Katherine Mackenzie Smith is a woman wise beyond her years. I met her when she made the career leap from TV producer to life coach. She became my life coach and I worked with her last year – and the difference she made to the way I think about myself and my career was vast. I owe a lot to Katherine, and so I asked her to share with us 10 things she knows about making a career leap. Here’s what she had to say…
1. Changing your mind is okay
When I was 15, I decided I wanted to work in film and television, cut to 10 years later and I found myself walking a path that no longer had my heart. Shock horror that 15 year old me and 25 year old me wanted different things. Sometimes you’ll come to this realisation MUCH sooner than a decade later – and I hope that you do – but just know that it’s okay.
When something doesn’t feel right any more, start asking yourself questions about what you really want to do and really listen.
2. Attitude is everything
When you decide to leave your current career or job or life situation and head in a totally different direction, attitude is everything. If you go into it thinking you will fail, you probably will. If you think it’s a bad idea, it probably is. And if you think it’s going to change your life and sometimes it will be hard, but you’ll give it everything you’ve got and it will be so worth it, you’re probably, definitely, completely right.
In order to leap, some little part of you has to be ready to go for it, sometimes faking it until you make it is the best way to convince yourself (or someone else) that you completely believe that you’ve got this. Because you do.
3. Supporters are vital
When I was standing on the precipice of leaving my career, waiting to leap, I just happened to be surrounded by some spectacular people who believed in my dream and my abilities more than I believed in myself. I know that they lifted me up until I was ready to stand on my own and they supported and guided me when I most needed them.
Find the people who support you no matter what and avoid the detractors – you don’t need that.
4. Get out of your own way
I work with so many amazing women who are preparing to change careers. They’re unhappy where they are in life, but that has become part of their identity – dying for the weekend, counting down to Friday night wine time, complaining about their boss/colleagues/unfulfilling job. There is a fear for a lot of people – a deep, underlying, probably completely unaware fear – that if you get a job you love, you might actually be happy. Most people don’t know what to do with the the prospect of actually doing something they love, so they sabotage their chances of happiness to stay where it’s safe and comfortable.
Get out of your own way, stop playing small and settling for less than what you deserve and go for it already.
5. When it’s time to go, you know
On my last day of work, I got my first paying client and I couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t even a certified coach yet and, already, things were falling into place. I spent my last day of work seeing things in a completely different light. The negativity of the office I was working in, the bitching and moaning and general dissatisfaction and – although I’d been worried in the weeks leading up to it that maybe I’d made a mistake – I knew I was doing the right thing. I felt a weight lift off me as I walked out those doors and I knew for sure that I’d made the right choice.
You always know when it’s time to take the leap. Whether it’s a clear sign telling you or it’s a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach every day (I’ve had that one too). Stop and listen, you know.
6. Experience is everything
When I left my career in television after three years of high school working towards it, three years at university, and another ten in the industry, I was overcome with the idea that I had wasted more than half my life in pursuit of this career. In fact, there were moment when my brain tried to convince me that I’d already invested SO much time into this career, it would be a terrible waste to ditch it now. WRONG! Skills are transferrable, connections lifelong, and experience is what gives you an edge.
Identify your unique skills and abilities from your life and work experience and learning how to sell the bajeezus out of yourself and get the job or business or clients you really want.
7. It’s always scary and never easy
There’s absolutely no way that I would have left my job to start my own business from scratch alone. Hell no. It may be slightly more simple if you’re changing careers, but change isn’t easy. It’s also pretty damn scary. If you find yourself in a position where you’re unhappy, there’s a good chance you’re not sure what to do next or even what you really, really want. When I left my job I had a coach, a kinesiologist, and access to a couple of professional communities of like-minded people and it made all the difference.
You don’t skydive alone the first time you do it, so taking a big career or business leap is the same. Find support, pay for pros, get all the help you need to help you navigate your new life.
8. Your job is not who you are
This is why I needed kinesiologist (see point 7). I don’t pretend to understand it, so Google it for more info, but this was something that came into my life when I was right on the brink of changing careers. And what I learned was that I had tied my identity to what I did. TV was all I knew, it was all I’d ever wanted to do and it had, ultimately, become part of who I was. Or so I thought. Letting go of that identity was hard. TV has a certain ‘cool factor’ to it and it helped me, mostly in social situations where I felt awkward and didn’t quite know what to say to people. And it was absolutely holding me back from who I really was.
Repeat after me, your job is not who you are, it’s what you do. It’s not who you are, it’s what you do (repeat as long as necessary, or go and see a kinesiologist, it will change your life).
9. Nothing is certain
Here’s the thing, we get to make all the decisions we want in life. Whether we take this job or that job, whether we drive or take the bus to work, whether we go out for lunch or eat at our desk – but, in doing that, we have no control over what the consequences of that will be. We don’t know what opportunities will come up, even if we feel as though we made a misstep somewhere, it will often lead to something else.
Awareness that we are in control of some aspects of life, while others are completely out of our hands can sometimes be the most reassuring thing to consider when making major changes in life. Trusting this can be oh-so liberating. Take a breath and step back, it will be okay.
10. When you leap, you inspire others to leap too
Change is scary but, when we find the courage to step up and take control of our lives – instead of just going with the flow and letting life and change happen to us – incredible things happen. LIke finding real happiness. Pushing ourselves to the limits of what we think we’re capable of. And living a life that is so completely different from all the previous years (to name a few). But, even more incredibly, when we do this, other people see it. Suddenly, they realise that if you managed to leap and soar into a new and spectacular life maybe, just maybe, they could as well. And that is a powerful thing, my friend, when your positive and life changing decisions impact the life of somebody else.
If you’re still trying to find the courage to leap, look to others who have done it before you and trust that their success will inspire your success so that yours can impact someone else’s. Now isn’t that a magnificent possibility?
Katherine Mackenzie-Smith is a certified life coach, writer, speaker, and ‘self-help guru’ – according to Elle Magazine. She left a career in television when she realised that her ability to uncover a great story was better served helping women step into the spotlight of their lives, instead of on-camera. As a certified Beautiful You Coach and Assistant Trainer at the Beautiful You Coaching Academy, Katherine is on a mission to start an epidemic of strong, intelligent, beautiful, extraordinary women finally owning their awesome and realising that they have something so very important to contribute to the world. You can find her at thebeautyoflife.com.au – where heartfelt dreaming and real life action collide.