From One Track to Another

It was a Thursday afternoon in 1992 when Linda Bond, now 49, made the life-changing decision to leave her position as a senior-level human resources executive and go back to school to become a lawyer.
“It’s one thing to lose your job and be forced to pursue something new; it’s quite another thing to quit,” says Bond, who resigned from her 12-year career at GTE, a telecommunications company that later merged with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon. Bond, now a partner with Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell in Tallahassee, Florida, says she knew it was time to make a life change but adds that while the idea of becoming a lawyer was promising, success wasn’t guaranteed. Bond took certain steps to ease the transition. Find yourself in a similar situation? Try these tips to ensure success:
n Be responsible. In her book, Coach Yourself to a New Career: A Book to Discover Your Profession (iUniverse; $13.95), Deborah Brown-Volkman says career changers should take responsibility for their choices — and that includes attitude. She suggests asking yourself: Does the attitude I have inspire me to achieve my goal? Does it give me confidence? Does it reflect the person I want to be? If you didn’t answer yes to all three questions, then you should consider adjusting your attitude. Bond says that making such a significant life change was an emotional roller coaster, and she admits she conducted an attitude check on a daily basis.

Be positive. See your transition as an opportunity to learn, grow, and excel. Carole Kanchier, Ph.D., author of Dare to Change Your Job — and Your Life (Jist Publishing; $16.95) and principal of Questers, a career consulting group, says every time you hear your inner voice criticize you or stir up doubt, stop and think of something positive to say to yourself, aloud. For example, say “I am making progress” or “I will be a success.”

Be focused. Don’t attempt to accomplish all your goals at once. List and prioritize them and set a realistic timeline. Review your list in moments of distraction to remind yourself to stay the course. Bond recalls having to sign up for the Law School Admission Test less than one week after deciding to change careers. She says being focused was the key to preparing for the exam.

Be committed. Resist your natural desire to stay in your comfort zone. “I knew I was committed when I sold my house in Connecticut and registered for school several thousand miles away in Florida,” explains Bond.

Be patient. Understand that significant change doesn’t happen overnight. Although it took more than three years to become the lawyer she dreamed of being, Bond says, “It was well worth waiting for my change to come.”