Insights • Inspirations • Destinations • Design

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Finding the Strength To Create (Or Change) a Career

I had an email conversation with my lovely publisher today. (She's one of these amazing working mothers for whom I have unending respect and admiration.)

We were discussing publishing strategies, some of which involved me going to SF and NY in October for deal-broking meetings. Now, I love New York. ADORE it. But I don't have my publisher's flair, her patience, her dignity and strength, or indeed her publishing expertise. And the people I'm meeting are creatives I've admired for many years. Suddenly, I'm nervous. For the first time, New York seems rather scary.

Do you ever find yourself bound by self-doubt, especially in your career? Watching single-mother-of-four Rochelle on The X-Factor tonight, belting that song out like Miss Aretha Franklin herself, and then seeing her crumble into tears at the end, well, that made me cry too. (I hope she wins the show. I suspect she's gonna sing the pants off her songs.) 

We all suffer self-doubt, and not just because there are spiteful critics waiting in the wings to trip us up as we walk – as a success or a failure – off the stage. My partner works as a policy advisor in government, with a PT job assisting a small political party. He never shows his nerves. Politicians rarely do. I admire him for that. But for most of us, our career paths can often involve some fancy foot-stepping, a quickening heart-rate as the adrenalin kicks in, and a bad poker face to hide the bluff. I used to walk into business meetings with a week's preparation up my sleeve, but still found myself forgetting their names. So simple, and so important, too.

The thing is, it's good to be shown the humility door now and then, (or even just the "try harder door") because it makes you a better person: stronger, more tenacious and perhaps more patient and compassionate too. Dignity and wisdom come with experience. As Jerry Seinfeld said when asked what his best advice was: "Keep your head down in success, and your head up when the going gets tough."

So why are we having this conversation? Because lots of people I know are trying to change careers, or lives, and finding themselves bound by self-doubt. At least six people I know want to write a book. Another two want to start a business. A couple want to move overseas for work.  But the fear is near. The ambitions seem too, well... ambitious.

I'll tell you what I do when I want to achieve something but feel the nerves kick in. I follow Jerry Seinfeld's advice and look down. I ignore the naysayers, the cynics, the questions, and the competition. I do a full prons/cons list, a risk analysis, a CBA (cost-benefit analysis), a lot of other due diligence and research, and then finally a heart-searching Do I Really Want to Do This? There's an old business adage: IS THE PRIZE WORTH THE FIGHT? It's a good question to ask.

It's also something only you can answer.

Making the decision is actually the difficult part. Then all you need to do is take small steps. Think of the prize. Make a lot of To Do Lists. Remember Pareto's Principle. And perhaps keep your head down, too.

I wish you all the very best of luck. You will do well. Truly.

{PS Cheesy quotes, I know. Sorry.}


  1. All so true...perfect timing Janelle ..merci!

  2. Janelle, thanks for your blog, it's consistently interesting, stylish and inspiring. Changing careers is difficult and writing a book and hoping to get it published must be one of the most challenging tasks there is. I remember reading that Stephen King pinned his innumerable rejection slips to the wall and just kept writing.

    I also remember Woody Allen's line, "80 percent of life is showing up". The most successful people I know are dependable and disciplined and don't give up. You can be the most brilliant writer/artist/singer etc in the world, but if you don't show up and you don't keep at it, who will know?

    Same with blogs :).

  3. Who needs a career coach when we have you!!
    M xx


Thank you for stopping by. It's always lovely hearing from The Library's readers.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...