Sometimes finding meaning in your work or happiness in your career requires more than just getting a promotion. Sometimes you need to shift your mindset and step out of what’s familiar to find Career Clarity. Several TarcherPerigee authors have experienced this firsthand, and in this series, these authors describe their big leaps—how they did it, what they learned along the way, and the advice they have for others who are considering a major career shakeup.
Name: Shannon Kaiser
Former Position: Senior Art Director in Advertising
What prompted you to make the shift from your former career or field into your current one?
I felt lost and stuck. I was confused because I thought the job in advertising is what I wanted; after all, I put myself through grad school to live that life. But what happens when you get what you thought you wanted and it feels nothing like what you hoped? That was me, stuck in a quarter-life crisis. The switch for me was when my doctor diagnosed me with clinical depression. I realized that by staying in a career that was sucking the life out of me, I was hurting my health. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I couldn’t stay in advertising. But one step at a time, my purpose and passion to be a writer revealed itself, and once I left corporate I never looked back.
What were the biggest concerns or fears you experienced when you made this decision? How did you overcome them?
I had a lot of limiting beliefs, such as you can’t make a living as a writer or doing what you love. I realized that these fears were not really mine but society’s, so I used the power of mantras to change my beliefs. Instead of repeating “you can’t make a living doing what you love,” every time that fear popped in my mind I would counter it by saying, “You can make a fabulous living doing what you love,” and with enough dedication and belief in myself this soon became my reality.
Looking back, is there anything you would do differently—or anything that you wish you’d known then that you know now?
I would definitely say to my younger just-getting-started writer self “to chill out and slow down. The journey is even more important than the destination.” When I first started, I was so eager to get there, to be a New York Times bestseller, to be featured on a cover of a magazine, to have more social media followers, etc.—all the successful benchmarks of the new career. I was focused on the outside reflection of success, but looking back, I realize that I spent a lot of time obsessing about what wasn’t ready to emerge. What I mean is, I was still learning, growing, and honing in on my message and craft. What I know today is that who we become in the process of making our goals come true is more important than the manifested goal.
What pieces of advice would you give to someone who is considering a major life or career change?
Trust yourself. The nudges you feel in your heart are part of your bigger plan. I would also suggest hiring a life coach or working with a support system or mentor to help lead you. A turning point for me was when I invested in a life coach and author mentor to help me get more clarity and focus. My career really took off once I made that choice to show up for business and myself.
Is there a book that you would recommend to those who are thinking about making a significant life/career shift—a book that either helped or inspired you?
Adventures for Your Soul is a book I wrote to take people through the fears that block us from being true to ourselves. I also share more about my own journey leaving corporate and provide clear action steps to help pull you forward into more clarity and joy.
Shannon Kaiser is the author of THE SELF-LOVE EXPERIMENT, available at these retailers: