Reclaim Yourself

Last year was tough. Youve probably taken a beating emotionally and financially. As a new year unfolds, resolve to create a new you


Many people claim that books have literally changed their lives. Byron Sanders is now one of those people, having experienced a defining moment last January when he read the book One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook (WaterBrook Press; $19.99).

After completing the book, Sanders knew he had to adjust his career path. “I asked myself, “If I had 30 days to live, would I be doing what I feel I was put here to do? “I couldn’t say ‘yes,’ so I knew I needed to make a change.”

Sanders, 26, was employed at Pfizer at the time. He had remained in the pharmaceutical field because it offered him a high-paying job and he felt he was helping people. But his real passion involved helping to shape the minds of young people. In fact, as an undergrad at Southern Methodist University he and a classmate, Carl Dorvil, had created a group through which college students tutored and mentored high school students. “I moved on to a career in pharmaceutical sales, but Carl took it and ran with it. He connected with other people and created a company,” says Sanders.

The reinvention: Sanders took his sales and marketing skills and applied them to his passion. Last April the Dallas resident began working at Group Excellence, the educational services company Dorvil formed, where he is director of special projects, marketing, and sales. Sanders’ duties involve marketing the company brand as well as sales of the company’s online learning tool to schools and individuals. Although Sanders says he made the right choice, his new path was paved with sacrifice. He earned more than $80,000 at Pfizer, but took a 40% pay cut when he started his new job. “It wasn’t easy, but I don’t regret it at all. I’d do it again,” says Sanders.

If you’ve lost your passion for your job or don’t see room for growth, here are five tips to help you catapult your career in the right direction.

1. Prepare yourself. Career reinvention is an ongoing process and often requires having a job on the side as well as a willingness to move out of your comfort zone. “Make friends with your fear because it will be your constant companion throughout your reinvention,” offers Pamela Mitchell, founder and CEO of the Reinvention Institute (

2. Use what you’ve got. The first step toward reinvention is self-assessment. “Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Identify career fields that match your interests, values, and skills,” says Karen Nethersole Esq., CEO and founder of Full Circle NY (, a career development firm. You don’t have to give up your old skills—just transfer them.

3. Seek support. “Coaches see our blind spots and help us map out a plan of action to improve ourselves,” explains Keith Wyche, president of U.S. operations at Pitney Bowes Management Services Inc. and author of Good Is Not Enough: And Other Unwritten Rules for Minority Professionals (Portfolio Hardcover; $24.95). Also reach out to your alma mater’s career center or professional organizations.

4. Be a chameleon. According to Mitchell, every industry has its own language, but 95% of reinventors make the mistake of not translating their background into the language of the new industry they’re targeting. Learn the language by checking out industry trade publications and blogs, or attending industry-related events.

5. Keep reinventing. Reinvention doesn’t necessarily involve a drastic transformation. Take small steps. Take a class, go to an event you wouldn’t normally attend, or resurrect a rarely used skill.

–Sheiresa McRae & Brittany Hutson

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