When we speak about business in the book ‘Balance is BS’ what we are referring to is your vocation. — whatever your main daily occupation is, whether you have a job, run a business or pursue a different kind of endeavour. It also covers how you handle the responsibility of being a breadwinner and prioritize what to do with your money.
“I get bored easily and I like learning. No surprise there. So I’ll tell you a career secret of mine: I don’t actually choose my next career move based on my past experience. I base it on my mentor’s approach: life design. Define what you’re passionate about right now, go research it as someone outside the industry, define the problem, find a solution and go about fixing it,” Tamara explains.
If you can see a better way of doing things—for yourself or for the place you work—don’t worry if it hasn’t been done that way before. People follow the same old traditional pathways and wonder why they don’t get different outcomes. If you want to see different results you have to change the way you do things. So don’t be afraid to start with your own career.
Most of us pick an industry or a career path based on our previous experience or interest, then try and find a role within that industry that works for us. Try it the other way around! Think about the skills you have and the way you like to work, and see if you can match that to an industry or role that will allow you to operate that way.
It’s exactly the same if you’re thinking of buying or starting a business. Instead of coming up with an idea then trying to make it work, why don’t you go out and research the market. Find out what the gaps are, find out what’s trending, then go out and find a business that you can shape to fit that. You’ve got a much better chance of success that way.
Passion is important. If you get bored with what you’re doing, you won’t do it well. But often we focus too much on the industry or the job title and not enough on the type of work or daily activities we’ll be doing.
We’ve all heard that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. That might be true, but reinventing your career does NOT mean you have to start over again from zero. Tamara Loehr’s mentor and contributor to the book, Jeff Hoffman, talks about how easy it can be to train in something new and switch careers: as you go through your career, you create a ‘toolbox’ of skills. When you want to change tracks, you can pick up your toolbox and take it to another job site.
Most businesses and industries have similar challenges: they’re just dressed up as different products and services. Valuable skills—such as managing people, holding a role on a board, setting KPIS and doing strategy, sales and marketing—can be taken anywhere. Should you want to redesign your life, take your toolbox and go learn about a new industry. You won’t be going in empty-handed.
“People think that it might take them three or four years to transition into a new industry. I’ve found that I’m able to do it in a lot less time, because I take my toolbox and then all I have to do is learn about that sector. More importantly, I’m looking at the industry from the outside, not having a long history of working in it, and that’s why I usually think of different ways to do things. Without the baggage of ‘We’ve always done it this way,’ I’ll think of different ways to approach the problems that I want to solve in that sector,” Tamara explains.
So when you want to change things up and look at a new career or sell a business and try something new, don’t think of it as ‘starting again’. Yes, you’ll need to get yourself across a new industry, learn about trends, competitors and everything else, but you already start miles ahead when you turn up with your already-refined skills.
No more excuses for saying, “I studied X in college, therefore I will be in that industry or role for the rest of my career”. If that role doesn’t excite you anymore, doesn’t fit your current stage in life and tick your requirements, then reinvest in your career. Redesign your life. Tamara does it on average every seven years as her passions and interests change, and she wants her business to provide her different things.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done before: right now, where do your skills fit best? Which industry or role is going to give you what you want out of work? Pick something that needs what you have, and change the rules of the game to suit the way you want to play.
It’s like those books ‘chose your own adventure’. Define what tools and skills you have, list those and then decide what most excited and interests you right now. Don’t start searching job titles, seek out industry of interest. Then grab that handy and valuable tool box and show up on a brand new job site.