yourself, with milestones along the way that will each bring you one step closer to meeting your goals. That way you can gage your progress and, if need be, switch gears or move on to another more promising opportunity altogether.
3. Do find a mentor. As you start out, you may feel like a fish out of water. That is why it is important to learn as much as you can from those around you. There are many people willing and happy to share their years of knowledge with you. A mentor is an invaluable resource and will undoubtedly help you grow. So, treat them with respect. Be humble. Be discerning. But, most importantly, be grateful.
4. Do stick to your guns. There will be naysayers, those who will tell you what you should be doing and why. They will say it with authority. They may even tell you that you cannot and will not succeed. Listen, heed the advice, and then make your own informed decision. Do not let anyone break your spirit. You will never know success if you quit. Instead, make an effort to prove them wrong. Those who are truly in your best interest will be happy to eat their words.
5. Do work for free. That is, if you can afford to and the benefits to doing so outweigh the detriments. Experience comes at a premium. To gain the experience you need in a field with which you are unfamiliar it may be necessary to initially work without pay. But, rest assured, you are receiving valuable compensation for your time in the form of knowledge, expertise, connections, and confidence. To put a price tag on such reward would be impossible.
6. Do try your best. Regardless of whether or not you are being paid. Aside from making the most of the opportunity you have been given, you never know when an unpaid apprenticeship or volunteer position will transition into gainful employment. A solid work ethic is perhaps the most valuable trait an employee can demonstrate. Receiving a strong recommendation from someone who describes you as hardworking and conscientious will be valuable to you as your employment search gets underway.
7. Do be patient. Reaching your goals will take time. But if you remain focused, slowly you will begin to see the cumulative effect of your efforts. When you do finally earn your success, you will know the satisfaction of having achieved it through your own diligence, perseverance, and hard work.
But, whatever you do:
1. Don’t be foolish. Taking a risk is one thing. Being irresponsible is another. It is important to be realistic about the goals you set for yourself. If you are 60 years old, perhaps quitting your corporate job to attend medical school is not the best option for you. Be sure there are still plenty of opportunities out there that will more than adequately allow you to utilize and explore the lifetime of talents and expertise you have accrued.
2. Don’t worry. True, you are going out on a limb. But if you have done your homework thoroughly, you should already have a good sense of the challenges you are about to face. Feeling unnecessarily nervous will only serve to impede your progress. Take comfort in the research you have done. Forewarned is forearmed, and, because of your preparation, you are both.
3. Don’t be ashamed. Accepting reduced pay, a subordinate title, or starting over at the bottom might be a necessary step in rebuilding your career. Comparing yourself to contemporaries can likewise be potentially bruising to the ego. Instead, be confident about what you are doing. It takes courage to reinvent oneself and that is certainly worthy of you feeling proud.
4. Don’t get discouraged. There will be setbacks along the way. And it is okay to lick your wounds – at least temporarily. But when you are done, use those setbacks to learn. Then get back up, push forward, and move on.
5. Don’t settle. This is your shot, so take it! It may happen that more enticing opportunities will come along that are not as precisely on point for where you want to be or what you seek to accomplish. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of such options and, if they are not appropriate for you, to summon the courage to pass them by. Keep your eye on the prize.
6. Don’t be disappointed. Not every risk you take will pan out. The only guarantee you can ever have is that you gave it your best shot. Even if you do not meet your goals – this time – focus on what you have gained from the experience. There is a value in every endeavor. It is only a matter of recognizing what it is.
7. Don’t give up. Not without a fight. Divorce may have thrown you for a loop. But, remember this: “It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again.” – Vince Lombardi