As we navigate the second year of the Covid-1 pandemic epidemic, it is clear that many Americans are rethinking their future and rethinking their careers. Many are seriously considering potential life-changing modifications to their career goals.
The epidemic has simply accelerated people’s natural tendency to move on to a career that is more fruitful for them.
Not the opposite of the process I went through, when I decided to retire from my position as president of the New York Life Insurance Company, a Fortune 100 company, to build an Encore career. Although I was 59 years old and could stay in the company until the normal retirement age of 65, I was rethinking my own future after some life-changing experiences. Those experiences led me to seriously consider retiring and attending Divinity School to prepare for my next career in spiritual education and development.
The thought and plan I gave could be beneficial to many who think about career change after the epidemic.
Read: If you’re bored with your job and want to quit, don’t do it this way
Consider the financial and other consequences of a career change
Who among us has not occasionally considered a major change in our professional activities? Such thoughts can be frightening, and that’s why not everyone works on these emotions. But considering such changes can also be stimulating. Perhaps the epidemic has given you time and inspired you to rethink your current career and re-imagine what a beneficial change could be for your future.
When you consider a career change, it is important to carefully evaluate the potential financial consequences of such a change, especially in the near future. Make sure you have the resources to withstand the temporary deficit of your initial earning capacity and adjust your budgeted spending accordingly if necessary.
My own early retirement and pursuit of a career as a writer has proven to be a great liberation experience. I feel happier, healthier and younger than I have been for decades. While it was important to be financially prepared, I found it even more important to be present in all other non-financial aspects of a post-epidemic career.
Read: When you should – and shouldn’t – invest in Roth 401 (k)
Important question for you to answer
When you start the non-financial planning process, ask and answer honestly, these three questions:
D. Emotion question: What kind of work in your current career or in your activities outside of the workplace has made you happiest and provided the most satisfaction in your pre-epidemic years? In short, what is your biggest emotion?
2. Gifts and skills questions: What are your unique gifts and skills that you can use to achieve maximum satisfaction in your next career?
3. Preparation Question: What can you do now to set yourself up for the biggest impact when you decide to transform into a new career?
The answer to such questions is unique to each person. Finding answers will force you to fight the elusive concepts of “success,” “satisfaction,” and “happiness.” Nonetheless, I think it will be thoughtful and enjoyable for you to go through the practice of thinking and prudence.
The answer to the emotion question
We are happiest when we are running after our emotions. So the first step for me was to clearly identify the tasks and pursuits that left me with the highest sense of success, self-worth and therefore happiness.
I asked myself, “What makes me tick?” I’ve thought of many possibilities, but the thing that makes me happiest is to touch positively and make an impact in other people’s lives. So when I thought about how writing could help me accomplish that in my future, I began to imagine a new beginning – a period of significance and impact.
Think about the activities that give you the most joy and fulfillment. Then express your emotions in one or two sentences.
Gifts and skills are the answer to the question
It is almost certain that there will be a high relationship between what you do well and what makes you happy. Start from there and then expand your thought process by reflecting on all sorts of moments in your life – outside of your work activities – when you feel truly happy and fulfilled.
What time stood still? What are you doing just before you feel that extraordinary sense of success and well-being? As you recall those moments, ask yourself what value you added to the process.
I believe my biggest contributions and value additions were my own personal gifts and skills – my strong faith, my financial skills, my storytelling and writing skills, and my ability to make an impact in people’s lives through my teaching and mentoring skills.
The answer to the preparation question
Once you have identified your passion and your unique gifts and skills, consider how you will prepare for the next episode of your life.
My preparation involves several steps to start before the final conversion. I decided to go to Divinity School to increase my spiritual education and progress. I created a business school course on strategy and leadership that I taught as an assistant professor at Fairfield University. I researched both nonprofit and nonprofit organizations where I realized I could add value using my business and financial skills. As a result, I started serving on five nonprofit and two nonprofit boards.
The peace of mind that has followed my passions and influenced other people’s lives has made me much happier over the years.
Tips for starting your new career fast
When I was thinking about a career change, my daughter Dena had just graduated from college and felt she was fading into an entry-level position at a large global company. She came to me with an urgent request: she asked for advice on how to be noticed as a person with high potential and start building a meaningful new career path.
The tips I gave to Dena launched and supercharged her new career. Here is a brief summary of the five tips I gave him. You can apply it if you join a large company, a small company or even if you start an entrepreneurial venture with a small support team.
1. Demonstrate commitment
Demonstrate your commitment to your company. An easy way to do this is to work early, leave late, and be fully engaged in whatever you do. In other words, keep time. Even an additional 30 to 60 minutes per day will be noticed by your seniors, your colleagues and your team members.
2. Memorize your company’s mission statement
Submit the corporate mission statement to memory. If you’re an employee of a large firm, you don’t want to go around reciting mission statements; That would appear arrogant. Instead, since you consider difficult decisions (or observe decisions made by others), you can easily test against the mission described by their organization.
It is important for a company to coordinate well with its stated mission for decision and action.
3. Develop organizational awareness
Develop a network of communication between departments. Show interest in learning and understanding the culture, how the company works, who does what, who has what authority, and how things are done.
4. Demonstrate strategic ability
Get acquainted (gain, obtain) with your company’s products, services, customer base and target market. Identify the strengths and competitive advantages of your company’s marketplace. What is the edge of your company in the competition? Will the company be able to sustain it?
Strategies are about defeating competition, so get to know and learn as much as possible about the competition and the strategies they follow. Is your company losing its “competitive advantage” or is it based on it? Could it do better?
5. Understand the financial basis of the business
This tip may seem the hardest, but it’s really quite simple. My daughter had no background or training in accounting or finance but the following advice seemed strong and easy to implement.
Ask someone in the finance or accounting department to give you an initial idea of how the results of the company’s income statement flow on the balance sheet. Once you understand this, start a quarterly tracking (in a spreadsheet) of the following six numbers:
Statement from income statement: revenue, expenditure and net profit
From The Balance Sheet: Assets, Liabilities and Net Equity
It’s safe to say that none of your peers (and some of your seniors) will track these six key metrics over time.
For my daughter, implementing these five tips has introduced a set of rapidly increasing responsibilities that have provided countless career growth opportunities and financial rewards in the future. When you make career changes, they can do the same for you.
Fred Sewert is the retired president of the New York Life Insurance Company and author of three books, most recently titled Fast-Starting a Career of Consequences..