Taking Off the Mask
As a little girl, my grandma would always say, “The best thing you can do for yourself is become an entrepreneur.” Then we’d pronounce the word together, “ahn-truh-pruh-nur.”
I recall this memory because today I woke up excited about my first day as a full-time entrepreneur for my business Love Notery. Today also would have been my grandma’s birthday. If you had any doubt: the universe really does send signs.
But getting here wasn’t straightforward. I jumped into the job market as an ambitious entry level go-getter after graduate school and immediately got to work. I realized that hard work could pay off. There was a clear ladder, which I could climb by working harder than anyone else. And I did. Four years later, I was pursuing my goals with amazing vigor. I had moved to New York City and had a great job as an Account Supervisor for clients who needed strategic PR and marketing support. I was grateful for where my ambition had taken me.
It looked like PR would be my future and a successful one at that. Until I started listening to my gut. I just wasn’t getting out of bed with the same enthusiasm to tackle the day as years prior. With that lack of passion for my day-to-day, I suffered emotional turmoil. I had become a “rock star” (I was called that once) at what I was doing and I let what I was good at determine my next career moves.
I stopped chasing goals set for me and started chasing my gut
Once I paid more attention to the unfulfilling feelings I was experiencing, I started asking questions of friends, family and mentors: “What should I do if I have a really great career trajectory ahead of me, but I’m not excited about it?” The resounding answer was change courses.
Enter fear, which looked like this: “What if I’m giving up a solid future and a nice paycheck? I don’t even know what I want to do next, I just know this isn’t it. What if I don’t land on my feet? What will people think?”
So I set up a plan to remove some of the fear. Before going off the deep end into an unknown land, I started educating myself in several ways.
- I started reading and writing about entrepreneurs. At the time, I didn’t know if I wanted to become one, but I had a curiosity to learn what others were doing related to “nontraditional” This helped me not only learn about other new careers I had never considered, but also learn what’s involved in building a business. Whether or not, you’re into starting a business, knowing the ins and outs of creating one, will help you in unimaginable ways.
- I sought out new mentors who were outside of my current industry. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to be strategic about your career. Take on projects that aren’t necessarily within your job description and look for lateral opportunities; not just vertical ones.
- I attended events. I chose to attend startup events and those that were supportive of women in business. The main idea is to rub elbows with other people who have insights to share and get feedback about how to make a career transition. Who knows, you may even find a new mentor or friend.
This process was a great confidence builder. I had found more and more people who had been or who were in a position just like me. If they could do it, I could too. In that spirit, I started a side project to gain even more confidence before taking the leap. Even if you don’t want to start a business on your own, doing what you think you want to do as a side project will help you know if it’s really the new direction you’ve been seeking.
Several months and a whole lot of support later, I’ve built enough assuredness to “go at it alone.” I once heard someone say, “A goal that no longer serves you is one that no longer feels good when you’re going after it.” Words to live by, I say.
Kristen Rocco is the founder of Love Notery, a company that specializes in helping couples keep their love stories intact forever. Follow her on Instagram at @kristenrocco and Twitter at @kristenmrocco