Handling Career Transition Without Flipping Your Lid

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“All changes… have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” - Anatole France

On September 14th I ended work with my last corporate client and decided it was time to close the chapter on consulting and move full time into my women’s empowerment and public speaking career.

I spent the past five+ years building a marketing business working with some of the world’s most recognizable brands on pretty cool projects.

“And you’re giving it up?” Yes, yes I am.

You might think that’s nuts, and heck, you wouldn’t be wrong!

We all have to face these kinds of choices, whether you’re a full-time employee, founder or freelancer. Sometimes you’ve exhausted all you can do in one area, and you’re just ready for the next challenge. But most of the time, what do people do? They stay. And they wallow in their misery and watch as depression starts to take hold. Believe me, I know - I used to be that person!

I felt a strong pull to public speaking and performance art two years ago. I began to dip my toe in the waters of getting on stage. That’s when I realized the kind of impact I could make on someone’s life through my speaking. I truly felt in my element. I knew I would be making the transition, but I never felt ready. I was too comfortable consulting. So when my last client told me they’d be transitioning my role to a full-time location dependent role, I saw the opportunity to finally take the leap. I wouldn’t have left if the money kept rolling in, but I also wasn’t about to take a full-time job and upend my life for it.

So with the countdown on, I began to mentally prepare myself for the shift in careers.

I believe that if we don’t have gratitude for the past, we are doomed to keep reliving it. And the more we are stuck in the past and our trauma and regrets, the less present we can be in the here and now. If you’re living in the past you can’t see what opportunities are in front of your two eyes, because your head is always turned looking behind you!

I wrote down everything I could remember from over the past several years of consulting and why I was grateful for it.

  • I thanked god for the steady stream of income

  • the location independent business I’d built

  • the fun projects I’d worked on

  • the amount of travel I’d been able to do

I also made sure to give thanks for the challenging situations:

  • the one client who I only realized years later was short changing me (which completely changed my outlook on fees and helped me immensely when I negotiated rates for new contracts).

  • the late nights finishing “pixel perfect” client presentations (which taught me the value of appearance, and how it’s often overlooked. It also taught me to build better presentations and that directly benefits my new career.)

  • how I’d wasted time with bogus prospective clients (and learned exactly what to look out for and how to sidestep them in the future.)

  • the occasional fears about money and late checks (which taught me not to be afraid to speak up and threaten to stop work if I wasn’t paid. I never worked for free because of it.)

  • the client who thought they had free license to come onto me (which taught me that lines at work can seem blurry and I needed to learn how to set clear boundaries and assert myself when necessary.)

  • the occasionally difficult client requests (wherein I learned that you teach your clients how to treat you. I learned to set clear boundaries and expectations that served my business for years. I was one of the few consultants or freelancers I knew who wasn’t burning out trying to fulfill tons of last minute requests. And, I was paid better).

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If you cannot find gratitude for everything that happened, you will be doomed to repeat it until you can see how everything is not in your way, but on the way to living your inspired path.

Satisfied with my list and grateful for all the past experiences I could remember, I decided it was time to celebrate. I bought myself a piece of cake, popped a candle in it and reread my list again.

My wish? “Thank you. I’m so lucky. I can’t wait for what you have in store for me.”

Laura Khalil is a technology consultant turned comedian, public speaker and unabashed champion of helping women achieve more confidence, clarity and pleasure out of their lives. She hosts a podcast called Sexistential Crisis, where she documents her quest to make one man her emergency contact. Laura has appeared at The Moth, RISK!, Detroit Women of Comedy Festival, Creative Mornings, Intermitten, IT in the D, ZingTrain.