Embracing your professional development or pursuing a career change can seem daunting, tedious and, at times, impossible. We often measure success by comparing ourselves to those around us, instead of focusing on our own qualities.
The reality is that there are many paths forward, and each person has a unique approach to finding theirs. Your success is the byproduct of a process of trial and error, your own experiments, and the practice of learning along the way.
Jen Glantz and Francesco Marconi’s paths have been anything but similar. While both live in New York City, one is an entrepreneur and the other works at The Associated Press. They, along with many others, started pursuing a career change while feeling lost. They asked themselves, “What should I do with my life? Why am I working here? Am I in the right place?”
As they found their answers, they came to share the belief that true fulfillment comes when you start focusing on building the “best version of yourself.”
How Jen used her instincts to gain a fresh start.
When I was 26, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, so any sort of “plan” I had involved doing just about anything. By that time, I had already worked five jobs and lived in three different states. I had collected job applications, internship experiences, and coffee meetings with department heads of companies I thought I wanted to work at.
My résumé featured many one-liners, one-year-only jobs, and experiences reminiscent of someone who’s had four midlife crises — way before the middle of her life. In response, I did what any person would do when feeling stuck in a job, unsure about life, and practically banned from messaging professionals on LinkedIn: I threw everything I owned in the air and decided to walk away.
I wanted to create my own job, my own career path, my own method of earning income. For a year and a half, though, I held on to my full-time job while building my own company, Bridesmaid for Hire. Now that it’s launched, my 9-to-5 hours are much less structured.
I work from my couch. I work Saturdays, but sometimes I take Wednesday off. I’m my own boss, my own accountant, my own sales team.
Some mornings, I wake up and I miss working from an office. I wonder what it would be like to not think about checking emails at 3 AM, or take phone calls on a Thursday night at 10:35 because that’s when a client wants to speak. My career journey hasn’t been a linear path. I’d say it looks like a game of “connect the dots” gone wrong. If anything, it looks like a constellation pattern that says, “Do What You Love” — even if that means doing it your own way.
My career journey hasn’t been a linear path. I’d say it looks like a game of “connect the dots” gone wrong. If anything, it looks like a constellation pattern that says, “Do What You Love” — even if that means doing it your own way.
Where Francesco found inspiration to build a path of his own.
Growing up, I was fascinated by stories of famously successful people. I read about artists like Leonardo da Vinci, inventors like Thomas Edison, and businessmen like Warren Buffett. I wanted to follow in their footsteps, to create something from seemingly nothing, and find a sense of purpose in the process.
I thought I’d strike it rich by 21 — that didn’t happen. I had only recently emigrated from Europe to the United States and spoke broken English. I had no idea how I would achieve my goal, or even where I would live.
My coping strategy was to focus on fitting in with this new culture. I observed how people — bosses, colleagues, friends — shook hands, how they dressed, how they made small talk. And I took notes.
What started as a social survival mechanism had turned into a real interest: I was researching communications, psychology, and strategic planning; I was looking for a pattern.
You might call what I found an algorithm, a formula that people use consciously — and sometimes unconsciously — to achieve sustainable success. This algorithm can be replicated. It can be personalized. The point of this “secret formula” is to engage your potential, your purpose, and the people around you.
Using my newfound approach, I found a job in media strategy at one of the largest news companies in the world, a job that requires an innovative approach because the traditional blueprint for success has been thrown out the window. What I learned from pursuing a career change is that you are the X factor in the formula. You are the algorithm. And, if you change your mindset, you change yourself.
Build a path of your own.