BY ERIN EWART
2019 is turning out to be a year of big personal and professional change – maybe more than I bargained for!
On the professional front, we’ve recently updated our name to Careers for Social Impact, which I’m incredibly excited about. We launched a new Self-Study version of our Job Search Bootcamp program earlier this year, and we’re in the midst of growing our team and hiring additional coaches to help us expand our impact and work with more clients.
On the personal front, our family welcomed a new baby in March (hi Kieran!). And after five years in Seattle, my husband and I have decided to relocate back to the east coast to be closer to our extended family. We’ll be heading back to New York City in August.
I have many conflicting emotions about this decision. Our time in Seattle has included so many personal and professional milestones: during our time here we got married, bought our first house, had two kids, and both launched new careers. It has been a good chapter in our lives, to say the least! It will be hard to leave so many wonderful clients and contacts behind, and also great to be closer to friends and family who know us so well.
And while we believe this is the right decision for us, we have had, and continue to have, lots of doubts and questions about making this move. Is this the right call for our careers, and our family? Will we regret it? Are we crazy for giving up the lifestyle we have in Seattle for something unknown and potentially worse (and definitely harder, as anyone who has lived in NYC understands!)?
We don’t know. But we do know that this feels like the right move for us right now, and that we are willing to take a chance to try it out. Could we fail spectacularly and end up throwing in the towel and needing to move again? It’s definitely a possibility, and something we understand we may need to confront.
But unless we give this a try, we’d always wonder “what if?” And one thing I’ve learned through experience is that living with regret is no fun. So we are returning to NYC, with two kids in tow. Please keep your fingers crossed for us, and let me know if you have any survival tips! 🙂
All joking aside, managing all these changes has given me an extra dose of empathy for our clients who are navigating career transitions and trying to make big decisions about their futures, all while managing the day to day needs of work, life, and family.
It’s also reminding me of some of the core lessons I try to share with clients who are going through career transition, and that I often need to be reminded of myself:
1. With all change comes risk (and also opportunity)
Pretty much all change is accompanied by a side of fear. For me this has manifested as terrifying thoughts that this move could undo all the hard work I’ve done over the last five years to build this business that I love. I also worry that growing our team will turn out to be a huge mistake. I feel the urge to listen to that voice that tells me I should stay right here in my comfort zone, where I’ve been successful.
And yes, it’s true the business could slow down as a result of this move. But it could also grow in ways I’m not even thinking of yet. And yes, expanding the team could turn out to be a bad decision – or it could give me just the right balance of time with clients, time with my family, and time to pursue new opportunities that I’m looking for.
The reality is, I have no idea what will happen until I try. And that’s true of any change. No matter how much due diligence you do, you can’t know what something will really be like until you try it. We all have to make the best decisions we can with the information we have, and none of us can predict the future.
No matter what happens as a result of these changes, I’m confident I will learn something valuable in the process, even if it’s that I need to go in a different direction. We tend to focus on the potential downsides of change, but there are always upsides too, even if that means learning what we don’t want so we can steer clear in the future.
2. Feel the fear and do it anyway
Even if you feel sure you’re making the right decision, it will probably still be scary. You will have moments where you doubt yourself and freak out that you are about to ruin your life (it’s not just me who does this, right?!).
To combat this, I like to think about the worst case scenario. What is the worst possible thing that could result from this change? And what would you do if that happened? Really go there and think it through, all the way through. Play that scenario out until the end.
Once you’ve actually forced yourself to confront your biggest fears, they often lose some of their power. It can be hard to do this on your own, so processing these thoughts out loud with a friend, partner, or coach, or journaling them to get out of your own head can really help.
Does confronting the worst case mean you won’t be afraid? Of course not! But it helps to know that no matter what happens, you have a plan B and you will be ok.
3. Seek out supporters, and accept their help
With any major change you make, there are always going to be some people who think you’re making a bad decision. They will be skeptical and point out all the downsides and risks, which you already know all too well.
But try not to listen to the haters – instead, find the champions. The people in your life who will support you no matter what, who will listen to your doubts and encourage you to take a chance anyway if it’s what you believe is the right thing for you.
As we’ve shared our plans, we’ve encountered plenty of people who just don’t understand why we would make this move, and who plainly think we’re making a mistake. And those conversations always plant seeds of doubt.
But we’ve also talked with friends who have made similar moves and have inspired us that we can do it too, and family members who are so excited to have us close by. Those conversations always leave us energized and back on track.
If you don’t have enough supporters in your life already, go find some. Seek out people who have made a similar transition to the one you’re looking to make – whether it’s a career change, or a cross-country move with two kids 🙂 Talk to them and hear their stories about how it was for them, and what they learned.
These people who have gone before you will often be your best advocates and supporters, because they have been in your exact shoes and they have come out the other side. They will want to help you find your way, so let them! Take the time they offer you, ask them your questions, and say yes to their offers to make introductions. You won’t regret it.
So, off we head on our next adventure, with no idea what the future holds. It feels exciting and terrifying in equal measure, like most big life changes. What’s comforting to me right now is that I truly believe that when making these big life decisions like where to live or what job to take, there aren’t really “good” or “bad” decisions – there are just decisions. No matter what happens, we will take something from the experience, learn from it, and adjust.
I share all this with the hope that if you are facing some big questions in your life right now, you’ll know that it’s totally normal to grapple with a lot of uncertainty and self-doubt. We all do, including me. The challenge is to find the courage to move forward, even when you are unsure, instead of staying stuck.
I’ll report back from the other side of this move and let you know how it goes. And in the meantime, rest assured that even though I’ll be in a different physical location, I’m not going anywhere. I’ll continue to work with clients in Seattle and across the country as I already do, and I’ll be here if and when you need me.