Sometimes you simply can’t predict your life. Earlier this year, I was living in Austin and writing my second book. Now I live in Denver and have a role as Chief Marketing Officer for a company in a completely different field. It was a surprise to everyone—including myself.
But in hindsight it makes perfect sense. As I wrote in Professional Destiny, you have to follow the signs and when they all line up and point in a certain direction—it’s time to morph and change. Luckily, after years of practice, I’m beginning to get this lesson down! When my former colleague, Katherine Ott (now CEO of SlimGenics), called me months ago to discuss a “business opportunity,” I, of course, thought it had to do with books—my books to be precise. I had left my marketing and advertising career almost two years before and didn’t have any immediate plans to go back. So my initial thought of her offer to run the marketing team was “that’s really nice, but no.”
Funny how no’s can turn into yes’s!
Sooner than I expected, I noticed how I had started to miss being “in the fray.” My life as an author and consultant was very satisfying—and calm. I loved Austin, but I’d lived in Colorado before and was happy there, so that wouldn’t be too traumatic. Plus, there were several people on the marketing team that I’d worked with twelve years ago, so in a sense the band was getting back together. And the kicker was that SlimGenics is a company dedicated to helping people change their life for the better. In a real and sustainable way. And this is something that drives me.
But the greatest thing about the change, I discovered after arriving here. When you’re doing something meaningful, you can’t help but being inspired. And then you meet more inspiring people. It all starts to build upon each other—in an entirely new way than I’d experienced before. I’m sharing with you a short video of a dynamic and compelling person I met once I came on board. It’s about his personal journey in weight loss. I met Jeff my very first week while I was in counselor training class trying to soak up everything I could about the SlimGenics program. He came in to share his perspective of what it was like to lose 110 pounds and we were all… mesmerized. Watch his story and I’m sure you will be too.
Jeff told me once that helping people improve their lives by helping them lose weight was his Professional Destiny. He said, “I can’t believe I get to wake up in the morning and do work that inspires people.” Watch out—doing this kind of thing is addictive and contagious, but it’s one of those natural highs that I highly recommend.
The following is an article that I was invited to contribute to More.com about my reinvention from advertising executive into author of Professional Destiny.
Many of us have achieved success but find ourselves yearning for fulfillment. For me, an uncomfortable sense that something was “missing” in my life was a turning point that led me to write a book devoted to the topic of purpose and how it relates to your working life. The following excerpt from Professional Destiny®—Discover the Career You Were Born For, explains how my own personal story of reinvention began…
“I reached a pivotal turning point during my mid-thirties. I remember a distinct moment when I was sitting on the porch at my house in Boulder, Colorado, looking across the street at the stunning Flatiron mountains thinking, “to everyone else I look like I have it all: two beautiful daughters, a good husband, friends, a great career, high income, a wonderful house and excellent health—yet deep down I am completely miserable.”
Something was missing inside.
It was at that time that I began to yearn to move from a life of success to a life of significance.”
This moment on my porch in Boulder began my search for my “professional destiny.” Although I was successful by all outward measures, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something bigger I was meant to do. I had a purpose to fulfill and needed to find it. The search became my mission. It took several years (with a few detours along the way!) for me to transition from a marketing and advertising executive to an author, speaker and coach. But that poignant moment marked the beginning of a wonderful, challenging and fulfilling journey. It was my time of rediscovery and reinvention.
This story was originally published on More.com
I became fascinated by the idea that there’s an “ideal career” for everyone, but only a small percentage of us manage to find it. I came to realize that for many, true fulfillment only comes after some period of disappointment or disenchantment—and I had mine on the porch. I started questioning people to see if I could find any common traits among those who had a real passion for their work and discovered that the most highly motivated and fulfilled were those who were making use of their natural gifts. In effect, they were working in the career they were born for. For these people, work isn’t about money or title. It’s about satisfaction, empowerment, feeling energetic about their work, making an impact, fully exercising a talent and inspiring others.
The journey is not for the faint of heart. It may mean leaving a familiar sense of security and stability. It may mean leaving behind an impressive title or professional identity. Almost always, it means venturing into the unknown. But if your days become routine and you find yourself in a position that saps your spirit, the move to energizing, fulfilling work is well worth it. There is a difference. A job is something we do to earn a living, our “professional destiny” is a mighty undertaking that challenges us, taps into our creative energy and reawakens our spirit. Our passion and creativity are ignited. If we’re not feeling it today, perhaps it’s a call for reinvention!
I’ve been thrilled to receive so many positive reactions to my first book, Professional Destiny. One of the comments I hear most often is that the subject matter is incredibly timely since so many people are rethinking their careers or dealing with change that’s been thrust upon them.
When I wrote Professional Destiny my goal was to inspire and motivate others to rediscover their natural talents and choose satisfying and meaningful work. My hope is that more people might find the confidence they need to launch themselves into “the career they were born for” — and find out more about the joys, fears, obstacles and tests they can expect along the way. To that end I’m pleased to offer this special:
Buy Two and Get a Signed Copy Free!
This is how it works: Buy two copies of Professional Destiny at Amazon.com or bn.com (Barnes and Noble) by December 20th and I’ll send you a third copy–signed and personalized–for free. You’ll even qualify for free shipping at both sites! All you have to do is forward a copy of your Amazon or Barnes & Noble email receipt to: email@example.com. Be sure to include the name and address to whom you’d like me to send the book along with special instructions (if any) of how you’d like the book personally inscribed. I will send it via ground delivery upon receipt, so it will arrive in time for the holiday. (Remember, it’s only possible for me to sign the third book that I send, not the first two copies shipped directly from Amazon or B&N.) Remember, the sooner you purchase the books and forward the receipts, the sooner your friend or family will receive the signed book. All receipts must be received by December 20th at the latest, to ensure Christmas delivery.
I deeply I appreciate your wonderful, ongoing support for Professional Destiny, and I wish you and your families a joyous holiday season.
It’s about time to don the cap and gown. Starting next month, many new graduates will receive their diplomas and venture out from campus life to pursue their Professional Destinies. But do they really know what to do? And what to expect? For most graduates, the answer is a big, resounding—no!
Some, if they’re anything like me, compromised and picked the wrong major (I chose economics, and promptly disregarded almost everything I studied to become a marketer and author).
Some picked a major they’re actually interested in, but don’t have a clue how to apply it in the unfamiliar, grown-up working world.
And some—the lucky ones—got it completely right and can’t wait to start their perfect new career (yes, they have to make the rest of us look bad!).
Still, many because of the economy may be tempted to take the very first job that comes their way. Here’s why that might not be the best life choice.
Steve Jobs (who we must say has experienced a degree ofsuccess in his profession) told students at his commencement speech address at Stanford University:
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
This is great advice, but can be downright unnerving. What if you don’t know the right next step? What if the whole thing just looks daunting, overwhelming and formidable? How do you gain the self awareness, confidence and plan of action to move forward?
Almost every day I get a note from college students and recent graduates who have benefitted from reading Professional Destiny (and some who give it as a gift to their parents!). They say things like:
“Thank you for writing this book and for explaining in a concise, organized manner the jumbled mess inside of my head. I feel as if I can now move forward. Eureka! Sweet victory.”
So in the spirit of helping our new grads relieve career anxiety and make the big transition into adult life, we are offering a special Professional Destiny Graduation promotion—
Order Professional Destiny between now and May 31st direct from the publisher and save 20% using this discount code: 4BH9PQ56. (Also available through Amazon at retail price of $14.95)
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Eilene Zimmerman, a journalist who writes for many national publications including the New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and FORTUNE Small Business. This interview was for her personal blog, takingmyownadvice.com, which is a warm and engaging chronicle of her journey through transition, as a mother and soon-to-be ex-wife, as she avidly seeks a career and financial education.
Here is an excerpt of our discussion as she quizzed me about my experiences and the Professsional Destiny approach:
“Here it is April 1st and it’s no joke, I can’t figure out if I really need to talk to a coach. I’m torn, probably, because I spoke last week with Valerie Hausladen, and that felt like a coaching session in and of itself. Of course it wasn’t, it was an interview about her new book, Professional Destiny: Discover The Career You Were Born For. Her take-away is this: ‘Anyone can make a change at any time.’ But she also realizes change takes time. Her book is about transitions, something I’m interested in myself, as I’m in transition at this very moment.
Hausladen’s story is anything but straightforward, and that’s the rub. Making changes in your life can be tough, can take a while, and the path isn’t always linear…
Hausladen hadn’t changed her life overnight–it took a decade. She had always wanted to write a book and finally did it. She became a coach and started her own management consulting firm–Edge Communication Group in Austin.
She’s not suggesting that people up and quit their well-paying (or, in this economy, even their not-so-well-paying) jobs, but she is saying take that first step. ‘If you can’t leave your job, start doing one or two things a day towards what you really want to do. Connect with others in the industry where you want to be, get some more information about changing jobs or careers, ask for resources. Just do something towards that goal every day,’ she says. The first step–whatever it is–doesn’t have to be right, says Hausladen. It just has to BE. You have to take it and then if it’s wrong, you learn from it. But many of us are almost paralyzed by the choices we have–or think we have. You have to pick something or you’ll never pick anything.
Even if you haven’t worked in fifteen years and your teaching credential has long since expired, or the last time you worked in HR they didn’t have computers, don’t be discouraged. Maybe start by volunteering. Or by simply going online and researching the industry. Calling a school to see what that nurse practitioner program entails. Etc.
Maybe it sounds just a little corny when Hausladen says, ‘Take the first step and the next one will show itself.” But she’s right–you just can’t see the whole destination yet. In time though, with a little luck and hard work, you (and me) will.’”
To read Eilene’s full post, including more details of my personal transition, click here.
Eilene Zimmerman is a journalist based in San Diego, Calif. who writes about a variety of topics, including business, social and political issues and family life. Her work has been published in national magazines and newspapers including The New York Times, Glamour, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, FORTUNE Small Business, CNNMoney.com, CBS MoneyWatch.com, Wired, Harper’s, Salon.com, Slate.com, Psychology Today and others.
Once a month she writes the “Career Couch” column in the Sunday New York Times Business section.
A ship in harbour is safe,
but that is not
what ships are built for. —William Shed
Following your Professional Destiny is like a ship setting sail on an open sea. It’s a great adventure. To reach your destination requires preparation, guts and a strong commitment. You must be willing to journey into the open sea, beyond the safe harbor of your current surroundings. This requires moving past comfort and complacency. Confident that you are the captain of your ship, you can determine and adjust your course even when outside forces affect your journey. You have a compass, your inner guidance, to direct you. If there’s a storm raging and drama all around you, it may be momentarily drowned out and you’ll likely be tossed around—but that is temporary. With your ship in good working order and your crew (or people who support you) in place you’ll weather the storm and arrive at an exciting new destination. Here are six tips to help you on your way to finding your Professional Destiny:
Prepare yourself for the journey. Like a true professional, you need to practice your gift every day. To do this you must be fit, rested and have your physical and mental capacities about you.
Trim down to the essentials. Make sure your mind and body are fit for the task in front of you. You must have the stamina, strength and essentials that you need—but only the things you need. Leave all the extra weight behind.
Get focused and determined. Growth is a journey, and on any journey you will encounter unforeseen obstacles. Your ability to overcome these barriers will determine whether you succeed. It takes complete dedication, a whatever-it-takes mindset.
Overcome the fear of moving into unknown territory. You might have to struggle when you venture into something new. Worst of all, you don’t know what’s out there. Your mind tells you maybe it’s better to stay right where you are in the known and comfortable. Abandoning your vision seems like the safer, more logical choice, but it comes at a tremendous and incalculable price.
Be responsible. Realize that you are the driver of your life and you have the ability to respond to each situation. Take ownership. Steer the ship. You cannot take a hands-off approach and expect to become a master of your gift.
Dare to be remarkable. If you pattern yourself after others, you will be like others and consequently will be… ordinary. The people who show an absolute conviction to make it, who pick themselves up when they fall, who fully invest their effort, time and energy, are the ones who accomplish extraordinary results.
Do not expect the journey to be short. It never is. You can have the destination in mind, but the journey will take you in directions you never imagined going. Looking back you will see that these were places you needed to go. They were experiences you needed to have, or lessons you needed to master, to prepare you for your destiny—the career you were born for. When considering whether to set sail into new waters, remember a ship isn’t built to stay in the harbor—and neither are we.
One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
Whenever we’re in the midst of transformation, we can expect to be uncertain. We are leaving behind the old and preparing for the new. This blog post, an excerpt from my book, Professional Destiny, is the next installment of last week’s discussion about Moving Through the Void.
“Get comfortable with uncertainty—it’s the time of our greatest opportunity. A time when all possibilities are open to us. If we hold our vision and resolve to take a step toward it each day, we can be assured that great uncertainty only lasts for a while. This too shall pass.
Oftentimes even when we start our journey, our fear of failing returns and our hope of finding our purpose fades. We have no proof that things will turn out the way we want so we are hesitant, or even unwilling, to take the risk. Sometimes it takes a great deal of pain to get us motivated. Our fearful beliefs immobilize us and slowly but surely kill our spirit. We can feel ourselves being drawn back to the comfort of familiar territory—even though we haven’t been happy there for a long time. We become more anxious and wonder if we are crazy for wanting to do this.
Sometimes fear can be good. It can motivate us into action, especially if we fear our situation will get worse if we don’t act now. But it is not good when it paralyzes us from moving forward. This is the point when we look into the unknown, feel our fear, take a deep breath and step forward anyway. Do it even if you’re scared.
If you are willing to do the thing you are afraid to do, you often do not have to. Face the situation fearlessly and watch it dissipate.
Most things we worry about never actually happen. So worrying is an unproductive emotion that drains our energy and creative forces. Sometimes we just need to find humor in our fears.
The longer we stay in an unfulfilling and unchallenging situation, the more resigned we become—and the more we risk losing our individuality, unique gifts and edge.”
It’s essential to catch ourselves when we feel the urge to stay complacent. While change can involve letting go of things that are familiar, the cost of settling in an unfulfilling situation may greater than we originally think. So, while uncertainty might not feel good at the moment—get comfortable—it can open our eyes to things we wouldn’t normally see and may turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
The first step toward making a change in your life, or achieving anything truly important to you, is setting a vision. That means getting crystal clear on what you want. A strong vision motivates you to move forward toward your destination, even when you don’t quite know how to get there. And, it keeps you from bailing on your dream the moment things get tough. The following is an excerpt from Professional Destiny about how to set a vision…
“All greatness starts with a vision. You have to see your end game in order to get there. A strong vision is the building block for everything, and without it we can’t possibly achieve mastery in our talent or profession.
Have you ever heard of an Olympian who didn’t first dream of going to the Olympics?
Here’s why we need a vision:
Having a strong vision inspires and guides us to where we want to be, and helps us make decisions. If you clearly set a vision, you won’t be distracted and you won’t wander aimlessly. If you get off track temporarily, it will be easier to remember your vision and get back on your path.
A clear vision and sense of purpose motivates you. There is no other way to generate the tireless source of energy that you’ll need to accomplish your task. And you will need a tireless source—because embarking on your journey is a challenging task. It is a perilous journey where you encounter a series of tests, trials and setbacks. Difficulties and barriers are guaranteed to pop up along the way. There is no free lunch when you are pursuing your dream. And the bigger your dream, the bigger the challenges you can expect. However, if your vision is strong enough, you will view barriers as something to cross over, not as something that blocks your way. You see the end state and you have the motivation to pick yourself up after a setback in order to get there. Without a vision, you’ll most likely stop.
What makes a vision strong? A great vision is a clear statement of your purpose. It is:
Something you honestly believe
A strong vision is something you can remember in a moment’s notice; it is an image you can call up on demand. It is a declaration of what you want to accomplish. It represents your deepest, most authentic goals and interests.
Most of all, a great vision is a vivid description of your desired end state. It creates a picture in your mind of the future you want.”
I’m always thrilled when I hear of someone who gained a new perspective from reading Professional Destiny—and last week was a big week for that! First, we heard the story of Diane LeBleu, and then Pete Hayes sent me a link to his blog, Phayes Two, where he had written about his experience. I consider this one of the greatest honors an author can have, and I’m delighted to share Pete’s inspiring story of how he gained the vision of his professional (and personal) destiny. Here’s how he tells it…
“When I left a senior executive position at a Fortune 500 company this past summer, I had a lot of thinking to do. It was clear that I wasn’t interested in jumping right back into the corporate world, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to nail down a vision of my future.
Good thing I met with Valerie Hausladen, former president of Tocquigny, plus head of Enfatico’s Austin office. She’d recently published her book Professional Destiny and was willing to talk about it over lunch with me. And the timing was perfect, because I was headed to New Mexico for backpacking the following week. Sitting in my tent in pouring rain for several days, I literally waded through her book, making notes and doing the exercises she suggested. Shazaam. I had my vision for my professional (and personal) destiny. It put my radar on alert so that when the opportunity to join Chief Outsiders rolled around, I was able to recognize it as a perfect fit with my goals.
So have a look. Read about Valerie here on her blog. And here in the Austin American-Statesman this week (a great read!). Thanks Valerie, on behalf of those like me who’ve been helped by your book, and those soon to be!
Thanks Pete and all others who have shared their experiences. If you have a Professional Destiny story to tell, please email me through the contact form on this site—I’d love to hear from you!
Professional Destiny® is about finding the career you were born for. I've created this site to help you in your pursuit. Here, you'll find excerpts from my book, as well as new ideas and stories to help you make the most of your natural gifts. We're a community, so please join the conversation!