From Bylines to Boardrooms: Making the change

It never failed. Fall had the power to strike fear into my heart as a child. I wasn't spooked by Halloween or ghosts, well not right away. It took only the first glimpse of a back-to-school sign to take me down. It had nothing to do with grades - I was a straight-A, student throughout school. It was adjusting to change - the kind that came every September - that injected just enough anxiety into my brain to paralyze me into submission. 

Anyone else familiar with this? It's taken years and it's still a fight, but I work hard to embrace change even when my mind, my body and every bit of my being seems averse to it.

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear: Making a career change takes focus, determination and the right perspective. But it's always possible.

I even chose a career where the only constant was change. Every day as a reporter would prove to be different, exciting, unpredictable. I've loved every bit of working as a writer - even the tough parts. The challenging aspects of it wear on you as any job will, and I don't want to glamorize journalism now that I have some distance from a newsroom. Still I will always feel journalism is an honorable profession, a necessary one, and a career worth protecting. 

That may be why walking away from a full-time reporting job was one of the hardest things I ever did.

After 11 years and one of the scariest economic periods in recent history, I made the decision least expected of me. Never much of a risk-taker where my job was concerned, I took a leap. I had begun to feel like I had lost all control of my career path. Despite the decade I invested in the organization, the heart and soul I put into everything I did there - I felt like a placeholder counted on to fill a need when and where one might be left. That wasn't exactly why I chose to go into Journalism and wasn't enough to keep me there.

My identity had been so wrapped up in my job, that it was hard to separate myself, from what I did for a living. But I knew I needed to make a change. I craved new skills, a new environment with challenges and experiences beyond what I would find there.

 I had embraced social media as a tech-obsessed early adopter in a brave new world occupied by Facebook fans and Twitter followers. I was eager to see if that Journalism degree really translated into other careers like I had convinced my parents it might back when I was in college.

As it turns out, public relations really did feel like a flipside to the coin. The insight, the relationships I'd made along the way, the AP style rules drilled relentlessly into my brain - it all went far. Coming into public relations at a time of significant change spurred by social media allowed me the confidence and creativity I needed when others in the field worked to catch up.

Talk about perfect timing.

My days went from typing up my byline and writing dozens of stories a week to booking meetings in a board room and advising clients from one city to the next. Instead of planning what stories to cover and setting up interviews, I would have to learn how to use a new voice.

This voice is much louder but the professional behind it still listens and takes in the full scope of what's happening, what's impacting my clients, before planning the next move together.

Seasonal shifts aren't so definitive anymore. In fact, time zips by much too fast. I crave downtime more than anything.

Anytime I am approached to mentor or meet someone who is starting out or thinking of making a big move in his or her career, I don't hesitate to say this:

Embrace change. Be open to it and go after it with all you have. Trust in the skills you have. Gain those you want. We whittle away or waste far too much time over-thinking, worrying or asking what-if.

Just get started.

Name a time you made a major change and it turned out even better than you ever imagined.