The First Step to Starting a New Career that You Love

Self on 12.26.12
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Image: Sarah Fernandez

As the New Year approaches, many people are thinking about what they’d like to accomplish in 2013. For some it will be to lose weight. For others it will be to get organized. And for others still it will be to get out of a career that they don’t like or that may be taking over their life. Lately, I’ve been reflecting on the happy accident that has brought me to my current career of freelance writing and designing, and I’m so happy that I took that first step that has landed me where I am today, even though that step didn’t exactly take me in the direction I thought I was headed.

My first foray into writing wasn’t with the intention of becoming a writer, odd as that may sound. I had lost my job as a buyer and manager of a children’s boutique five months earlier, and I was sitting at home with a new baby and a toddler looking for a new job. My passion has always been home décor, and I’ve always dreamed of opening my own home store. As much as I was enjoying my children, I was starting to think that I wasn’t doing myself any favors by not doing anything while I was home with them, even if it was seemingly impossible to find a job as The Great Recession wasn’t benefitting anyone. I decided to start a home design blog to keep myself “in the game,” build my resume, and hopefully to start building a following for that day down the road when I open a store.

The simple act of starting the blog and writing about the products I loved lead to me building a vault of writing samples. It wasn’t long after that that a local magazine asked if I was interested in becoming their online editor. Realizing that I could potentially make a career out of freelance writing, I started looking for more writing jobs and began picking up regular gigs for local online news sites and magazines, both on the topic of design as well as other news stories. Not only that, but my blog started leading to interior design and wedding planning jobs. People started recommending me to their friends because of what they’d seen from my blog. I had found a way to do what I love while still having the flexibility of being home when my kids get off from school. And just over three years later, I’m a regular contributor to Parentables, have written for national magazines, and spoken at conferences, all while still keeping up my own blog and design business.

The first step to starting a new career is always the hardest to take, but you don’t have to give up the stability of your current job to start down a new career path. For me, starting a blog was what launched me down the right road. For others it may be taking a class in a new field that you are interested in. Whether it is gardening or cooking or web design, taking a class will give you a feel for whether you are truly passionate about a subject while also introducing you to other people with a similar passion, and likely more connections within the field you want to pursue. If there isn’t a class offered in your area, consider asking a local garden shop, bakery, or web designer if you can be an apprentice. Whether it is paid or not, just a few hours a week will provide great experience that you can build off of.

If you want to make a career change, you’ve got to take the first step, but it doesn’t have to be a giant step. Just take one step into the world that you want to be a part of and follow the path where it leads you.

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