“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”
“Trust the process” is a term that I’ve heard over and over again, especially as I’ve gotten older. It’s a saying that’s been shared with me (and probably with you) to help you get through some kind of professional or personal transition. And I’ve found it extremely annoying for one main reason: no one really ever explains what “the process” is!
And it wasn’t until I reflected on a professional leap of faith that I truly understood what that process was for me.
I also realized that there’s a much better saying for the process of control, patience, accountability, and faith that it takes to truly allow yourself to figure things out and dream big.
I call it, “Give it a year.”
Let me explain what I mean by telling you about my first big professional transition from a secure a job to the unknown with the promise that I would give myself a year to figure it out.
L to R: 1. Pictured with Celine one of my seventh grade students. 2 Freddy was one of my favorite students who I taught in my first year as an eight grade English Teacher. 3.&4. The last week of me teaching, my students left me letters and notes all over the classroom.
From Teacher to Sales:
I graduated from college the year the stock market crashed and no one was hiring for the marketing or creative job of my dreams so I decided to get my teaching certification. I was working as a middle school English teacher for two years before I got the urge to try something new. But I was conflicted, I liked teaching and my students, and I liked the security, but I also knew that I wanted more. So I started looking. And it wasn’t long before the job that I had wanted since I was in college – the one that would give me the chance to grow a strong network, sharpen my sales skill, and work in a field I was excited about finally came within reach. It was a sales job in the spirits industry.
So there I was – a pretty young person having to make a choice between leaving a job or not but also with the moral choice between doing good as an educator or selling out to sell booze.
And it’s pretty funny because I went to two people who were authorities in the two different realms to kind of get their sign-offs/thoughts.
On was my former co-worker, Kimberly Johnson. We worked in the same department and I let her know that I got the job offer, but that I was thinking of not taking it because I’d have to leave the school year early. Her response, "Worry about number one: Yourself," gave me the courage and confidence to leave. She reminded me that this was my life and that opportunities like this might not come around again. I thank Kimberly so much for the advice she gave me. The other was my mom. I remember how anxious I was when I had to break the news to her. She’s a tad judgy (but whose mom isn’t?) so I was really worried about how she’d deal with the idea of me pushing liquor for a living. But she listened and understood.
Throughout the decision-making process, I think that I had already made up my mind. I recognized that not only was I ready for a move but that my passion for the classroom wasn’t what it was before. And the longer that I kept putting off this move, the more likely it was that my frustrations would affect my performance and ability to be a great teacher.
So after explaining myself to these two important people and doing some deep thinking, I was ready. And two weeks before spring break I submitted my letter of resignation and left.
I started in my new job as a liquor sales rep with a pay cut. And while I knew that this wasn’t the ideal financial situation, I saw it as a short-term investment that was going to pay off. Within the first year, I was one of the top salespeople in the state and was even getting job offers from competitors. That's when I knew I had made the best choice for my future.
And by the time I left my career to embark on entrepreneurship, my salary had nearly doubled and was making as much money as a teacher with 20 years on the job.
L to R: 1. In San Antonio with Cointreau. 2. The Heart of Cognac event. 3. Platform it speaking series, where Remy Martin was the liquor sponsor. 4. In Chicago with my team members for our division meeting.
Now, does my jump from one career to another say that I’m unreliable or that I lack the professionalism to stick it out? Or does it say that I’m curious and willing to bet on myself?
I operate from the standpoint that it’s the latter. (Granted, I’ve always left my jobs on good terms, and learned and grown for the better because of them. And I recommend you do too). But the key to being successful in my transition and with my decision was agreeing to give it a year and creating a process to get me through the year. Often I felt emotionally overwhelmed by taking a chance on myself. And really overwhelmed by having to make the decision to leave a place where I might be a little unhappy but secure for the chance at what I really wanted. This is also true when it comes to relationships, friendships, and even our health.
We make up excuses for why we don't go after what we really want.
But the truth is if we are good enough, then will never know how good we are until we try. Which is why if I’m ever going to do anything big, I give it a year. I assess where I am and if there hasn't been any progress, then I work to figure out what’s next.
In this way, I try to create a roadmap to measure if I’m reaching success.
This is the process.