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3 Keys to Successful Career Reinvention

By Nancy Collamer

One of the things I enjoyed most about writing my book, Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit From Your Passions During Semi-Retirement, was the opportunity it provided me to interview dozens of people who have recreated their careers in all sorts of lifestyle-friendly ways.

Conducting those interviews was humbling, fascinating, and surprisingly revealing. Of course, as a veteran career coach I work around interesting people in transition all the time. But there was something about hearing forty reinvention stories in rapid succession that taught me more about career reinvention than I ever expected.

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What did I learn? In the book I discuss my findings in detail, but for now, let me share three of those reinvention lessons here:

1.) It pays to be true to who you are.

Don't try to live someone else's definition of success. Honoring who you are and what makes you unique is the first step in aligning yourself with work that allows you to shine and radiate your brilliance to the world.

All too many of us fall into the trap of allowing society to define success for us and that can be a costly mistake. Knowing and claiming what you really want, as opposed to what society claims you should want, is a critical link to success in the reinvention process.

It's not easy to "come clean" with yourself, but when you're willing to let go of the glossy trappings of your career in favor of more personally significant paths, amazing transformations can and do happen.

2.) Prepare for serendipity.

I realize that is an oxymoron; you can't plan where, when, or how serendipity will happen. But rest assured that somewhere along the way, serendipity will grace your path.

I know this might sound a bit "hippy-dippy" to some of you, but I know of no better way to explain the surprising number of times people in my book shared stories of strange coincidences, random conversations, and chance meetings that ended up playing a pivotal role in their reinventions. Did those random events magically change their destiny? Of course not. Good intentions and wishful thinking alone get you nowhere without action.

But if you consistently take actions to move towards your goal, good things are certain to happen.

So, the next time someone extends an invitation, accept it; the next time you hesitate to try something new, rethink your decision; and the next time you're sitting next to someone on an airplane, start a conversation. Lady luck is certain to make an appearance along the way.

3.) Attitude trumps ability.

The people I interviewed for my book came from diverse backgrounds, but they all seemed to share a common can-do spirit. I wasn't surprised, because I see the power of a positive attitude at work with my clients all the time.

The ones who believe they will be successful, are successful; and the ones who believe they will fail, do fail.

I loved when one of the women featured in my book, Gracie Cavnar, the founder of the nonprofit organization, Recipe for Success, said, "We ourselves tend to be our biggest ‘boxer-inners,'" she said. "Anyone can do lots of things, but it is their own monkey mind that gets in the way. It is astounding to me how often that happens and it doesn't seem to have an age barrier."

I couldn't agree more. When you believe in yourself, you find the power to try new things, take risks, and better weather the inevitable disappointments and bumps along the road.

So take steps to stay positive. The smallest changes to your daily routine can add up to big changes: surrounding yourself with supporters (and avoiding "Debby Downers"), exercising regularly, cultivating an attitude of gratitude, and limiting your exposure to negativity can all significantly enhance your outlook - and your outcomes.


About the author...

Nancy Collamer, M.S.,is a career coach, speaker, and author of the new book Second-Act Careers: 50+ Ways to Profit from Your Passions During Semi-Retirement (Random House, 2013). In private practice since 1996, Nancy gained national prominence in her tenure as the Career Transitions columnist for Oxygen Media. She has spoken at venues ranging from Harvard Business School to the California Governors Conference on Women. Please connect with Nancy on Twitter @NancyCollamer and on her website at MyLifestyleCareer.com.


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