The Power To Change

It starts with your outlook

In September 1999, Romona Davis-Washington began the yearlong preparation to leave KeyBank, where she worked as a senior underwriter. She was in need of a major attitude adjustment. “I was burned out from the rat race. It seemed I was always behind the eight ball and just couldn’t keep up,” explains Davis-Washington. “I didn’t feel good about myself. I felt like I was failing my children because I would get home so late, and failing my husband because I was so irritable.”

For Davis-Washington, 38, an attitude change would be tied directly to a career change. “I wasn’t happy and had to find a way to make life work for me.” Initially, she was afraid to give up her income–more than $60,000 a year. But she decided that her happiness was worth more. She resigned in September 2000 to operate her own business, Manners ‘N More, a full-service training and development company specializing in etiquette, customer service, and diversity.

Manners ‘N More now provides 15 workshop programs for individuals of all ages, and for corporate clients such as Progressive Insurance and Eli Lilly & Co. It has locations in six cities and is working to expand into 10. The company isn’t out of the red yet, however. Davis-Washington has a long struggle ahead of her and is determined to give the business her best effort. “I am confident that I can make it successfully on my own terms.”

Remember that any external change will first begin internally. Maintains Davis-Washington, “A person’s attitude can determine his or her success or failure. A positive outlook is necessary to maintain stamina and keep pressing on.”

Your attitude will directly impact whatever changes you intend to make, so mend your mood first (see “Banish Bad Days,” Motivation, October 2000). Then, incorporate Davis-Washington’s strategies into your own plan for change:

  • Embrace uncertainty. Don’t let things you have no control over stop you from making necessary changes. Davis-Washington accepted that life holds no guarantees, which freed her to make her career change without worrying excessively. You’ll never know what the future holds, she maintains. Accept it, get over it–then get on with it.
  • Boost your confidence with research. This will help strengthen your resolve to change. “I know there is a great need for my service,” states Davis-Washington, who performed due diligence before launching her business (Romona’s School of Etiquette Inc., the parent company for Manners ‘N More) as a “hobby” back in 1995. Follow Davis-Washington’s lead by doing some reading and talking to people you trust about your upcoming change.
  • Focus on what you’ll be gaining. “I have more quality time to spend with my children,” says Davis-Washington. “I am more affectionate to my husband and happier with my career because I am doing what I love to do,” she says.
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