As we enter July (JULY! WTF!), I’m approaching month number 7 on the career switch train. I’ve talked a little bit about my swap from reality television in LA to fitness and small business in Chicago on the blog. Some days, I’m scraping pennies together trying to make ends meet while going on a minimum of three interviews a day. Other days, I’m wondering if I made a huge mistake. Most days though, I’m thinking about how I’d rather be struggling to be doing what I’m doing right now than to EVER go back to the misery and discomfort I felt in my old career.
Amidst the endless frustration, panic attacks about money and straight-up disappointment of rejection, I’ve learned some incredible lessons this year navigating a new career. Though I may not have the answers on where my career is headed or enough disposable income to support my addiction to gel manicures, I feel for the first time in years that I’m on the right path. What that path might be is a mystery, but I’m learning some preeeeetty cool lessons along the way:
1. I Learned How To Wake Up at 3:45am
You read that correctly. That’s a THREE. In TV, you can have some pretty wack call times. But never, in my five years working up the ladder in production, did I set my alarm for 3:45am. Now, that’s go-time 4-5 days a week, and I kind of love it. I’m still working on how to perfect the 20-minute afternoon nap because, I’ll be honest, my current naps are 2 hours long and I keep waking up thinking I’ve lost 100 years off my life. It’s pretty weird feeling like you could eat a four-course meal at 9am, but I feel like a BOSS at 11am when I’ve already made a solid chunk of change for the day AND my workout is done (fitness industry perks).
2. I Learned How To Network
In some ways, I feel like a born-again college graduate. I spend a lot of time researching companies and creeping around on LinkedIn. I set up a LOT of informational meetings. I apply and interview with what feels like 600 people a week. I do that weird thing where you actually follow-up with people and check back in to see if they have any new openings that might be a good fit. I’ll admit that I was awful at networking before this year. I was so nervous to talk to people and I never made time for any informal meetings or phone calls. I felt like I had nothing to offer people; why would they want to talk to me? It’s almost comical that I feel more comfortable with the idea of being a freelancer now that I’ve left a business that heavily relied upon freelance workers. I’ve started to believe in the value of what I can bring to a team, which has given me the confidence to put myself out there professionally.
3. I Learned How To Manage People
I spent the entirety of my early twenties being an executive assistant. This made me VERY good at office etiquette, time management and anticipating people’s needs. It did not serve me in any way when it came to managing other people. This year, I’ve had the opportunity to turn all of my experiences with good and bad communicators into my own leadership style. I’ve realized how much I love improving efficiency and delegation. I love leading a team of people and I also weirdly love customer service? And sales? Who am I? Help?
4. I Learned How To Have Fun at Work Again
I probably spend a cumulative 6 hours a week just mopping and folding things. And I enjoy it. I complain less, laugh more, and talk to more people on a daily basis than I ever did in Los Angeles. I waste so much less time trolling the internet, and some days I never check my email. I don’t sit in a desk chair at work. I don’t have to get anyone coffee. I don’t have to sit somewhere for 8+ hours a day because that’s the socially acceptable work day. My schedule is erratic and insanity and I like it. After all, Elle Woods knows best. Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t just hate everything about their jobs. They just don’t.
5. I Learned How To (Temporarily) Silence The Ego
OOF. This one is a lesson in progress. Some days I do catch myself thinking things like, I can’t believe I’m only getting paid X amount to do this job. Or, I deserve to be doing X instead. This year has been a HUGE lesson in humility and hard work, and it’s a reminder that was way overdue for me. I’m working harder now than I have in the last three years, when I was skating by on a salary that I didn’t really work hard enough to deserve. At the beginning of the year, I had a victim’s mentality: if only someone would give me the chance, then I could show them that I can do this job. If only I could talk to this person, then they would understand how great of a fit I am for this role. But I can’t control how other people perceive me or if they understand how my past experience translates to what I want to be doing next. Getting a foot in the door, getting an opportunity and then working REALLY hard is the only thing I can control. Sometimes that still isn’t good enough, and that’s okay, too. Before I got my instructing cert, I auditioned for a spin instructor spot at Flywheel in 2014. When I didn’t get it, it WRECKED me. I cried. I’ve been rejected by 235 instructing jobs in Chicago by now, and I can now let it roll off my back. Failure used to bruise my ego so, so badly. I’m building up the armor this year. Just call me Pat Benatar.