Career Consultant and author of ‘This is not the career I ordered’, Caroline Dowd-Higgins tells the story of how the career she loved stopped loving her. She talks about what triggered the career change, how self-awareness was so important to figure out her next career. She talks about how she tried a few careers before she found the one that really energized her and how she eventually became an entrepreneur.
What triggered her career change:
- As much as she loved performing opera, it was difficult to sustain that career financially. The feast-to-famine lifestyle was exhausting and it was frustrating that she didn’t have full control over her earnings as an artist.
- It also required a lot of international travel and she wanted to spend more time at home with her husband.
- Her lowest point was after after returning from a gig in Germany, she had a melt down. At that moment, she knew enough was enough.
What Caroline did at her career crossroads:
- She assessed her values and realized that she security, creativity and autonomy were very important to her. She chose to honor these values in her second act career.
- She discovered her strengths outside of singing and found that she was very good at writing and communication and really enjoyed it too.
- Most importantly, she tried out many different roles before she found the one that really energized her. She explains this the metaphor of trying many pairs of shoes before buying one.
- Initially, she started working as an academic adviser at Indiana university, while in this role, she accidentally discovered that having conversations with students about their careers was something that really got her excited. That self-discovery led to a series of roles in career development until eventually Caroline started her career consultancy.
- Her sweet spot is public speaking as it really ignited her passion for performing.
Tips for those starting a new career:
- Informational interviewing. Interview people in careers that fascinate you.
- Don’t be afraid to fail forward. Be confident.
- Take more risks. Women in particular are often afraid to take risks, don’t be.
- Know your strengths and maximize them.
- Know how you bring value to your role, service or product.
- Ask for help. Smart people ask for help! Leaders ask for help.
- Solve problems for other people. This is specially important if you are an entrepreneur.
- Pay It Forward.
- Get a board of directors of friends and colleagues who support you and coach you.