CommitmentNow.com: You have written a book, The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention: Successful Survival Skills for Any Economy. What is career reinvention and when should a woman seek to reinvent her career?
Pamela Mitchell: Career Reinvention is taking your skills and talents and your passions and desires and using them to choose a career which fulfills you personally and in your life.
There are two kinds of Career Reinvention: Self-Initiated Career Reinvention; and Forced Career Reinvention. Self-initiated Career Reinvention is great; Forced Career Reinvention is not so great.
I look at Career Reinvention as a type of life insurance. Companies don’t make any guarantees anymore, and it’s important for an individual to be able to reinvent her career.
CommitmentNow.com: What is the first step to take when seeking to reinvent your career?
Pamela: The first step is to come up with a vision for what you want out of your life. You can’t craft a career until you know what you most want from your life. Ask yourself, How do I want to live? And then ask, What jobs fit into that lifestyle?
CommitmentNow.com: How can listening to your body help you make a career decision?
Pamela: Our minds are often filled with what society has told us. Childhood experiences, friends and family members have all influenced us to a great degree. Our minds are “logical,” but our egos don’t like to be threatened or to disturb the status quo.
Our bodies, on the other hand, always tell us the truth. For example, when we’re scared, our hearts race, and our palms sweat. We might try to change that feeling, but there’s no denying it.
I advise my clients to tune into their bodies to get real information about what they’re feeling, and then to use their minds to try to figure it out.
I went through this myself. For a while, I lived in New York City and worked on Wall Street. After a while, every time I heard a siren, I felt tense, which, if you’ve ever lived in New York City, you know that means I was tense very often! I finally tuned into that physical reaction and used my mind to ask, How can I stop being so tense? I realized it was my body telling me that it was time to leave New York. Our bodies give us signals and we need to use our minds to make sense of those signals.
CommitmentNow.com: In your book, you discuss The Road Less Traveled. What is the Road Less Traveled and why should we take it?
Pamela: The Road Less Traveled is the unexpected path. We should consider it because often whatt we really want and desire is down that road – even though society tells us to stay where we are.
Few people have the courage to take the Road Less Traveled, but it should be explored since it can frequently lead us to happiness.
CommitmentNow.com: Part of career reinvention is letting go of your old identity. How difficult is that?
Pamela: It is very difficult. I created the Reinvention Institute for that very reason; to offer support to people who are trying to let go of an old identity and move on to a new one.
When I was living in New York City, I had a high-powered job on Wall Street, which I did not like at all! Even after I got up the nerve to leave that job, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I started temping. I remember one day I was at a temp job photocopying documents, and I felt so sad! Just a few months earlier I had a high-paying job; I was an Ivy League graduate with an MBA, and here I was making copies! But then I realized that I still had the same skills and talents that I’d had on Wall Street and that I could use them in my next career.
When you identify so closely with what you were – your old identity – you stay stuck. In order to allow yourself to do something different, you must remove that old identity, and part of the process is to realize that you create that identity; that your skills and talents are within you, not within that identity.
Career Reinvention is not quick or easy – but the rewards are out there.
CommitmentNow.com: If a woman is looking to change careers, should she seek advice from family and friends?
Pamela: When you make a change, it triggers a reaction in people close to you, so you need to be judicious in choosing whom to turn to for support.
Until you are clear about what you want to do and that you are going to do it, you should only share your plans in the safest or spaces. Talk to one or two friends or family members – but be prepared for resistance.
When I decided to leave New York and move to Florida – without knowing anyone there or having a job lined up – my mom was afraid for me and tried to discourage me from making this move. It takes time for people to accept our changes.
I suggest that when you are strong and clear about your goals, you can talk about them freely. Until that time, it’s probably best to keep your discussion to a few close people.
With that in mind, at the Reinvention Institute, we’ve created a “safe space” for participants to discuss their reinventions. It’s a group of like-minded individuals who seek to support each other.
CommitmentNow.com: What was your own Career Reinvention like?
Pamela: My Career Reinvention started with a job on Wall Street. For eight years my career and education were tied up with a goal of working on Wall Street. However, once I got there, I realized I didn’t like it. I ignored that feeling for a while, but it started to kill my soul. I finally quit – without an idea of what to do next! At that time, I looked for a book or organization to help guide me, but everything I found spoke of climbing a ladder in an existing industry – nothing about climbing a new ladder. I gave it a lot of thought, and decided to work in the entertainment industry. I had found something that made me happy! After ten years of that, I was ready for something new; for a second reinvention. I wanted to help people. And that’s when I came up with the idea of the Reinvention Institute.
As people, we continue to evolve. What works at one stage in our life, may not work in another. It is an important life skill to be able to reinvent yourself at different stages of your life.
CommitmentNow.com: Where can we learn more about career reinvention?
Pamela: Visit our website at http://www.reinvention-institute.com/.
Former entertainment exec turned coach Pamela Mitchell is founder and CEO of The Reinvention Institute. She is a popular and in-demand speaker who gives talks around the country to individuals, corporations and industry groups who are interested in learning fresh strategies for navigating in the midst of change. As the nation’s premier career reinvention expert, she has appeared on the Today Show, CNN and NPR, and been profiled and quoted in top media publications including The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, More, Men’s Health, Good Housekeeping, Kiplinger’s, Essence and Black Enterprise. She was a columnist for Inc.com, the website for INC. magazine, and is the author of The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention: Essential Survival Skills for Any Economy (Dutton, January 2010), a Harvard Business Review Top Shelf Recommended pick. In addition to being a certified coach, Ms. Mitchell has a BA in Romance Languages from Harvard University and an MBA from the top international business school, Thunderbird.
To purchase The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention, click here.