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How to Change Careers: a Real Life Story (Part 2)

Written by Kris Kirilova

Kris is a counselor & owner of Career Life Choices – a counseling practice in Arlington Heights, IL.

This is the 2nd part of making a career change, featuring a guest blog by Tess Vlaeva, sharing her career transition with us. Part One features career counselor insights on how to change your career.  Both articles will give you different perspectives and motivate you to take some steps forward.

Late last year I contemplated leaving my comfortable corporate job as Treasury Analyst to pursue something different! I didn’t know what that would be – only that I needed a change. Coming from a Bulgarian background, career counseling was not something I understood and accepted. Despite my skepticism,  I ended up working with a career counselor over a 3 month period. I wanted to better understand my strengths, weaknesses and passions in life, and to make an informed decision about my professional life. You might say that I could have figured it out on my own, but I needed the guidance and support through this process. I felt stuck!

I was skeptical at first, but my counselor was able to help me look inwards and understand what specific items energized me at work. She always said “Think of yourself as a lamp, what activities light you up?” Pretty quickly, I realized that I was unhappy because my role was very repetitive, and my company was happy with the status quo. On the contrary, I was energized by constant change, and having a positive impact in the world and in people’s lives. That was the first step in my journey to making a career change.

After the rude awakening that my job would never satisfy me, except for my comfortable paycheck, I made a commitment to explore my options. My career counselor advised me to connect with several professionals including a Mortgage broker and a Financial advisor. After a few phone interviews, I was able to gather the pros and cons of each position that I was interested in, and determine which best suited my requirements in a profession.

The decision became clear! I was going to get my licenses and become a financial planner to individuals and small business owners. I had a passion for investing and planning. After all I started planning for retirement at 20 but I never connected the dots that I could make a viable career out of my hobby. The next step was kicking fear to the curb!

My biggest fear was giving up the paycheck! In practice for my new career, I re-arranged our family budget so my husband’s paycheck could support us in my first year in business. We had a baby on the way too, so being disciplined and methodical was a necessity. I used MINT (a free app) to set up a budget for every category, from our mortgage to our discretionary spending. I  implemented this while I was still in my corporate job to see if the changes were feasible. Once you are committed to making a change for the better and equipped with a plan, the sky is the limit. I gave my notice two months later and the rest just worked itself out. Some days are hard, and changing careers isn’t easy, but if you have a big “WHY” and a good plan you will succeed.

Many of you might have similar feelings, being “stuck” in a job or career you don’t like, not being fulfilled by your limiting job description, wanting to have a positive impact in others’ lives or simply wanting to follow your passion.

Fear is a powerful force holding us hostage, whether it’s the fear of change, the fear of giving up a stable paycheck, or the fear of failure. One way to take charge is to ask for help, because oftentimes someone on the outside might see what we don’t – the endless possibilities if we just have a plan.

As you think about your New Year resolutions, consider what you want your professional life to look like, and don’t be afraid to reach high!

~Tess Vlaeva


If you missed the first part of this series, review the counselor’s insights on how to make a career change.

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