Two years ago Nancy Lowell began a new career as a business coach. The move made sense given her background. She had been a manager with whole Foods and had a successful corporate track record. She was energetic and motivated.
Nancy soon became frustrated with her coaching business. She had invested in a franchise, which seemed to give her a platform to get started. She enjoyed reaching out to clients. Yet almost immediately, she began to feel a great deal of frustration. Unable to move her business forward, she began to doubt herself and wonder, “What’s wrong with me?”
As time went on, she found herself struggling more, not less. She found clients but had more difficulty relating to them and she certainly wasn’t enjoying what she was doing.
Finaly, Nancy came to a decision. As a businesswoman, she understood the meaning of sunk costs. She says, “I had invested a considerable amount in this business but realized it was not a good fit for me.”
Meanwhile, Nancy’s non-business life kept moving forward. She started working with a life coach. She made a life-changing trip to Bali, Indonesia, and began a daily meditation practice focused on the chakras. Working with this meditation helped her decide to close the business. She began thinking about what she wanted from a business and what she could bring.
A few months after she began meditating, she woke at 2:30 AM with a fully formed plan. She turned on the light and wrote everythingt down. “It was like a divine download,” she says, ‘although I’m not a woo-woo kind of person.”
Almost immediately she began to work on the first part of her plan – a new blog, The Chef’s Last Diet, a collection of essays and recipes. She realied she had always had connections to food: she’d worked in the industry, loved to cook and had experience in food wholesale and retail industries.
Nancy started her blog on June 6th. She now has 61 blog followers and over 400 Twitter followers just eight weeks later. Her blog has drawn readers from 27 countries and she has been growing her Facebook following.
Nancy has a plan. She wants to build a following from her blog and then review new products for her audience. She will be offering speaking engagements, coaching private clients on food issues and holding cooking classes for busy Philadelphians (“some people can’t even roast a chicken and some want to start making gourtmet dinners – I can help!”).
“I feel more confident than I have in years,” Nancy says.
So … what does Nancy’s story tell the rest of us?
FWe’re often advised to, “Never quit.” That’s often good advice but if you’re a caterpillar who can’t get excited about becoming a butterfly, you’re trapped in a cocoon – not winning points for persistence.
Economists teach us that we should ignore past investments. They’re sunk costs. It’s easier to see with a corporate example. Suppose a company has invested a million dollars in a new product. Now a competitor comes out with a superior product that can be sold at a lower cost. Should the company continue to develop this product or begin working on something new?
If you’re not sure what to do, “make space in your mind” for new possibilities. Nancy chose meditation and life coaching as her practices. You can also choose EFT tapping, Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way Program, psychotherapy, traditional religion, time in nature or even artistic practices. The list is infinite.
If you can’t afford to quit cold turkey, focus on distancing yourself in your mind. Decide what you have to do to keep your job (no need to take senseless risks) and do it. Many of my clients have been surprised to discover pockets of time in their day as well as ways to use free time more productively. My ebook, 10 Things To Do When You REALLY Hate Your Job, shares some ways to distance yourself without putting your career in danger.
The biggest change will come from your mindset. You start defining yourself differently. You’ll make decisions with a different perspective.
So far, Nancy’s in the earliest stage of her career change. I’ll be posting updates as she moves forward.
The decision – quit or stay – is one of the five toughest career decisions discussed in my newest ebook. Click here to download your copy: 5 Tough Career Decisions.