Category: Career Change/Career Transition

How to Know When Passion Is Knocking On Your Door

I recently responded to a Quora question asking,

“How do you know if you’ve discovered your passion?”

Sometimes you find your passion, and sometimes your passion finds you. But in either case, you’ll be able to hear it knocking by listening for these eight clues:

1. If you’re so engaged in it you lose track of time.

How many times have you been working on something and looked up and saw two hours had passed before you realized it?

What were you doing in those two hours?

2. If you’re energized by it, as opposed to being emotionally and/or physically drained by it.

Now, of course there will be times when you’re tired from working in your passion. But usually it’s a good kind of tired.

Be sure to get your rest though. While hustle is good, you need to make time to re-energize so you don’t burn out.

3. If you’re at peace with it instead of stressed out by it.

This doesn’t mean you won’t ever get stressed while working in your passion. But if there’s far more peace than stress, you’ve probably found your passion.

4. If you’re willing to do it for free.

Don’t misunderstand me. If your passion is something you’re hoping to make a career out of, you definitely need to get paid what you’re worth.

While in the beginning you may need to do some free work to build up your portfolio, you eventually need to start charging for your expertise when there becomes a demand for it.

5. If you forget to eat.

This one is an easy clue for me personally. If I find myself skipping or delaying a meal for something, I know I must really be really passionate about it!

But just like you need enough sleep to be healthy, you also need to maintain a balanced diet to keep your passion productive.

6. If you wake up in the morning looking forward to it.

Since I started working for myself in pursuit of my own passion, I no longer dread Monday mornings.

In fact, I actually look forward to them!

7. When it doesn’t feel like work.

I’m very passionate about my work, but it often doesn’t feel like work. When that happens, sometimes it’s hard for me to take a break from my work.

But again, balance and moderation in everything is what keeps me productive and helps me avoid burn out.

Being a workaholic is not healthy, nor is it necessary. We all need to stop falling for the glorification of workaholism and busyness.

8. OR, when at times it does feel like work.

Even if it does feel like work but you’re willing to persevere and push through the tough times instead of just giving up or quitting when it gets hard, you’ve probably found your passion.

There have been numerous times of challenge in pursuing my own passions, but I never had a desire to give up no matter what the challenge was.

This is the true definition of passion.

Designing Your Life

In addition to (and in overlap of) the above, the authors of Designing Your Life (Bill Burnett and Dave Evans) pose the question,

“What things in your daily routine make you feel all (or most) of the following?”
  • Complete involvement in an activity.
  • Euphoria/joy.
  • A clear idea of exactly what to do and how to do it.
  • Calmness and peace.
  • Time is gone before you know it.

Burnett and Evans refer to this as “flow,” or in other words, total engagement. Flow feels more like play than work, and it includes not being concerned about the outcomes of what you’re engaged in.

Fear of Failure

I consider a lack of concern about the outcomes to be a willingness to fail and to learn from that failure.

But there are some people who allow their fear of failure to put a damper on their passions and they never end up pursuing those passions.

Let’s cut to the chase. The fear of failure will always be there. You just have to decide if your fear of never knowing what would’ve happened is greater than your fear of failure.

I hope it is, because if you let fear of failure win, you’re not only missing out, but so are all the people who could benefit from your passion.

Need help recognizing and pursuing your own passions? Subscribe to my newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan to help get you started!

What You Need to Know to Ensure A Successful Career

As both a career coach and a creative thinker, I’m always brainstorming ways to help my clients be successful in their careers with unique and out-of-the-box strategies.

It’s important to be innovative and unconventional when competition for opportunities is fierce.

It’s the only way to get the attention from the right audience (those who have the opportunities to offer) and to stand out from the competition in a good way.

That’s why I’ve shared posts like:

However, there is some career advice that stands the test of time, but only when it’s put into practice.

The problem is, some people still don’t even know about this timeless advice.

And even if they do, they fail to implement it and then wonder why they’re not having the success they’d like to have in their careers.

Don’t be one of these people!

Career Advice That Never Goes Out of Style

To have a successful career, you have to always work at your career, even when you think your job is secure. (Understand that it rarely is!)

So what is the best course of action and best use of your time? Following these career success strategies that never goes out of style!

1. Keep your resume updated every 6 months, even when you’re not looking for another job.

It’s a lot easier to remember what you’ve done in the past six months than in the past six years.

By then it will be nearly impossible to remember how you impacted the company’s bottom line with each project you worked on.

So, every six months, take an inventory of your most recent on-the-job accomplishments.

Ask yourself how each of your duties, ideas, or efforts made an impact on the bottom line.

  • Did they increase profit or revenue? By how much?
  • Did they decrease spending? By what percentage?
  • Did they save man hours? How does that translate to dollars saved?
  • Did they increase customer satisfaction or decrease customer complaints? By what percentage?
  • Did they make processes more efficient? How much time did this save?
  • Did they boost staff morale? How much did productivity increase with this boost?

Add your accomplishments to your resume each time you update it.

If you do this, you’ll be prepared for three possible scenarios:

  1. When you’re up for a promotion.
  2. When you’re ready to ask for a pay raise.
  3. Or when you need to look for a new job.

There have been times when I’ve been asked for a copy of my resume when I wasn’t even looking for a job, like the times I’ve been hired for a speaking engagement.

When that happens, I’m always glad I’ve got something up-to-date to send them.

(For more details on updating your resume, see my post Why You Should Update Your Resume Every 6 Months.)

2. Find a mentor. 

You should always pinpoint someone in your industry or company you aspire to be like and get to know and learn from that person.

Also, a mentor is something you can negotiate for when you’re offered a job and are negotiating salary and perks.

Asking for a mentor makes you look good because it shows your initiative to learn. It’s a perk that doesn’t cost the company any additional money, and you’ll gain priceless lessons and advice.

3. Serve on committees that match your interests. 

Every company or organization has various committees that need people from different departments to serve on.

Find one that matches your interests and dedicate a reasonable amount of time to it (1 to 4 hours per month).

Doing this will get you out of your daily routine and your everyday surroundings, introduce you to new people in other departments, help you develop your soft skills, and build your resume.

For instance, I have an interest in both sports and international travel.

When I worked in the career center at a university back in North Carolina, I volunteered to serve on a committee that initiated the athletic department’s implementation of the NCAA’s life skills program for college athletes.

I also represented the University of North Carolina’s Exchange Program and served on the Australia Exchange Student sub-committee.

And when I worked in the career center at Vanderbilt University, I partnered with both the Study Abroad Office and the Athletics Department to provide presentations to their students on how to market their unique collegiate experiences to potential employers.

These experiences enriched my career because I got to work with others in areas that fascinated me and I got to develop skills in public speaking and program development.

4. Take advantage of professional development opportunities offered by your employer.

This can include professional association memberships, conferences, in-house professional development programs, etc.

These opportunities also help you build your knowledge, skills, resume, and network.

In fact, there’s a company here in the Nashville that’s hired me to present my program on personal branding to several of their employees.

It says a lot about a company, its culture, and its dedication to the holistic development of their staff to offer such programs to their employees on the company’s dime.

So if your company offers it, take advantage of it of the free self-improvement!

5. Always build your network and maintain professional relationships, even when you’re not looking for a job. 

You’ll benefit from professional relationships whether you stay within the same field throughout your career or if you change industries or start your own business.

And because relationship building takes time, the sooner you start building and maintaining your professional relationships, the more your connections will be willing to assist you when you find yourself in need of their help.

But you have to be realistic about networking. While I’ve had some professional relationships that resulted in immediate career benefits, most have taken years of investment and being of assistance on my part before I fully experienced the benefits.

6. Prepare for a layoff, even if you don’t think one will happen

This goes hand-in-hand with #1 and #5.

You don’t want to find yourself suddenly without a job and having to scramble to write a resume because it’s been 15 years since you’ve last had to write one.

And you don’t want to have any awkwardness when reaching out to your contacts because it’s been WAY too long since you last spoke with them.

Instead, you want to always be prepared with the tools needed to find your next opportunity when the need arises.

Other suggestions to prepare for a layoff:

  • Always have a few months worth of expenses saved up.
  • Develop your transferable skills and your soft skills (i.e. communication skills, presentation/public speaking skills, interpersonal skills, etc.).
  • Develop the skills of an entrepreneur in case you have to (or desire to) work for yourself for a while.

Yes, it’s easier to be short-sighted and just do your job, focusing on the bare minimum and most immediate items on your to-do list.

But investing time and energy into the above strategies will lead to long-term success in your career and will pay off in spades down the road!

If you need help to ensure success in your career, sign up for a complimentary initial consultation by completing the paNASH intake form.

Feeling Trapped in Your Career? Here’s How to Cope (Re-Post)

A few weeks ago I took a mini-vacation down to my favorite area of Florida, Seagrove Beach on beautiful 30A. 

I was anxious to get my paddle board out on the beautiful emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico, but the beach’s warning flags told me I should re-think my plans. 

There was a purple flag indicating dangerous marine life, and a red flag indicating high hazards and strong currents.

So, I improvised and took my board out on Eastern Lake, a rare coastal dune lake that runs under Scenic Highway 30A and eventually feeds into the ocean after a heavy rain or other inflow. 

Because it is a coastal dune lake, Eastern Lake is rather small. And since there hadn’t been a previous heavy rainfall to create an opening to the ocean, the sandy beach served as a barrier between the lake and the ocean.

feeling trapped

Photo source:

Feeling Trapped

feeling trapped

Photo by Lori Bumgarner

I paddled from the beach end (the south end) of the lake where the salt water mixes with the fresh, to the marshy north end where I’m sure some alligators make their home. 

It was only about a mile and a half from the beach barrier to the marsh end of the lake. 

Needless to say, for someone who is used to paddling on rivers that run for hundreds of miles, I felt a bit trapped.

And unlike the ocean, I didn’t have a wide open space to explore, so all I could do was just keep paddling in one big circle around the perimeter of the lake. 

Despite all the beauty surrounding me and the change of scenery from my regular paddle route, the feeling of going around in circles made me frustrated.

The experience of feeling trapped is one I’ve felt more than once in my career. 

Whether it was when I was trapped in a toxic office environment, or when I was restless because I wasn’t working in my purpose.

It’s not a fun place to be, at all (I’m sure you can probably relate).

When faced with these situations, I’ve used various coping mechanisms that have led to changes in my situation for the better.

My paddle around the lake that day reminded me of all the possible ways to cope when faced with the feeling of being trapped in your career. 

7 Possible Ways to Cope — Here Are Your Options:

1. Sometimes we don’t always get what we want when we want it, so be patient. 

This is probably the most difficult option since most people aren’t naturally patient, myself included. 

But, sometimes this is what it takes when certain factors aren’t within your control. All you can do are the things within your control. 

For instance, when doing a job search you can build your network, learn how to market your skills and strengths, conduct informational interviews, apply for jobs, and prepare for interviews. 

After that, it’s out of your hands and you have to be patient while the seeds you’ve sown grow into the right opportunity.

2. Make the best of your current situation. 

Maybe you can’t change your situation right now, but you can change some things about it to make the best of it until another opportunity comes your way. 

Check out my post 8 Ways to Make Your Current Job More Bearable.

3. Just enjoy and be content with and grateful for the beauty of your current place or situation because things will soon change for the better. 

Often my clients are in a period of transition which feels uncomfortable for them. 

I too have been in that same situation. 

Instead of letting it continue to frustrate me, I chose to make the most of that time by learning some new things and doing some really fun, awesome things as well. 

I learned to relish that time because I knew it was a rare opportunity to do so. 

That’s why I encourage my clients to relish periods of transition despite the uncertainty they’re facing. 

The ones who do, are so glad they did, and the ones who don’t, often regret it.

4. Wait to make your move until conditions are more favorable. 

You might have more control than you think, but you have to make sure you’re taking action in both a timely and responsible way. 

When I first started my business, I didn’t immediately leave my full-time job with benefits. Instead, I started taking small steps toward my goal before taking a leap of faith. 

To learn how to make a career risk doable, read my post Don’t Quit Your Daydream (Or Your Day Job).

5. Pay attention to the warning flags. 

Just like I had to pay attention to the beach’s warning flags, you also have to look at the warning flags in your career. 

For example, are you hearing rumors of potential layoffs at your company? 

Is your job at risk of being replaced by the latest technology? 

To know how to best prepare for such a situation, check out my post Want More Job Security? Do This One Simple Thing and also click on the related posts for even more tips.

6. You’ll keep going in circles if you don’t step out of your comfort zone

Once you’ve done some or all of the above, there eventually comes a time when you have to step out of your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. 

How do you do that? Click here to find out.

7. Don’t wait for an opportunity to come open. Make your own opportunity. 

Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and make things happen for your career. 

This could mean combining some of your skills and passions to start your own business. 

Or it could mean proposing a new or different role for you at your current company that better incorporates your strengths and interests, therefore improving the company’s bottom line. A real win-win!

Which Option Is Best For You?

The trick is knowing which option to choose at which time. 

In one of my own career trappings, I waited patiently for the conditions to be right to make my exit and spent that time wisely planning my course of action.

In another situation, I took a leap of faith.

Both coping mechanisms worked for me in those particular situations. But they probably would’ve failed had I taken a leap of faith when it was too early, or had I waited around when I should’ve taken action. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to know which option to choose. And even then it can be difficult to know the best timing for your chosen option. A good career coach can help you determine both.

What’s causing you to feel trapped in your career right now? 

Which option above is speaking to you? 

I invite you to share in the comment box below.

I also invite you to start setting some goals that support the option (or options) that works best for you at this time. 

Learn how to do so by subscribing to my newsletter and receiving a complimentary download of the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

Get Unstuck! How to Know When It’s Time to Invest in a Career Coach

We all eventually find ourselves at a career crossroads at one time or another. We’re either sick of our jobs and itching for something new, or we find ourselves no longer needed in a job we love.

In those times we need some clarity and vision on the next steps of our career path.

In fact, you’ve probably heard that most people change their careers (not just their jobs) SEVEN times in their lifetime. For some of my clients, that number is even higher.

fork in the road

Navigating these career crossroads usually requires the advice and assistance of a career coach. How do you know when it’s time to invest in a career coach?

#1 When you need a job.

The most obvious time is when you’re in the throes of a job search and you’re looking for work related to your experience.

There are a lot of new, unwritten rules of the job search that only career coaching can show you how to maneuver. In fact, if you just rely on the information on the internet, you’re relying on information that’s about as old as the internet itself and is highly outdated.

A career coach can help you learn the new rules of the job search and provide personalized advice specific to your unique situation that no web site can provide.

#2 When you’ve been (or might be) laid off or fired.

“Never assume you’re not at risk of losing your job. Even if your company is growing and promises to be loyal to you. Business is business and things change. If your company doesn’t provide you any outplacement services or career coaching, you may want to invest some severance money into career coaching so you can find your next opportunity quicker and learn how to negotiate a higher salary. Learning such skills will pay for any coaching expenses, and then some.” (from “Want More Job Security? Do This One Simple Thing.”)

You may not need a job, until you lose yours. I’ve written several posts before on job loss.

When you’re forced to find a new job, what I shared in #1 applies in this situation as well. However, there are additional needs when a job loss is involved.

First, there’s a more emotional element that must be tended to – the grief some experience that comes with the loss of a job.

Then, in the case of a firing, there’s need for improvement in certain areas in order to “fire-proof” yourself in the future.

Finally, there’s figuring out what skills you need to update or add to your skillset to make you more marketable in the job market. This is especially true if you’re mid- to late-career and may face potential age discrimination.

#3 When you’re contemplating a career change to another role or industry.

You may find you’re bored with what you’ve been doing and want to explore something new and different.

Career coaching can help you determine what your transferable skills are and what other industries or job functions those skills easily transfer to. It can also teach you how to market those transferable skills so you can open the eyes of recruiters and hiring managers to your potential.

#4 When you want to grow in your career but feel stuck.

“Career coaching isn’t just for leaving your company. If you like where you work, coaching services can also help you advance in your company if that’s your goal.” (from “Want More Job Security? Do This One Simple Thing.”)

You love what you do but you want to see growth. Whether that’s in the form of more responsibility, more money, a bigger title, more purpose, etc.

But what if growth isn’t coming as quickly as you’d like and you feel stuck? Career coaching can provide you an actionable plan to help you grow at a more rapid pace than before.

#5 When you’re wanting to leave your current job to work for yourself.

You’re tired of working your butt off to make someone else rich. Or, you would just like to be able to set your own schedule and have more work-life balance.

Career coaching can help you determine if you have what it takes to go out on your own. It can help you determine if freelancing, consulting, or creating a start-up is the next best step or not.

It can also give you the confidence to do so in the face of the fears you’ll experience when stepping out on your own.

#6 When you’re reentering the job market after an extended leave of absence.

Reentering to the job market can also be just as scary. And, as I mentioned in #1, the rules of the job search may have changed since you last had to find something new.

Career coaching can help you not only explain, but also market your time away as an advantage to an employer.

Are You Facing a Career Crossroads? Is It Time For You to Invest In Some Career Coaching?

“It’s better to already have some career insurance in place if and when an issue arises, than to not have it and wish you did.” (from “Want More Job Security? Do This One Simple Thing.”)

Can you relate to any of the above scenarios? Each has their own unique challenges. Challenges you don’t have to face alone.

paNASH offers a variety of resources and career coaching services to choose from, including:

  • Free blog posts to provide you tips for a successful job search.
  • Affordable video resources available on-demand allowing you to work at your own pace to improve your resume, interviewing skills, and more.
  • Personalized coaching services designed to help you pursue your passions and find work that gives you purpose and opportunities for growth.

To find out more about how you can benefit from career coaching, sign up for a complimentary initial consultation.

Taking this first step could mean the difference between staying stuck in your current work situation or getting unstuck and pursuing your next exciting career endeavor.

What Are The Biggest Career Mistakes You Should Avoid?

The below post was originally published on Quora as a response to the question, “What are the biggest career mistakes to avoid?”

The number one career mistake to avoid is to go into a career someone else is pushing you into, whether that includes parents, spouse, friends, etc.

The number two career mistake to avoid is going into a career just because it pays a lot of money.

In either situation, you’re likely to end up hating your job, resenting those you’re trying to please, and regretting your decision.

Regret Caused by Career Mistakes

As a career coach who works with people who are in career transitions, typically in the middle of their careers, I see a lot of regret.

They come to me looking back on their decisions realizing they were climbing a ladder that was leaning against the wrong wall.

While for most it’s not too late to make a career change, it is more challenging due to more financial responsibilities at that age.

Even if they’re making really good money, they often find that having taken a job just for the money was at the expense of:

  • Doing something they enjoy.
  • Making a positive impact on the lives of others and doing something with meaning and purpose.
  • The time to enjoy the money they’ve been making.
  • Time with their family.
  • The courage to take a risk and make a change to something that fits all of the above but maybe pays a little less.

A Time to Experiment

While you don’t have to start out in your career knowing exactly what you want to do, early career is probably the easiest time to experiment with different jobs to help you discover your passion because at this stage in life you have:

  • The time to try out various jobs/careers and build your career portfolio. It’s easier to work for a place for a year or two and then switch to something else early in the game.
  • The freedom from being responsible for anyone else but yourself. Once you have a mortgage and a family, it’s a lot harder to leave a miserable but good paying job.

But It’s Never Too Late

This doesn’t mean if you made any of the two mistakes listed above in your early career you can’t go back and correct those mistakes or avoid them in mid or late career. You just might have to be a little more creative in your approach.

 You can still experiment in some (or all) of the following ways:

  • Talk to others who are doing what you now want to do and/or have made a career change of their own. Find out how they did it, what challenges they faced, what rewards they gained and what advice they have for someone like you.
  • Take some intro courses on an area that piques your interest. You can do this through local community classes or online classes.
  • Start a side-hustle in your spare time. Don’t worry yet if it will make you money or not. Just see if you enjoy working on it more than you do in your current job. If so, then start brainstorming some ways to monetize it either by offering the same service to a company in need or starting your own company.

The Bottom Line

There’s a lot more I could write about in response to the above question, but it would be a novel. The bottom line is, pay attention to:

  • Your strengths and the things others tell you you’re good at.
  • The things that energize and excite you instead of drain you.
  • The things that give you peace instead of stress you out.
  • Other people who are doing the things you’re interested in. Talk with them. Find out how they got to where they are.

If you pursue those things, they will build upon one another, leading to new opportunities that will eventually make up the whole of your career.

A career you can look back on with satisfaction and without regret.

For more tips on how to pursue your passions in your life and your career, subscribe to my newsletter at and receive a free downloadable 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.