Finding Your Professional Passion

Changing careers may seem daunting, but with careful planning you could create the business life you want

Once again, Jackson needed to design a new occupational path. But this time he rekindled a latent passion and talent that had served him throughout his professional life. “I always had the ability to write well, and I was good at copywriting.”

Not one to let moss grow under his ideas, earlier this year Jackson wrote and self-published a memoir titled Witness ($25.95), which details his personal challenges and accomplishments, such as his rise from poverty and his professional successes. He is currently the managing director and editor for a new publication, Gospel Tribune Atlanta.

Making a smooth career transition requires thought and planning. “People should ask themselves how far they are willing to go,” says Peter Handal, president and CEO of Dale Carnegie Training, a performance-based training company in Hauppauge, New York. Remember that a career change takes time, so concentrate on finding one that fits well with your passion, interests, and lifestyle. You should also prepare yourself financially, because moving to a different industry may mean a cut in pay. “If you’re going to be living off of less, then you need to make that transition in your lifestyle as well,” says Marlon Cousin, managing partner of The Marquin Group, a boutique executive search firm.

Once you’re ready to make the transition, here’s how to ensure that it’s smooth:

Do a self-assessment. It’s difficult to make a successful transition without a full assessment of your talent, soft skills as well as hard. (Soft skills include work ethic and communication, teamwork, and problem-solving skills.) A skills assessment is all-important to developing your professional profile. “Oftentimes, it’s those things that you don’t give a lot of credence to that are strengths,” says Jackson. “If someone had said to me that I would be spending my time writing, I would have said, ‘No way.’”

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