Of all the work-related changes to come out of the pandemic, one of the biggest has been the multitudes of people leaving their jobs. This has led to the “great resignation” and a lot of career transitions. It can be difficult to switch gears—the fear of failure is real. But if we allow them to, our experiences can build upon one another and get us where we need to be. Take me for example. Within the last couple of years, I’ve taken three distinct paths that have led me to where I am now.
While still in my 9-5, I became convinced I should be a writer. The problem was, I lacked the discipline to sit down and hammer out prose every day. I didn’t want to. It was hard for me to tap something out on the keyboard if I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired. Writers who make a career out of their craft know that you must show up, day in and day out, if you want to be successful. So, I pivoted.
Life took kind of a weird turn and I ended up moving out of my apartment to help with family matters. I decided this would be a good time to try out the art business I’d had in mind for years. I’ve always been told I should be doing something creative, and for years I’ve wondered if I could make a serious go of it. I did manage to sell a few pieces of work, but I didn’t love cranking out art because I had to sell it. Unfortunately, the problem with my artwork was the same as with writing—I had a tough time doing it without inspiration. Clearly, this wasn’t going to work either.
A Higher Calling
It was around this time I heard a sermon about determining your “superpower.” These are the giftings God gives you to make an impact on the world for His kingdom. I distinctly remember the pastor saying that “your superpower may not be what you think.” Up to that point I had been thinking that a career in the creative arts was my superpower, but that had proven untrue. I prayed about it, and not more than a couple of hours later, administration popped into my head. Administrative work had been my main source of income for about a decade, but I never considered it might be my “superpower.”
The more I began to think about it, the more it made perfect sense. I don’t recall ever having the desire to organize things when I was young. I was always making art or playing outside. This led me to believe that art (in all its forms) wasn’t my spiritual gift. Rather, it was a talent I was born with that was meant to be more of a supporting actor rather than playing the lead role.
With that in mind, I began to determine what was most important to me from a career standpoint. I knew I wanted to work from home, help people with their businesses, and do administrative work. I began to wonder if there was the equivalent of a remote administrative assistant. After a bit of research, I discovered virtual assistance.
A virtual assistant is a remote assistant who provides support services for businesses. The services offered tend to vary from person to person. Eventually you find your niche, which tends to be the place where the things you enjoy and do well converge. This allows you to help a client in the best way possible.
My business officially launched in October of 2021, and it’s one of the best career transitions I’ve ever made. I love helping people with their businesses. I also love the freedom and flexibility that this career affords me. It’s something I’ve been looking for for a long time.
As a bonus, this work comes naturally to me. It doesn’t feel like a grind getting up and getting organized or helping someone else do the same. Whether I’m feeling inspired or not, I’m ready to work.
Choose Your Own Adventure
It’s true that the switch from creative work to administrative work was a complete 180. I felt like there was a bit of disappointment from people who still thought I should be devoting my time to the arts. At the end of the day though, the only person who needs to respect what you’re doing is you. You’re the one who best understands the path you’re on whether it makes sense to anyone else or not.
The lack of success with my previous career transitions could have led to me feeling terrible about myself. Instead of going down that road, I realized all I’ve done up to this point could only help me with future opportunities. Those experiences could be the supporting roles they were meant to be.
Making Smooth Career Transitions
Transitions tend to be awkward, but it’s been my experience that once you find that thing you want to go for, the rest falls into place. That’s not to say it isn’t difficult, because it is. You may be starting a brand-new business and going through the process of creating an LLC, website, social media accounts, etc. The most important thing to remember is that every business owner goes through this process. And since we all go through it, you’re not alone.
Finding online or in-person groups that can offer support during these career transitions can be a great source of encouragement. I’ll be honest, I’m not one for Facebook groups, but there have been times on my VA journey that the insight from more seasoned VA’s has been invaluable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Skim the posts in a group and get a feel for whether it’s a supportive place to be.
The internet can also be your best friend while you’re getting your business set up. Do your research. There’s a wealth of information out there, but be mindful to seek out information from trusted sources. That means sticking to information from leaders in your industry.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Messy
Finally, for all you recovering perfectionists out there (raising my hand) you don’t have to do things perfectly! Consider this your permission to make a mess. Career transitions are always a bit messy at first. When I began to figure out my life and where I wanted it to go, I was using the Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets. One of the things that founder Lara Casey finally drilled into my head was that it was ok to make a mess—because progress is more important than perfection. You need to experiment and know that some experiments are going to fail if you ever intend to find what works. It can be a humbling experience, but you’ll be a better business owner for it.
In short, transitions are always awkward, and failure doesn’t have to be final. Use all of your experience to propel you into the next opportunity—don’t waste any of it! You never know where that combination of skills and experience will take you.