Today we are thrilled to introduce a new collaboration with our friends at BUNCH Magazine. (You may recall our chat with Editor-in-Chief Lizzy!) Over the next year, they will be sharing some of their infinite wisdom and answering pressing questions about career aspirations, transitions and callings. We welcome their knowledge on the creative, professional, and entrepreneur space, and think you will love their insights as well.
I am in a crossroads in my career. For many years I have been working in one semi-creative field. I have many connections established, friends in the industry and solid reputation in my area of expertise. However, I have been unhappy with this path for some time. To fuel my interests I have been moonlighting in another field that it is ultimately the professional direction I want to pursue. While excited to try to segue into this field, I am also hesitant, scared and nervous to take the leap. I am fearful that people will not take me seriously, or that they will have a hard time associating me with my new endeavor....I won't even refer to myself as a professional in this area, for fear I am not yet good enough (even though I am now getting paid jobs and being sought out for my work). Is there ever a good time to take a risk? Help!
Will I ever feel confident about this decision? If I am not, is it a sign that I should hold off and wait to make the transition? Sincerely,
Stuck In The Middle
Dear Stuck In The Middle,
We are so glad you asked these questions! The topic of ‘taking the leap’ is one that comes up quite often amongst creatives. We’re often combating one if not all of the issues you described in your letter: lack of confidence, lack of experience and/or the fear that your passion project will not provide the financial security you need to survive.
Ever hear the phrase, “fake it till you make it?”. It’s something I hear over and over again amongst some of the most successful people I’ve ever met. You would be surprised by how many people feel inadequate in their careers yet they manage to push through, faking the confidence until they actually believe it for themselves. This ability to push through is what ultimately draws people to their work. The trick is to never tell yourself no, let someone else be the judge. And if they tell you no, so what? Someone will eventually tell you yes. When negative thoughts start to creep in and you begin to talk yourself out of your plans, ask yourself one simple question: would you say these things to someone you love? If they started doubting their dreams, would you convince them to abandon their pursuits? Probably not. So why do that to yourself?
Prior to launching BUNCH Magazine, I attended graduate school with the intention of starting a school with an international focus. Journalism had always been a serious hobby for me but I had resolved to leave it as that - a hobby. Owning a magazine was on my to do list from a very young age and I figured I would get to it one day after I had career stability in another field. One day I realized that I could wait another decade to pursue my passion or I could pull the trigger and start the magazine I had dreamt of running.
It was always very important to me to be well studied in anything I do and so I naturally felt very insecure about referring to myself as an Editor-in-Chief. Where was my journalism degree? Or my fancy internship at Condé Nast? I just knew that as soon as I handed over my business card someone would ask to see my CV. The truth is that no one has ever questioned my credentials because the work I produce trumps the experience. I imagine that is the same reason you have paying clients. If you still worry about your lack of experience, continue to build your portfolio and work with as many reputable clients as possible.
On Taking The Leap
We’ve established that confidence is something most people struggle with no matter where they’re at in their career; so to answer your question, no, I don’t believe that your lack of confidence is a sign for you to hold off on pursuing your dream career. Timing can be tricky because it is so subjective and truly up to the individual and her circumstances. Here are a few ideas:
Most experts encourage you to have x amount of savings before leaving your job, I encourage you to focus on selecting a date to leave first. While your exit date may rely heavily on your income, I do think having a firm date in mind is the most important part of this process. When I decided to exit my 9-5 and pursue BUNCH Magazine full time, I selected a date that was 6 months out and I told anyone who would listen in order to make myself accountable for my actions. Focusing on a date on the calendar instead of having a particular dollar amount in my bank account did something magical for me. It forced me to work as hard as possible in preparation for my departure. My confidence was through the roof, my productivity both in and out of my full time job increased, and I had something to look forward to. I suggest the same for you!
When switching careers, especially if you plan to go freelance or become an entrepreneur, it’s important to know how much money you can truly live with. Raise your hand if 80% of your extra income goes to handmade soaps and takeout via GrubHub. Keep it raised if you know that you can live without these things for at least 6 months. From there, you may be pleasantly surprised.
Like Nike says, just do it. If your dream career doesn’t work out, you can always go back to your former job. I have a sneaking suspicion that won’t be the case!
Editor in Chief / BUNCH Magazine
p.s. Do you have a pressing career question? Looking for advice on the next step in your professional path? Email us and we may share your letter here next month!