If you had one shot or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment, would you capture it, or just let it slip? – Eminem
I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions on how I handled my career change so I thought maybe I’ll write my story and also give some helpful advice on how to pursue your passion. Remember, today is the day for you to take action to do something you love. It is never too late to live your dream.
There are people who will tell you that you can’t make a living doing what you love. Some will tell you that you simply aren’t good enough, strong enough or smart enough. I even had someone tell me that at my age, I should focus more on finding a husband and having children, not a career! Ha! It frustrated me, but I looked at it as a challenge. It was an opportunity to prove them wrong, but most importantly to give myself the chance to live the life I’ve always wanted!
Now, this wasn’t a decision I made over night. It took several years of research, planning and preparation. I was always passionate about skin and holistic health, but didn’t have a clue on how to get started. All I knew was that I was hungry for it. I wanted it so bad, I was willing to bleed for it. In my mid twenties, I hit a point in my life where I was just unhappy with myself. When I had looked back on my life, I felt as though I didn’t accomplish anything and I certainly wasn’t proud of some of the decisions I made. Finally, I decided to make some changes and take action.
Yet still, after all that planning and research, I couldn’t get myself to pull the trigger! I was on a roll and then I froze. Fear had gotten the best of me. I kept doubting myself. I couldn’t help but think, what if I FAIL??
A year and a half ago, I was on a business trip in San Francisco for my old job and had dinner with some colleagues. I was having a rough night and I couldn’t get myself to be present in that moment. I felt lost in the conversations throughout the evening. I found myself bored and wondering what I was even doing there with these people! As I was walking back to my hotel that night, I realized that now was the right time for me to put in my two weeks notice! Haha yes! I had spent so many years planning on exiting this job gracefully, so I couldn’t wait any longer. I was ready. I wasn’t going to let myself fail. The only option I had was to be successful. This was it!
Fast forward a year and a half later, I am now a successful Licensed Esthetician in the Los Angeles area and I love what I do! So here are some steps I took in making that drastic career change. Hope it helps you, too!
- I started setting goals for myself each day. In the morning I would tell myself that I would need to spend at least 1 hour after work researching a program or school near me in the career I wanted. This was difficult for me to do after a long day at work, but I forced myself to do it. Other times, I told myself I would visit a spa or skin center during my lunch break or make calls to find out how I could break into the industry. I started small and set bigger goals financially, which I will get to.
- I did my research on the industry. I had to educate myself on what this industry would be like, what jobs were offered, salaries, etc. Since the State of California had pretty specific requirements before you can be issued a license for Esthetics, I had to find out how long the training program would be, what I had to do to complete it, and if I could afford to even do it. It’s important to know what you are getting into before you invest any time and money.
- I checked my finances. I would never advise anyone to quit their job for another or go back to school without fully reviewing your financial situation. This was important especially because I was living with a partner at the time, so it wasn’t a decision I could make on my own. I had responsibilities and bills to keep up with. I had to make sure he and I could live comfortably. One of the goals I set for myself while I was still at my old job was to SAVE “X” amount each month. So of course, we had to change spending habits as a couple. We focused on just spending money on the basics and put the rest into a savings account. Then I started looking into a budget I could invest in my training program, how much tuition would be each month, what I could afford to pay and what I couldn’t.
- I looked into what other avenues my new career could take me. So I loved skin, but does that only limit me to work in a spa? Can I work with doctors? Dermatologists? A holistic health center? What would my license cover in my practice? I had to really think about this one because I wanted options and room to grow as a professional and not find myself limited in one path.
- I compared the salaries of my old job with my potential new job. For me, it wasn’t about making a lot of money but rather doing something I loved. However, I still had to make sure I could make enough to sustain myself. After all, I had bills and undergrad loans to still pay!
- I interviewed someone who had the job I wanted. Luckily, I’ve been going to the same Esthetician who has been working on my skin for years and I was able to pick her brain on the industry. I asked so many questions and learned so much. I highly recommend you do the same. This is the best way for you to figure out if your new career path is right for you.
- I asked my family and friends for help. Believe it or not, this was a hard one. I always felt the need to be able to do something on my own, but the reality is, I simply couldn’t go through this journey alone! I had to look to my family and friends for support and encouragement because I kept doubting my abilities. That really is the true beauty of following your dreams. Just when you forget how amazing you are, your loved ones will be there to remind you of it. Someday, they will need that from you, too.
- I cut the fat. Meaning, I cut out distractions and things that would derail me from achieving my goals. I chose to not be in a relationship and not date, which was a hard one for me because this was the first time I had been truly single in about 8 years! I really made focusing on my career a priority. I couldn’t have late nights out anymore because I had to be up early the next day for class. I also started to surround myself with more positive people and ignored the negative ones. It was learning to incorporate discipline and focus in my life.
- I organize my skills and experience. I honed all my skills that I acquired from my previous jobs and thought about how it would transfer over into my new career. You have to remember that just because you are changing careers, it doesn’t mean that your background and experience from your previous jobs go to waste. Rather, you can apply it to your current job and use it to your advantage. For example, I have 6-8 years experience in sales, customer service and database management. My job now still requires all of those even though it’s a totally different industry.
- I looked to God for guidance, strength and courage. There were so many times I felt like I shouldn’t have quit my old job because I was scared of failure. Whenever I felt that way though, I looked to God for guidance to keep me strong and confident in my abilities.
- I started networking. I started reaching out to business owners, well known Estheticians in the Los Angeles area and attended events. You have to put yourself out there and sell yourself. Otherwise, how will anyone know how amazing you are? It’s also a great way to learn from those who have years of experience in the industry. Building relationships is so important. I can’t stress this enough. They say it’s all about who you know and it’s true. Opportunities are offered by creating these types of relationships.
Now let’s say you have made the career change and are doing what you love. The next piece of advice I have to give you is to keep yourself educated. If you want to truly be the best in what you do, make sure to keep yourself hungry for the next big thing. I’ve mentioned this before, but if you think you know everything then you’ve already compromised your success. Remember, your industry is constantly changing, the world is changing and people are changing so you need to keep abreast of these trends. The most successful people don’t lie dormant; they are constantly motivated and eager to learn.
All of this did not go without hard work. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I’ve cried, I’ve made sacrifices, I’ve crawled on my hands and knees for all of this. With that said, it was all worth it. I have no regrets other than not doing it sooner.
I’m good at what I do and will stop at nothing to be the absolute best. It takes a lot of patience, hard work and dedication. I’m always challenging myself and setting goals everyday. For me, 2015 was all about the transition and obtaining a license to practice. 2016 is now focused on networking, building client relationships and starting business initiatives. Recently, I’ve been looking into starting my own business on skin and holistic health. I’m 31 now and living life to the fullest. I couldn’t be happier and I hope you find your happiness too if you haven’t already!