During a time when Americans work 40 to 50 hours a week, social networking has become the new phone call, and texting makes an individual accessible at all hours, it is easy to become wrapped up in the daily grind. However, there is a growing movement of individuals who see the light at the end of the tunnel, and strive to create more out of their work week than just collecting a paycheck.
The images of power suits and a corner office no longer define our working world. Some individuals are opting for creative stimulation, a flexible work schedule and a job that makes them happy, as opposed to substantial financial or promotional gain. And the numbers don’t lie.
A 2006 study by the Department of Labor revealed workers between ages 18 and 35 change jobs an average of 10 times. The 2010 U.S. Census revealed that 10.3 million of us work as independent contractors, 10.1 million individuals are self-employed, and 5.9 million people work from the comfort of their homes, as compared to the 1990 Census, where 4.1 million worked from home and 8.7 million were self-employed. It seems as though the daily grind is making a transition from cubicle-driven to something that resembles professional freedom: creating your own success.
Why Make a Change?
Christopher Bennett, owner and creator of Ignite Your Life, notes if you’re not doing something you love, you begin to die internally. “I really think a lot of depression we hear about is not so much because we are depressed psychologically, we are depressed spiritually,” he says. “If one is not true to themselves, they begin to lose themselves.”
Bennett, who incorporated Ignite Your Life last year and has been coaching people to find their true passion for the last 10 years, knows what it is like to make a drastic career change. “I used to feel energized, engaged and excited about my corporate position, and as that energy began to fade, it became very clear that my inner happiness was definitely more important than continuing on the corporate path, regardless of financial gain or stability.”
Through Ignite Your Life, Bennett now provides one-on-one coaching to individuals and provides key note speaking and workshops on the integration of one’s personal journey as it relates to how they are expressing themselves in life. Bennett says the first step to making a career or life change is to understand what has meaning and what are just unmet needs. “Ventures to fulfill unmet needs are those ventures that fail. It is important to understand what do I value and are the values I’m putting forth really just unmet needs,” Bennett says. “When you go to do something as bold as going out on your own be very clear of what is driving you and why. Make sure there is a truth to what you are going after.”
Farra Allen, creator of Life Works School of Coaching, says a new definition of success is when people have an inner experience where they are connected to their purpose and their passion. “They begin to feel good about themselves and they focus more on contributing to others,” he says. “They move from a need base, where they are fulfilling their own needs, to a give base, where they look to contribute with no attachment and actually begin to feel the act of giving.”
Allen goes on to explain, “So much of our success is predicated on what one gets. Did they get the raise? Did they get the promotion?” Allen says. “What we focus on is having people connect deep inside themselves. Once one starts to experience inner fulfillment, people start to feel special, but they don’t need anything coming from the outside to validate. You start to attract more good things in life.”
Creating Your Own Success
For many people out there, they began their career in one direction but life changes have led them on a very different path. “Some people just want more satisfaction in their everyday lives,” Allen says. “Listen to one’s calling. We’re all here for a certain reason, and if you listen, you can get in touch with what that is. Formulate that. Design your business around that. Incorporate that into your everyday walk of life. Once you come to own that, once you start to express that in the world, one starts to experience fulfillment inside. That’s priceless.”
A Relaxing Retreat
Tetia McMichael lives and works in a location where many would love to visit, and others would covet to reside: the Smoky Mountains. As the creator and owner of Lakeview at Fontana, a resort and spa right outside Bryson City, N.C., McMichael handles all program details, from yoga to an afternoon wine and cheese tradition and works hands-on with the staff and guests. Her flexible schedule also allows McMichael to spend “as much time outside as possible.”
“I live on the property, so it’s only a short walk down a wooded drive to the resort,” McMichael says. “Everyday I’m checking in with our staff, getting to know our guests over an afternoon glass of wine, finding new ways for making Lakeview even more of a paradise than it already is…that’s the best workday I can possibly imagine.” McMichael stumbled on the 1950’s resort more than 15 years ago, and what started out as a renovation project, turned into a fulltime resort spa. “The property was falling apart, but there was this magic to it.”
Before making the jump into a full-time resort owner, McMichael worked at an advertising agency in Missouri as a graphic designer, but says she knew a desk job did not suit her well. “I was disappointed by everyone’s dissatisfaction in their jobs,” she says. “I felt suffocated being inside all day, with little time to take a walk outside or even move around the office. Here, our doors and windows are wide open…and I get to spend a lot of time outside every day, drinking in this truly gorgeous location.”
And McMichael, who has never had a doubt that owning the resort was the right path for her, says that she is now in her element when hosting guests, maintaining the resort and just being on the property. To others looking to make a change, she offers this advice: “Life’s too short to be unhappy,” she says. “Knowing that you’re unhappy and wanting your life to be different is just the beginning. The idea of actually making the change can be overwhelming. But you don’t have to make this radical shift and uproot your life all at once. I’m a firm believer in posting intentions and making them known. It’s worked very well for me. Jump in and don’t look back!”
A Change of Heart
Others have used personal struggles to create a career change. At the age of 55, Nick Lore of Berkeley Lake, a father of three, received the shock of his life when he was diagnosed with a rare form of prostate cancer. Two years into treatment, it looked as though Lore was not going to make it. Lore’s response? To head out on the road with his four-year-old son, Andrew. “I thought, if I’m going to die, I’m going to spend time with my son,” Lore says. “To make sure he understands what life is all about.”
The former mortgage banker and Wall Street executive hit the road for fifteen months, taking off for three or four days at a time, with Andrew by his side. Lore’s wife, Mandy, would join the crew on longer trips. “I learned in 15 months the joy of making time,” Lore says. “We rode the rails, we went to the ocean. We went to the top of mountains. It was all pretty inexpensive. The very simple things in life are so wonderful.”
Lore was contacted about his journey by Les Hewitt, who co-authored The Power of Focus with Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup for the Soul. After a review of his journal, Lore was told he was “a good editor away from a good book.” A year of searching for a publisher resulted in the publication of Lore’s book Roll the Windows Down, It’s Raining, and is now in its third printing.
The now-author, who is nine years in remission, says every time he thinks the hype is over, someone calls for him to be a group speaker or do a signing. “On a weekly basis, locally, people come up to me and say they are changing their life because of this book,” Lore says.
As for the business world, Lore still holds a positive view of corporations. “I got cancer because I worked 70 hours a week, I didn’t exercise, I didn’t get enough rest. My exercise was running through airports,” he says. “That wasn’t my company’s fault, that was my fault. I have slowed down, but I only know I’m old when I look in the mirror. Old is relative.”
Lore now works a non-profit he started called “Here’s Help”, an entity that assists individuals who are having trouble keeping their mortgages. He also runs a consulting business for banks. “It’s so important that people evaluate what is their God-given talent. Don’t worry about money, the money will come,” Lore says. “Find what you have a passion for. Find what you are good at…Find what suits you to work. Then contentment will follow.” A total career change is not the only way to incorporate your passions into your work life. Do what is best for you.
Painting A Picture
Those looking to find passion in their jobs are coming out in mass. Pat Fiorello left the confines of an office job and steady salary to create, as she says, “a world of beauty, love and inspiration.” With an MBA from Harvard, Fiorello set out at an early age to take on the corporate world, working first for Nabisco as the Vice President of Marketing for 15 years, and moving on to Coca-Cola in Atlanta, where she spent another five years in the same position. As an intelligent and talented businesswoman, Fiorello enjoyed assisting with the growth of Coca-Cola’s franchise. However, around age 40, something began to change. Fiorello began to ask herself, “Do I want to keep doing this? Is there something out there that would be more satisfying?”
After all, with so much experience behind her, five years at Coca-Cola meant five years of meetings, checking a constant flow of voicemail and email, and answering urgent pages. “You never really got turned off from it,” Fiorello says. “There were a lot of ‘have to’s.’ You have to go to this meeting. You have to fit this in your schedule. It was high stress and it was fun in some ways, but at the end of the day, I didn’t feel like I was doing what made me excited. I wanted more control over what I was doing with my life. Something that lined up with my purpose.”
Fast forward to today, Fiorello continues to strive to fulfill her purpose as a creator of beauty and inspiration. In 2003, she created Fiorello Art & Design, where she manages her website, sells her watercolor and oil paintings, works with various galleries around town and teaches workshops across the globe, from Tuscany and Monet’s Garden in France to the Caribbean. Fiorello, who reconnected with painting as an adult, also teaches a course for aspiring artists, old and young, called Art for Non-Artists.
“You just come to a point where you reflect on what you’re doing, and you don’t ask yourself ‘can I do something,’ but ‘why am I doing this?” she says. “You’ve got one life and it’s a short life. There’s a lot of pressure to do what people expect. But now, with a solid plan, you can really create the life you want.”
A Family Tradition
Carol Aebersold of Atlanta grew up with an elf on her shelf. And not just any elf: Aebersold grew up with one of Santa’s elves. As a Christmas tradition in her family, she spent her holidays with the ever-watchful eye of Santa’s little helper, making sure to be extra good so Santa would bring gifts. When Aebersold married, she took the elf doll with her and introduced the tradition to her
“It was so much fun,” daughter Chanda Bell says. “My sister, brother and I created memories that will last a lifetime. I remember talking to the elf as a child and apologizing for bad behavior before it got back to Santa. I remember telling the elf what I wanted for Christmas.”
This Christmas tradition became an international phenomenon in September 2005, as Aebersold and Bell introduced The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition to the world, printed in its
first book edition.
“One day, we were sitting at my kitchen table, and I was feeling the effects of my empty nest and wondering what to do with my time,” Aebersold says. “Chanda was sitting across from me, and my elf was still on the shelf in the kitchen. Chanda just perked up and said we should write about the tradition, and that’s where it started.”
An agent joined the team, and after some push back from big publication companies, Aebersold and Bell decided to take matters into their own hands. “Our agent suggested we self-publish, so with complete ignorance and enthusiasm, we did,” Aebersold says.
Thus enters Creatively Classic Activities and Books (CCA & B), Aebersold and Bell’s publishing company. Bell acts as CEO, working with budgets, running employee meetings, and overseeing product development and their product line. Editor-in-Chief Aebersold reviews press releases, assists with projects, and works with the submissions department.
Aebersold and Bell offer the following for those looking to take on their own business ventures: “You have to truly believe in your dream,” Aebersold says. “One has to be extremely flexible. Just because you’ve decided this is the path to take, there are many ways to arrive at the same goal.”
“No one is going to believe in your goal as much as you do,” Bell adds. “What path you choose is ultimately up to you. The biggest mistake is trying to tackle the whole world at one time. For starting a business, grow where you’re planted. Take one step at a time.”
The Clean-Up Act
Fairburn entrepreneur Marie C. Gelin, creator of Stinky Boyz natural hygiene products for boys and young men, used her financial situation to “reinvent herself” and create a successful career. In 2007, as many struggled with an ailing economy, Gelin saw her match-making and real estate businesses falter.
Gelin, who had watched her sister struggle to make her young boys shower, took a simple idea of creating sports-shaped soaps, and turned it into a hygiene phenomenon with active kids. “This was an untouched and overlooked market, and boys needed something to call their own,” she says. “We’re now creating great hygiene habits at a young age.” In 2008, a partner joined the team and provided the financial backing Gelin needed to jump-start her idea. “I am a spiritual person. If you think big, big things will happen,” she says. “To see a stranger come invest in me, it was a miracle. Sometimes you have to go down to come back up. To see this product come to life from just a drawing, that can’t be anything but having faith in yourself and your Heavenly Father.”
Stinky Boyz, which includes a line of soccer, baseball, basketball and football-shaped shampoos with conditioner, is set to have a deodorant come out this spring. But Gelin isn’t stopping there. “It’s really making a difference, and I love to hear stories from parents,” Gelin says. “Stinky Girlz will be out in 2012!”