Feeling Stuck in Life? Try an Ideas Adventure

Feeling Stuck in Life? Try an Ideas Adventure

“I learned that it was in hard times that people usually changed the course of their life; in good times, they frequently only talked about change. Hard times forced them to overcome the doubts that normally gave them pause. It surprised me how often we hold ourselves back until we have no choice.”—Po Bronson, from his book What Should I Do With My Life?

I made the decision to change careers just hours after suffering my second miscarriage in a year.

I’d talked about my career frustrations for years, but it wasn’t until I literally had death staring me in the face that I found the courage to make a decision.

I’ve interviewed dozens of career changers, and found similar circumstances. Brian Clark waited until he almost died from a head wound. My friend Larry Warrenfelz made his leap after six rounds of cancer, two amputations, and a brain-stem stroke.

I want to spare you the agony of feeling you can’t change until life gets that bad.

It was this idea that led me to start the No Regrets Career Academy. If I could prevent just one person from having to go through a major trauma en route to their career shift, that was well worth the effort for me.

What I discovered once I started coaching clients surprised me. (more…)

The Simple Secret to Getting Ahead

I’ve been trying to decide who to give $7.5 million to.

The money is for a new synthetic biology project I’m managing as part of my Air Force reserve work. There are a lot of things that drive me crazy about continuing to work in the government, but I still love awarding big sums of money to innovative scientists trying to push the edge of our knowledge.

Programs like this attract the very best scientists in the country. Most grants are on the order of $1 million. Getting $7.5 million completely transforms your career and reputation.

As you might imagine, it’s not an easy decision. The chances of ultimately getting selected for funding are roughly 2.5%. In an extremely competitive field like this, the difference between success and failure often comes down to something small.

Leading this effort gave me a big picture view of competition and an objectivity I don’t always enjoy. All of a sudden I realized my own approach to getting help and getting ahead was less than stellar. I bet yours is too.

These lessons learned will be useful for anyone who thinks they have to tackle every big challenge alone (ummm, overachievers, I mean you).

But if you’ve ever toyed with the idea of starting your own business, either on the side or as a full-time replacement for a job you’re eager to escape, for goodness sake, don’t skip this post (or the webinar announcement at the end of it). (more…)

3 Lessons for Would-Be Entrepreneurs from Successful Quitters

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Sumitha Bhandarkar.

Admit it — every time you have a conversation with friends about successful entrepreneurs, you secretly daydream that someday they will be talking about you.

Sure, you’re currently in a regular job just like them, but you know you are destined for more.

You feel it in your guts that someday you will break out of the shackles and strike out on your own. You will find a way to turn your dreams and brilliant ideas into a spectacular success that people can’t stop talking about.

Is it time, though? How do you know when to give up the comfort of your regular job and take the plunge?

I wrestled with that very question for two years. And then, last month, I gave up my promising career with a six figure salary to start something on my own. It was without a doubt the hardest decision I’ve ever made.

And I haven’t looked back.

The thing is, you can never be 100% sure it’s going to work out. There’s never going to be a perfect time to quit.

What you can do however, is take a long, hard, look at those who have tried this before you. And notice the subtle differences in how those who are successful at striking out on their own approach this decision compared to those who fail. These differences raise some important questions. If you answer them honestly you’ll have a clear idea of whether it’s time for you to strike out on your own, and if not, what you need to do to get there.

Ready to give it a try? (more…)

How to Pay Down Big Debt Without Resorting to Ramen

Editor’s note: Guest post by Joan Otto

If you simplify the advice of most financial advisors, it goes something like this: Pare your budget down to the very essentials. Use the rest of the money to pay off your debt. Then you can do all sorts of things.

It’s pretty good advice, to a point.

Lots of pretty famous people share versions of the same philosophy. You know what it looks like, too. In its extreme, it’s eating ramen and driving a car that’s held together with duct tape, prayers and plenty of dirt. It’s no vacations; it’s not even driving 30 miles to a relative’s house for Christmas so you can save on gas.

Done in moderation, this philosophy is great. But when you’re trying to pay off what I call BIG Debt – like I am – moderation is key, and extremism is unlivable. My husband and I do share a pretty awful car (our only vehicle). We don’t take extravagant vacations, and we try to be reasonable with our travel.

But we’re two years into what looks like a six-year battle to pay off almost $90,000 in credit-card and loan debt. And that means that, yes, I prefer to eat something other than cheap noodles occasionally in that time.

So we compromise. We’re not lobster, but we’re not ramen, either. What we’re not willing to compromise on, though, is our debt-payoff schedule. We have a dollar amount above the minimums that we aim to hit every month. Sometimes, there are hurdles that prevent that, but we definitely try.

But what about when money is tight? (more…)

How to Find Out What You’re Really Worth

When I decided to leave the military and science at the same time, I had no idea how to put a price tag on future work.

A friend offered to put me in touch with a large company who specialized in hiring former military to give me an idea of what I might be worth. Having no better method, I sent the guy my resume and agreed to meet over lunch.

He didn’t waste any time. He told me, “The first thing you have to do is prepare yourself that you won’t make as much money as you did when you worked for the government.”

I think my mouth actually hung open. I’d always been led to believe that contractors made a lot more money than government employees. My heart began to sink.

But he wasn’t done giving me advice. It got worse.

“The second thing you have to realize is that the longer you’ve been away from your government job, the less valuable you are.”

That’s when I got angry. (more…)

Is Your Career Making You Schizophrenic?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Chris Lappin.

You’re going around in circles.

One day thinking one thing, the next changing your mind.

You’re not completely unhappy with your job, but you’re not exactly happy either.

It pays the bills and lets you sleep soundly, but there’s this nagging voice saying you could be doing something much more worthwhile and fulfilling. You secretly yearn to fly solo and follow your dream, but just the thought of trading in a secure pay check for a future with no guarantees makes your stomach tighten and brings a tidal wave of negative questions.

Can you make it work? Have you got the skills? Are you too young? Too old?

What if it doesn’t work? What will other people think? Who are you to think you can do this?

When you’re feeling brave, you listen to your heart. What if it did work? Others have, so why shouldn’t you? This would be the making of you. Who cares what other people think! Of course you can do this.

You smile and feel alive. No more boss. No more achieving someone else’s goals. No more boring, mundane work, day-in and day-out.

But then your head chimes in again. Don’t be stupid! You’d be kissing goodbye security, a steady income, holiday pay, sick pay. And what about all that stress and worry? You could lose everything.

And so it goes back and forth. Like you’re two completely different people, trapped inside the same mind.

While this exhausting argument rages, you stay with your feet firmly entrenched in your uncomfortable comfort zone. (more…)