Making a big, bold move away from the warm safety and security of the status quo. Many of us think it’s impossible, too risky, too much unknown and left to chance.
Maybe it’s that we’re comfortable in our current situation – it’s easy and predictable – we’ve developed an identity around it – why mess with a good thing? Or it could be that we’re afraid we’ll make the wrong decision and be stuck in a bad situation.
There are even some of us that are stuck because we’ve been where we’re at for so long we think we’re better off (i.e. make more money) than we could ever be elsewhere.
These are all reasons we don’t make changes in our career – and there’s plenty of us out there. Engagement at work stubbornly hovers at around 32% in the US and around 13% globally.
With almost two-thirds of Americans left wanting for something more – why don’t more of us actually make the leap into the unknown and shake things up? Well, truth is more of us are doing it.
According to a 2016 report from LinkedIn, “The new normal is for Millennials (32 and younger) to jump jobs four times in their first decade out of college. That’s nearly double the bouncing around the generation before them did.”
Of course, changing jobs isn’t the same as changing careers, or as some misleadingly call it ‘starting over’. A career change is a more wholesale endeavor and as such presents more risk – real and imagined.
But despite the risk, ‘nearly 80 percent of workers in their 20s said they wanted to change careers, followed by 64 percent of 30-somethings and 54 percent in their 40s’, according to one report.
It seems like we hear more and more of people who have paused or ended their careers in an effort to pursue something new – something consistent with their values, goals, interests or lifestyle – or maybe all of the above.
I’m one of these people, and I’ve written about why I chose to make my change, but I’m curious why others have decided to venture out into the great unknown, beginning anew with a wholly different focus.
So, I decided to reach to some of these people and ask them about their big change – why they did it, how they did it, what they’ve learned and what they’d do differently – all in an effort to support those of us out there who are contemplating our own big changes.
I reached out to my friend Amanda ‘Crockett’ Kimble, who recently opened the Villa Vibes Yoga Studio in Santa Clarita, California, to get her story of change and becoming a small business owner.
Neill: What was your job before starting the yoga studio?
Amanda: I was an accounting and administration manager at a law firm.
Neill: Why did you decide to make such a drastic career change?
Amanda: I had been unhappy in my job for some time. I was convinced that I had to do my part to help provide for my family and contribute to our stability, so I stayed in a job that was making me miserable. As a mom, I also wanted something that was my own – with a family sometimes
Over time, though, the job started to wear me down and began to affect my mood and life outside of work, so I started to look for other opportunities.
I was already teaching yoga at a studio and loved it – it was an escape from the drudgery of the law firm. I have a friend who owns two successful studios in LA and she needed some back office help, so I was happy to have the opportunity to work for her and take my career into another direction. I knew if I could find a few more gigs like that I’d be able to quit working at the law firm and make a financial contribution to our family. I could leave the paycheck that I thought I needed.
So, I didn’t make this huge change all at once. Things gradually happened a little at a time and then I saw an opportunity to open my own studio. I didn’t really plan on it, it just happened.
Neill: Can you tell me more about how you made the change?
Amanda: As I was teaching and helping out my friend with her studios, I began to feel more confident in my skills. It was difficult, though, I was working 3 jobs at once plus taking care of my children who attend pre-school only part-time!
Obviously, this wasn’t sustainable and my husband supported my leaving the law firm so I decided to first scale back my hours at the firm to free up some time. That didn’t work – the 20 hours at the firm were crazy and still had a negative impact on me.
When a friend in my neighborhood told me about the studio space that was available, I decided that I would open my own yoga studio. I submitted my resignation shortly thereafter since I knew that opening my own studio wouldn’t succeed if I held onto my job at the firm.
Neill: How did you manage the uncertainty of starting your own business?
Amanda: I think working as both a teacher and accounting/HR manager at yoga studios gave me some insight into the yoga studio world. By being able to get involved in a lot of the back office, I was able to get a little experience in the business side of running a studio before actually taking on opening my own studio.
Having a friend who I deeply respect who has the experience of opening and running two successful studios has been extremely helpful. She’s a great mentor, a successful businesswoman, and someone I admire. I can approach her for feedback and support. I can go to her when I’m second-guessing myself or when I have specific questions, like pricing.
Neill: Has running your own yoga studio been what you’d imagined?
Amanda: At first I think I was in shock, I would second-guess myself asking ‘Oh my God, can I do this – what did I get myself into’? It didn’t help that I didn’t let go of my other obligations. I had a lot of doubt in the beginning, but I was in survival mode to get things up and running so I didn’t have time to sit back and look at what was happening.
As I take a step back and look at it now, I can see that I am bringing people together and connecting with them through yoga. I’m introducing yoga to beginners – people who might otherwise be too intimidated or self-conscious to try yoga. I am able to enjoy the reasons I opened the studio in the first place.
I’ve started to see that what I’ve created is having a positive impact on other people’s lives, and they have a positive impact on mine.
Neill: What do you enjoy the most about owning your own business?
Amanda: I love being able to make decisions based on what I believe benefits our students the most. I love that I can provide a place where people feel safe to open up and share what they’re going through – people joke that I’m their therapist too!
I’ve been where lots of my students are – being a parent, a mom, working at a job that you don’t like, trying to juggle everything, feeling overwhelmed and stressed – I get it and I can relate to that. The studio is a safe place for my students to not only practice yoga but work towards a healthier lifestyle. We have a lot of fun and share laughter and tears too!
Neill: I imagine there was a bit of a let down once you got things up and running. What keeps you going?
Amanda: It took my family, friends, and students to make me realize what we have at the studio. I could have never imagined the connection with students and community that Villa Vibes has created. That’s what I hang onto when I feel overwhelmed, stressed, have empty classes or sales are down for the month. To see positive changes in someone’s physical and mental health and well-being or see a student gain confidence in their journey makes it worth it. I am truly grateful for the beautiful people that have walked through our doors. With yoga, it can be a deeper level than going to the gym. People know that and they open up, they talk. Having a small studio allows people to open up and connect.
Neill: What’s been the most difficult about making the change?
Amanda: Letting go of the ‘what I should be doing’ mindset. Every day I think that I could be doing more. I have to remind myself to stay present and do something now – plan what I’m going to do tomorrow and let go of the rest. I can’t let myself get overwhelmed with all that needs to get done – I have to take one day at a time.
A friend of mine told me to ‘just look at the headlights in front of you, don’t focus on the lights or exit signs ten cars down the road’. That reminds me to focus on what is in front of me, not everything that I have to do. Otherwise, I won’t be productive.
I also have to realize that things won’t happen overnight – I have to be patient. I have to push through the times that are slow. When things aren’t going well – that’s when you have to push harder.
Neill: We all have difficult or challenging times – what do you do to stay positive?
Amanda: I try to practice what I preach at the studio – take time for you. Self-care is so important. Whether it is taking a break, treating yourself to the gym, to lunch, to meditation, to 30 minutes of doing absolutely nothing, you gotta take time for yourself.
Neill: What would you tell someone who is contemplating starting their own business?
Amanda: Have a business plan, but realize that it will continue to change. Work your ass off, but realize that you can’t do everything on your own. Sometimes we put lots of unrealistic pressure on ourselves. There’s so much that we feel we could or should be doing then we feel bad about it when it doesn’t get done. I would encourage others to work to get past that ‘what I could be doing’ and take that energy to focus on the work you are doing in the present. Accept that some days you are going to be full of self-doubt and be challenged by emotions. It’s ok to cry!
Neill: What fears did you have about changing careers?
Amanda: Doubt, asking myself ‘am I going to fail’? I would second-guess myself a lot.
Neill: What did you do to get past your fears?
Amanda: I talked to a lot of small business owners to get advice and express my fears. I was reminded that my current situation wasn’t going to make me happy and if the studio doesn’t work out, that wasn’t going to change how unhappy I was with my past career. I had to take the leap or wonder “what if” for the rest of my life, so I chose to take the scary leap.
No matter what, this gave me the push to do something different. I’m not the kind of person that takes risks and goes out of the box. I liked structure and schedule and predictability – that was satisfying. This ‘it is what you put into it’ is very different for me. I couldn’t keep working hard for something that didn’t mean anything to me – it wasn’t going to work.
Many people don’t believe that there’s other other, better options for them. You don’t always have to settle for something that doesn’t fulfill you.
Have a story to tell about your big career change or know someone who does? Let me know – I’m looking for my next interview.