- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2001

"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." These words, written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, are inscribed on the first page of Nicholas Lore's book "The Pathfinder: How to Choose or Change Your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success."

A career changer at the age of 30, Mr. Lore says he was bored with being the chief executive officer of an energy company in Maine. As founder of the Rockport Institute, a career-counseling network in Rockville, Mr. Lore found his niche and has spent the past 22 years helping more than 10,000 clients change careers.

What does it take to make a successful career change?

"The biggest consideration is with one's spouse," Mr. Lore says. "The problems often come with spouses that don't understand the person's need to make a change." They see it as a threat to the survival of the family unit, he says. The spouses don't have to agree but have to be convinced it's important and that their support is necessary, he says.

Thomas Weaver, a career changer and career coach in Bethesda, agrees. A retired Navy dentist, Mr. Weaver says one of the biggest problems he has encountered is with senior military officers whose wives have had a certain degree of status. The wives are not happy about taking a pay cut and losing their status, he says.

"Sometimes people feel threatened and left behind. It's important to identify what everybody's fears are and get to the real issues," Mr. Weaver says.

Abi Pereira, a career counselor in Potomac, was the head of the Center for Professional Development at George Washington University.

A career changer herself, Mrs. Pereira, mother of five children (now grown), went back to school to change careers. She enlisted the support of her husband and children and let them take over some of the responsibilities she had carried.

"They felt as though they were part of a mission," she says.

Another important aspect in making a career change involves money. Most of the career changers interviewed kept their full-time jobs and pursued their new careers on a part-time basis until they could afford to make a switch to full time.

Mr. Lore says his experience has been in working with people who were motivated by the urge to do something satisfying not by money.

"If they are just doing a job for the income, it will take its toll," Mrs. Pereira says.

There are ways of getting around the money issue, Mr. Weaver says. Ask how much money is required to live. Perhaps one's lifestyle can be cut back.

He tells of a man who had four job offers at the same time.

"He was a cancer survivor, and one of the jobs was [with] an organization that worked with cancer survivors. It really went to his heart even though it did not pay the most money. More and more people are discovering money is not the be-all and end-all," Mr. Weaver says.

People often think they want to make a dramatic career change, but all that may be needed is to redesign their work, change employers or restructure their day in a different way to find satisfaction, says Judith Grutter, a career counselor and author in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Mr. Weaver agrees that sometimes people would be happy in their careers if they had more time to themselves. He worked with a client who was feeling stressed because she had no time to do the things she enjoyed. Through the coaching relationship, she has learned to carve out several hours each day to do those things.

Changing careers is not for the fainthearted. It takes a big commitment to doing the best possible job of making a choice, Mr. Lore says.

"That commitment will carry you through the difficult times when your mind is telling you to go back to your safe, secure job," he says.

The biggest mistake people make, Mr. Lore says, is trying to fit into something rather than having a career that fits them.

To avoid this pitfall, Mr. Lore recommends designing a future career to fit the individual.

"When you start off, you want to dream and find something that fits you," he says.

Mrs. Pereira concurs that one needs to look long and hard at what his or her real interests are.

"Be courageous," she says. "It takes guts. Have confidence in yourself that you can do it."

The biggest obstacle to change is the "yeah but" function of one's own mind, Mr. Lore says. Learning how to manage self-doubts is one of the most important parts in the career-change process.

Mr. Lore suggests making a list of all the "yeah buts" and turning them around into questions to answer and work on.

This leads to the next consideration, which is self-assessment. What is going to fit you?

Mr. Weaver uses a values grid in his coaching. "What are the most important values in your life? That can help identify the direction you want to go," he says.

Observation is another important part of the process. What are your natural talents and abilities? Mr. Lore says it's important to get tested, as this is an area in which people do not do well at self-assessment.

After the self-assessment, Ms. Grutter advises taking stock of what you need, what kind of risk is involved and how long it will take. Set short-term and long-term goals and be proactive rather than reactive, she says.


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