Career Transitions and Job Fit

Posted 24 October 2023 by
Melissa Summer, The Myers-Briggs Company

1 minute read

What’s the best way to approach career transitions? How are these transitions different during early, mid and end career stages? 

In this episode of The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, we’re joined by Catherine Rains, professional artist, prior career counselor and coach, and Associate Consultant for The Myers-Briggs Company

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In this episode, Catherine dives into all things career transition and about how your own personal growth affects job fit

“I think we’re always going in and out of career fit because we keep growing,” shares Catherine during the discussion. “And as we grow, we try other things, and maybe think ‘Oh, this doesn’t quite fit anymore.’ Then we adjust. But that shifting in our career is always something that gets us closer to who we are.”

As a professional artist, Catherine works primarily in intuitive collage as a medium. If you’re interested in learning more or trying your hand at collage, check out the Collage Kickstart, a free 5-day collage online workshop:

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Intro: Welcome to The Myers-Briggs Company Podcast, where we bring together thought leaders, psychologists, and personality experts from around the world to talk about work life, home life, and how to get the best from life.


Melissa Summer (MS): In this episode, we dive into career transitions, addressing the most common questions that arise when contemplating a change. We'll explore the indicators for the right time to switch careers and offer strategies to identify a new path that aligns with your passions and strengths. From gaining experience in a different field to marketing transferable skills, we'll discuss practical approaches to bridge the gap, whether you're just starting out, mid-career, or looking into retirement and encore careers. We also touch on managing setbacks and uncertainties, empowering you to embrace change with confidence. And here to help me do that today, I have Catherine Rains.

Catherine is an accomplished consultant with extensive experience in organizational development, career development, and team building. She collaborates with Fortune 500 companies, universities, and nonprofit organizations to design and implement effective development initiatives. She has over 25 years of experience in instructional design, training and development, and program development, and is highly skilled in using assessments like the MBTI [Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®] and Strong Interest Inventory® assessment.

Previously, Catherine served as a Director of Career Services at Winthrop University with a master's degree in counseling, specializing in career development. Catherine excels as an organizational trainer and career development coach. So welcome, Catherine.

Catherine Rains (CR): Thank you. I appreciate that.

MS: So just to start, first question. I feel like it's the big question when it comes to career transitions, which most people want to ask, which is: How do I know if it's the right time to change careers? Is there a right time?

CR: You know, I read that question in preparation for talking to you and I was thinking, I'm not sure if there is a right time. I think it's a series of self-discovery where you discover whether you're in the right place or not. I mean, it happens different for everybody, but my own experience is that I find that it's the right time when there's some kind of thing inside, some dissidence that says, “Hmm, this isn't right. Like something about the job I'm in doesn't totally match who I am.” And that was most true when I was younger. So my first several jobs in my twenties, after I got out of college, I did all the career development tests and I figured out, you know, where I should be. And basically, it was marketing, was where I thought I should be . . .

MS: Welcome to the marketing club.

CR: Yes. So each one of my first few marketing jobs, they had a component of what I loved. But each time there was something that was missing. And late in my twenties, I ended up job hopping every year or two. I job hopped because there was something enough that wasn't there that I needed to find, that missing piece.

And I finally found it when I found career development. So I got a job in a college – that actually is marketing by the way, when you do career development, it's all marketing. It's just working with students, marketing them. And that was like the perfect combination of everything I was, which was marketing; it was counseling and coaching; and it was a kind of counseling that I loved. So at that moment, I had found my fit. However, we keep growing. You know, we keep changing, we keep growing, we discover new things about ourselves. So after a bit of time in that job – it was four years – I decided, I don't want to spend my whole life just being a career counselor, right? I want to be a bigger career counselor.

So I went for a director job of career counselors at a bigger university. And almost instantly, I knew that that wasn't the right fit anymore. So it was the right topic. It was the right job, but I don't like managing people. But it took me about five years to figure that one out. I thought it was just [that] I landed the wrong university maybe, I don’t know. I was trying to figure out why I wasn't satisfied anymore, even though it was basically the same job. It was just bigger. So to answer your question, Melissa, I don't know if there's a right time. I think it's a constant looking inward and saying, “What parts of where I am fit me?”

And when I say “fit me,” do I feel at peace with, do they light me up? Do I want to go to work every day? Which parts of it make me feel alive and which parts don't? And I think that changes throughout our life. It's not a one-time Then the question is, when we find a part of where we are that doesn't work, how can we adjust that?

And it doesn't always mean changing jobs by the way. I've jumped jobs probably prematurely a couple times when I could have just gone for hobbies. And to fill that void, whatever it was. And eventually, that is what happened. I’m jumping ahead, but that is what happened. I followed a hobby and the hobby actually turned into a career.

MS: Okay, so I want to hear more about that. What was this hobby that you were interested in and how did that turn into a career? Where are you at now?

CR: So I was a career development director. This was in my kind of mid-thirties. Totally realized- I  had realized that, oh my God, I had somehow gotten in alignment, but I was not in alignment anymore with who I was. But I was at a place in my life where it wasn't really appropriate to change jobs. I had actually moved cities. I'd moved eight hours from my last job to this job, moved my partner with me. And so I couldn't change jobs. It's not always appropriate to just flip.

So I started doing career development on myself. And a classic career development exercise is you write down all the things you loved to do as a kid, but you weren't told to do them. I love this exercise by the way. I still love this thing. So I wrote down things like I loved playing “kick the can in the dark” with my friends and I loved making forts and I loved playing Barbie dolls and I loved making one collage when I was 10 years old. By the way, I still have a picture of myself holding this one collage. I'd only made one, but I loved it.

It was so much fun, but it was so illogical to think about this as anything, because in my family I was considered unartistic. My parents could both draw, paint, and I thought that's what an artist did. They drew and painted. But a collage? Who can't tear up paper? That's what I pictured collage as. And I was pretty desperate by the way. I was really unhappy with my job. I didn't know what I was going to do. I couldn't change jobs at the moment because I was committed financially to being where I was. So I said, okay let me follow the thread. This is one thing that gave me joy as a kid – let me try it. So one Saturday, I pulled all the catalogs in the house together and all the old magazines and I ripped them up and I created a collage. First one I had done in, I think 30 years, since I was a kid. Maybe 20 years. And I had so much freaking fun. I was just like, “Oh my God, this is amazing!”

And I said, what could I do to get that feeling all the time? That's what I want. I said I don’t know how else I could get it – let me just keep making collages. I don't know- you know, I'm not going to make money at this. I'm just going to have fun.

And by the way, that is what I think is the key for many of us: don't go for the big thing. Don’t go for the next big job. Think about what lights you up. And it could be anything, but it's usually a hobby or something you might not have tried before. It could be cross stitch. I mean, it could be anything: gardening, cooking, but it has to light you up. And by following the thread of what lights you up, eventually that leads to something.

And by the way, I'm not saying it goes fast because it was very, very slow for me. I made these collages – and by the way, they're very, very juvenile, awful collages. Although I didn't know that at the time. To me, they were like phenomenal because they were expressing who I was. I was having- I was so in love with them. But I did it for over three years – just created tons and tons of these collages. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “Oh my God, wouldn't it be great if you could actually make living doing this? Wouldn't that be the bomb?” But you know, how could I make a living making these collages?

So eventually I did leave the college job. I actually networked myself in a very passive way into The Myers-Briggs Company, actually. So I got a job working with The Myers-Briggs [Company], which by the way, was the dream job. You know, if you're going to have a job and get paid by somebody, I loved this job. I loved it the entire time I worked there.

I was there off and on in different ways for 20 years. So it was an incredibly satisfying job. However, in the background. The art thing was absolutely always the thing that lit me up. When I did that, I was in love with life – most of the time. So it was always this kind of inkling, like little niggling thing. Like, how could you make a living that way? Could I make a living that way? I don't know if I could make a living that way. So very slowly, I started following the hobby. You know, I would take a lot of art classes by other collage artists while I'm traveling the country doing corporate development and training – and loving that life actually. But it wasn't the thing that lit me up the most. Not by a long shot. Collage was it.

And eventually, I was able to follow that all the way and actually pursue that full time. But even pursuing it full time, I think what I learned along the way was that, at least for me, just jumping ship and just going for it – like, “Okay, let's just do it. Let's just make a living as an artist.” I learned that it wasn't right for me. I needed to have a backup plan. Like I needed to save all my money. I needed to learn how people actually make a living as an artist. I had to do a lot of background work over about a decade to really get all my ducks in a row so that it was safe for me to leave a very secure job.

And I actually did that at age 57. And when I did quit, I still- I kept in contact with The Myers-Briggs Company. In fact, I still do. I continue to do part time work, but very part time like one week every other month. I mean, it's pretty- it's pretty nothing. But it's enough to make me feel secure financially so that I don't have to rely on the art, although the art does support me.

MS: Oh that's awesome. It makes me think too, that there's probably- and I don't know if this is something that you can measure or figure out for yourself, but it sounds like there's also some level of security, comfort, risk-taking versus risk-averse when it comes to career transitions – that some people might be more risk-taking and be like, “Oh yeah, I'm going to jump. I'm going to try it and see how it goes.” Where some people might be risk-averse and value security more and say, “Okay, I'm going to make this a longer term transition so that I feel comfortable.”

CR: Yeah. I think it depends on what age you are too. I was working for The Myers-Briggs Company and I had been there four years at the time. And I was doing the art on the side and I was 40 years old. And I said, you know what? When am I going to do it if I don't do it now? 40 was like this trigger. And I said, you know what? I have nothing to lose. I had a partner, who had health insurance. That was my backup plan, that he had enough money. We weren't rich by any means, but you know, we could pay our mortgage and we had health insurance. So I did jump. I was very un-risk averse, you know, it was like, let's just do it.

And I did it for four years. I was a full-time artist kind of in between stages here, and I did make a living, but it was incredibly, incredibly stressful. Because the whole time I was thinking, how am I going to make it? I need to sell more art. What's my next gallery show? I eventually went back to The Myers-Briggs Company and worked full time again for over a decade just because life told me to. I had different life circumstances that I needed to go back. But what I learned in the interim was that I don't want to jump ship again. But that's probably an age thing.

I realized that at some point in your life, you kind of need a foundation. And so by staying with The Myers-Briggs Company, I liked the work, but it never left my brain that I wanted to be a full time artist. I was always there. And so, but the whole time that I was working, I was. Setting the foundation to do it again. I always knew that that was my life. My true love, you know, where I wanted to be.

MS: Your true love. Well, that actually kind of aligns with one of the questions I was going to ask, which is: from your perspective – I know we mentioned age – but how might career transitions look different? If it's a student who's transitioning from being a student to maybe going into the first career, versus a midlife career transition, versus maybe someone who's looking to retire and they're looking at either an encore career or looking at something else like volunteering – there's a kind of different stages. Do you have any advice for people at those specific stages, or maybe what might look different at those different stages to consider?

CR: The core of it, I think is the same all the way through. And that is to consistently look at what lights you up. It's like a self-analysis. And actually two of the tools that The Myers-Briggs Company publishes were instrumental in me finding art, to be honest. I didn't include that in my original story, but I actually took the Strong [assessment] very early on in my life, in my early thirties. And it pointed me toward art.

MS: That’s the Strong Interest Inventory.

CR: The Strong Interest Inventory, right. So the Strong basically aligns your interests with career fields. And that instrument was the first one that actually highlighted art. And that – coupled with this memory of me doing a collage when I was 10 – I went, well, maybe I should try that. So I think whether you're 22 just getting out of college or even 18 trying to figure out your major, or you are 55, 65 thinking about the last chapter, so to speak – I think comes down to a self-analysis basically, and a constant self-analysis of what lights you up.

And sometimes we make it so big, you know. People get frozen because they think, what am I going to do the rest of my life? Like who am I and what do I want to do? And I think the clues are always there. I think they're just in our everyday experience. But we need to follow them kind of moment-to-moment. Like right now, what would be really fun to do? Maybe it's read a book. It's kind of like, how do you take the pressure off of making it so big? Like I got to find the thing as opposed to what do I really like to do?

I have a friend who's now in her seventies, but she always hated to cook her whole life. Hated to cook. She turned 60 and now she's in chef school. You know, she just loves cooking and she won't cook anything simple. Now, by the way, this is a hobby that's probably just going to be a hobby the rest of her life.

But if she had followed that same niggling when she was maybe 40 or 45, who knows what would have happened? That doesn't mean it should have happened. She had a lovely career where she was. But I think we're always being given messages from our own intuition – our own consciousness – that say, “Try that. How about that?”

A lot of it comes down to what you had mentioned earlier, risk aversion. You know, when you're in your twenties getting out of college, usually you've got a lot of- you're more willing to take risks because you have nothing to lose. You don't have a mortgage yet, maybe just a car payment. So you don't have- you can experiment more. And that certainly was my experience. You know, that's why I job hopped a bit in my twenties because I was trying to find the right fit until I did actually find a good fit. And then I didn't find a right fit.

I think we're always going in and out of a fit because we keep growing. And as we grow, we try something else and then we go, “Ooh, I don't know if that works anymore.” So then we have to adjust again. But it's always going to something that gets closer to who we are. And I honestly think assessments, finding who you are, isn't a one-stop deal. You can take assessments or do career development or go to a career counselor when you're 22. And they can help you, or you can help yourself get to the next place. And then 10 years later, the place doesn't fit anymore because you've grown and you've learned new things.

And your psyche – your consciousness – wants to grow more. This is actually based on a Jungian theory and Myers-Briggs is that yes, we have a personality that we're kind of born with, but just because you have it doesn't mean you want to stay there. That's the starting point. We are consciously or unconsciously driven to develop the opposite sides of ourselves. So throughout our life, something is always pulling us for wholeness.

That's what Jung would say. We are motivated to be whole. And so you can't just be whole when you're 22 because you're putting the pieces together like a puzzle. And when you're 55 and 65, you've got other puzzle pieces that you’ve got to put together. And at 65, I think it's the same thing. But it's always a combination of what are your economics – because there's a reality here – if you're more stable economically, you can take more chances and you can go out on a limb. It's interesting, when I first quit – well, I quit my job a second time – so I quit my Myers-Briggs job twice. When I quit it the second time, I was 57. And the whole – I was there for 12 years solid in that second chapter of Myers-Briggs – and the whole time, I was looking for: when am I going to leave? At the same time, I loved my job. So there was no question that I love training Myers-Briggs. I thought it was the ultimate job. I still think it's the ultimate job. But every single day I said, okay universe, whatever is there, make it clear when I'm supposed to go.

And I knew I wasn't supposed to go until it was crystal clear. And crystal clear for me was financial stability. I didn't want to do it again without knowing that I wasn't jumping ship, that I wasn't just like jumping off without stability financially. And that's what I had. So I didn't- I’m not rich. However, I had enough to pay my mortgage and pay my bills for a long time. And then I could focus completely on my art and just work minimally, doing very little consulting for The Myers-Briggs Company.

MS: I know you said you job hopped a bit in your twenties and then kind of went back and forth a few times with The Myers-Briggs Company and into art, and then back into The Myers-Briggs Company. When you were looking at transitioning to those different jobs, how did you figure out what skills transferred over? How did you figure out how to gain experience in career development? You wanted to go into career development, but you didn't have an experience in that area. How do you kind of find those things that cross over when they aren't obvious skills of like, “Oh, I was doing career development here. Now I'm going to do career development here.”

CR: In my experience, transferable skills are easier to find when you're younger because the older you get, the more companies or organizations want an established track record in one thing. So it's harder to pull out the transferable skills. So I've always relied on networking as my number one thing. So it's not so much a transfer. Like, I know that I could do marketing in any company. Because I have skills in marketing in all different kinds of environments, from companies to colleges. I have the skills, but would a pharmaceutical company hire me as a marketer when I don't have any marketing experience in pharmaceuticals? Maybe not, because there's a lot of people with established marketing resumes in pharmaceuticals.

However, I could get a job in pharmaceuticals. By networking myself in. And that's how I've almost always transferred myself into jobs where I didn't necessarily have so-called the “right” thing on the resume. And the way I do marketing is I just start finding people who are doing what I think I want to do. So let's say if I wanted to do pharmaceuticals, I would join a pharmaceutical organization, some kind of an association.

And I would ask every single one of my friends, who do you know in pharmaceuticals? Because everyone knows somebody in these major industries. I would say, can I just talk to them? It's called informational interviewing. I've helped so many people get into jobs that, on paper, they're not qualified for, but they actually are. They've got the skills. It's just that it's harder to market it if you look at it on paper. But if you knew someone who saw [that] you have all the right skills . . .

My husband, by the way, just actually went through the same process. He was in banking for 30 years. And banking is not the best industry to be in at this moment, so he wanted to change. And he did exactly this. He went around and talked to people. He says, you know, I'm an expert at coaching people to be the best managers they can be. That's what I'm good at. And we had a friend that actually could network him to somebody else, but on paper it doesn't look like it because he's been in banking. He's been coaching managers, but it's very specific, industry-wise.

So people talk about networking as- it almost sounds trite, like you’ve got to network yourself into jobs. I just think that's the way to go. I've helped so many people get pretty high-level jobs that on paper they're not qualified for, including myself. Almost all my jobs have come that way.


MS: It sounds like too, there's a difference between what most people define as networking as far as like, “Oh, I'm going to a networking event to meet people who might know someone who might know someone” versus what you're talking about, which is “I am going to specifically find people either in that industry or who literally have a job that is similar to the job that I want and start talking to them.”

CR: To me, it's both. But the less intimidating version of that is to make a long list of everyone you know. It doesn't matter if they're in the industry that you care about. Some of the people that I've networked with have nothing to do with what I really want to do for a living, but they know people who know people who know people who know people.

So the question is, can I start the chain? It was like, I know that I want to do this kind of work. Can you get me to the next person basically? Like who do you know that might be able to talk to me about this? By the way, I did this with art. So to make a living as an artist, I first talked to every artist I could get my hands on. I don't care what kind of art you were doing, what stage in life you were in.

MS: Anyone who was already doing it professionally and making a living from it.

CR: Exactly. Or even not making a living.

MS: Interesting.

CR: Because most of us know somebody who is making a living doing it. Even though you may not be, you know someone that is. So would you mind just introducing me? Because I just want to pick their brain. I mean, it's called informational interviewing and yeah, I'm not asking for a job from anyone. I'm just asking for like, who else should I be talking to? Because I really don't know. And by the way, that to me, is not only the best way to get a job, it's also the best way to figure out what you want to do.

So if you keep talking to people who are doing what you think you want to do, you start narrowing it down. It's like, does this really match me? When I went through this process this final time with art, the first couple of years after I quit my job after 57, I was selling art. And I was selling art for very low price points because I'm a fairly new artist, even though I've been doing it a long time.

And by talking to tons of artists – I mean, I'm on Instagram, I'm constantly talking to other people, I'm taking classes from artists – I’m asking how they make a living. Like what do you do? And I finally figured out my own niche, which took me two and a half to three years to find out where – at least in this moment – where I want to focus my energy as an artist. Which I've discovered I just love teaching, teaching art. Which really fits because I've been teaching Myers-Briggs for 25 years. And it's really, it's almost the same thing. It's just using art instead. It's all about helping people find who they really are. To me, art is a self-discovery process, just like the Myers-Briggs is.

So, you asked about how do people find a career or where they should be in different stages? I think it's one baby step at a time. Now, some people figure it out when they're 15 and they just stick with this one thing. “I've always wanted to do this” and they always do this.

They're the minority. Out of the thousands of people I've encountered in my life, most of us go through this kind of up and down. I like it. Then I don't like it. I like it. Then I don't like it. And then they adjust. It's like putting together a giant puzzle of yourself that's never finished.

So at this moment, my puzzle is: I love teaching art, particularly to people who don't really know how to do art, who are kind of newbies. I love that because their brain is blown. It's like, “Oh my God, I can do this. I never knew I could do this.” And collage lends itself to that for people because you don't have to paint or draw. Supposedly that's like the qualifications for being an artist. And collage, who can't do that? So I like turning people on to themselves, which is the same thing as Myers-Briggs, turning people on to who they already are.

MS: I feel like this – I mean, just what you're talking about so far, as far as finding yourself in career transitions – if anyone's interested, we had an episode in the first season of our podcast. I just looked it up, it's called “Finding a Career with Purpose” and it does a very deep dive – well, a much deeper dive into the Strong Interest Inventory – that talks about interest and then also the MBTI and how you can kind of pair those together.

So if you're listening and you heard about these assessments and you want to know more specifically about how those can be used for career, go ahead and listen to that episode in season one. I'm pointing, you can't see it, but I'm pointing at season one up above my shoulder. [laughter]

CR: [laughter] Can I add to that, Melissa?

MS: Yeah, please do.

CR: Because you know, I've taught and counseled with the Myers-Briggs and the Strong for decades. And I really do attribute them to my own self-awareness. I use them, particularly the Myers-Briggs. I literally use it every single day in terms of: is what I'm doing matching who I am? Basically what you were talking about, purpose. Like does this actually align with how I'm hardwired? Which is what the Myers-Briggs talks about. But the podcast you're referring to, I think is, a great idea. And also, those listening, if you are still associated with your college, like your undergraduate or your whatever, if you've got a master's degree – they all have career development offices.

MS: Oh, that's such a good point.

CR: Most colleges use the Myers-Briggs and or the Strong, or some version. In my opinion, the Myers-Briggs and the Strong are the gold standard. So like the best universities will use that in combination. And if you're an alumni of a school, you can either pay them for the services or they can refer you to a career counselor geographically. I highly recommend working with someone or just a coach, but a coach that knows assessments because the assessments, it just gives you a jump up. An assessment like the Strong or Myers-Briggs, they don't tell you what you should do, but they add to the puzzle like, “Oh, that's why I didn't like that last job. That was that one piece there.” So now you get closer to what it is you're really looking for. Because you don't want that piece. You want another piece.

MS: I have a follow up with that in that because I don't know a ton about career coaches or career development. If someone is, for example, say they're mid-career, they go back and they start working with a career development coach, how can career development coaches help with a career transition versus trying to be your own career development coach?

CR: Well, I think both can work. I have a bias toward having a coach, whether it's a career development counselor or just a coach that guides you through it. I think it speeds up the process. At least it has for me a couple of different times in my life, including right now, by the way. I have a coach, an art coach. And she's not teaching me art. She is teaching me, how do you navigate teaching art online? So when someone is going through some kind of transition or they're beginning to doubt where they are, or question where they, are having someone to guide you through the process streamlines it. Although I've done it on my own too. I've done a lot of self-analysis and starting with simple things like what did you love to do as a child? Even though it seems simple, it is an incredibly powerful thing to do. And you follow the little pearls of wisdom that you have yourself.

But if you can find someone who is skilled at doing career counseling, they can just cut out the fluff and put the patterns together. You can tell your story – “this is where I've been, this is what I like, this is what I didn't like – [and they can] give you some assessments that are powerful, like Myers-Briggs and Strong and help you figure out. It's still always you figuring it out.

A career counselor never gives you answers, but they do direct you to direct yourself so you can figure out what really is important. It's the same as counseling. People who go to therapy get the same thing. It's just that this is all about, how do you figure out what's most important in your life, at this stage in your life? Because it's not the same in different stages.

MS: I know we've talked about some practical strategies, like thinking of what you love to do when you're a child, doing informational interviews, along with networking, maybe connecting with a career development coach or professional – what about the part about the self-doubt and fear that's associated with changing careers? Because we all know, changing careers- it's our jobs. Most of us spend a lot of time, a lot of our life in the careers, and going to a new career can be intimidating. So what can people do to help minimize that doubt and build confidence to take that next step? Or to take that first step in the career transition?

CR: Well, every single person is going to handle this differently. The way that I've handled it and the way I support people who are in my life handling this is: don't jump. I can hear that phrase that goes, “Jump and the net will appear.” I actually don't think that's appropriate for a lot of people.

MS: I don’t like that phrase. [laughter]

CR: It’s funny – I know a lot of people that use it. But for me, that was actually the opposite of what I really should do. Instead of just jumping and trusting you'll figure it out – because you have to, because you're, you know, you're paddling in water and you're going to drown – instead, work your full-time job. And on the side, do a little bit of what you think you might want to do on the side, like you volunteer somewhere. You start a hobby. You join a group, a professional group of artists or of architects, whatever it is you think you want to do. Start associating with those people.

For me – and this is only my way of doing it – I've just done it the other way too though. I have jumped without a net and it was fine. I think it would have been better back then if I had just laid more groundwork, known what I was stepping into as opposed to drowning a little bit.

By the way, when you change, it always feels like you're drowning a little bit. It’s like, “Oh my God, I don't know if I can do this. It’s a totally new thing.” But personally, I like to have a little bit of groundedness around it. Like I know a little bit what I'm doing and maybe that's part of age and wisdom that I'm now no longer willing to take so many risks that I was in my younger days.

And I think taking risks is good too. A lot of it has to do with where you are financially, where you are in partnership, if you're in partnership with someone else, how you are risk averse together, because our careers are tied to our financial stability, our homes, our communities. And there's just a lot of variables.

To me, it's taking kind of . . . so before I quit my job at 57, these are the things I did before I actually did it: I had been tracking all my expenses for three years in my phone. Every single thing I spent went in my phone. And then I had an Excel spreadsheet and I tracked it all.

And so I was like, “Okay, this is how much I really spend. What would it look like if I quit my job?” So that's just one of the pieces. I also went to a financial planner and said, this is the money I have saved. If I never save another dime, if I never make any money in art – I mean, it's possible I'm not going to make any money; there's no stability; I'm not being paid by an employer anymore if I do this – what would happen? What would my lifestyle look like? Could I deal with that? So for me, I need a reality check. That's not for everyone, but for me, it’s knowing that I'm going to be okay.

In my case, I found out that I could work minimally with The Myers-Briggs Company, which is one week a month or less. I could pay my bills. I wouldn't save anything more, but I didn't necessarily need to. And hopefully I would have enough in the bank. I would eventually start earning money with art, which I am now. So now I have replaced my income. It just took a few years.

When you start a brand new thing, like if you went from marketing to pharmaceuticals, you may have to take a step back. I certainly took a step back with art, financially. So, can you do that? You know, can handle it?

MS: That was actually one of my questions. A lot of people don't change jobs because they're worried that if they start at a different position, that they'll have to essentially take a pay cut and or a lower position in their new career.

CR: But then there's a payoff if you do. The payoff is, not only are you going to be happier because you're in alignment with who you are, but long term, you're probably going to make a lot more money. So yeah, you sacrifice in the beginning. By the ways, I sacrificed in the beginning. When I jumped off the cliff, I gave up my full-time income. I didn't have any income other than this very little bit of consulting income, but I knew that I had enough in the bank. That's what was important to me, to hold me. And I could always go back to what I was doing. There was always a road back to what I liked, to what I was skilled in doing. But I think it's worth- that, that’s the risk . . .

Let me just add to that though. Part of this is – and this is just me – but knowing that I had this goal, which is to jump off corporate life and do art, it was a high motivator to save every penny I had, so I drive- I just recently replaced a 15-year-old car because I'm not going to get a car payment. I am going to put everything in the bank because that was the safety net. So when I did quit, I had enough if I couldn't make money from art for a while.

And it's the same thing if someone changes careers. Yes, you may have to go back in income until you get your expertise again, until you can sell that expertise and you can move up to the food chain and make more money. So can you live long, can you sustain that? Which means, to me, while you're in a job that you're earning more money, save it all. Don't go to Starbucks. Save.

And that's why I had every expense on my phone. It's like when people go on a diet, many times they write down everything. It's the same thing. I wrote down every single thing I spent because it kept me honest. It's like, how much do you want art? Really? So don't get the Starbucks. You're going to put it in the bank.

MS: That's a great. I mean, it's a great actionable tip. And it's one that I had never thought of when it came to career transitions. And most people could probably benefit from being a little more financially wise, or looking at what you spend, looking at your expenses, looking at what is a need versus what is a want when it comes to expenses. But I never thought of using that information and that financial security as a safety net as far as saying, “Okay, if I know that I might not make money while I'm in this career transition, can I save leading up to that? Can I cut my expenses? What are my absolute minimum expenses that I need to survive?”

CR: Right. Then it becomes a game. Your so-called short-term sacrifice so you can get to where you want to go. So it doesn't feel like a sacrifice really, it felt like how much can I save, how much can I cut back and stash in the bank?

MS: And there’s that balance that- I've heard a lot of like, “Well, do you want to do what you love or do you want to make money?” Because a lot of times, for a lot of people, it’s difficult to find a job where you can do both. I think a lot of the jobs that are more fulfilling are- you're about to say “You can,” right?

CR: Well, you can, but I don't think it's- I mean, I was with The Myers-Briggs Company, making money, doing what I loved, but it wasn't the ultimate thing I loved. It wasn't the thing that just made my heart go crazy because I loved it so much. I was in a job when I was in my career development days, I was in a job I actually hated for seven years – actually it was six and a half years – I actually counted. It was like, oh my God, I’m going to die. It was so painful. And what happened, finally, after six and a half years, I realized that I had been complaining for six and a half years. Now, mind you, I had been doing art on the side. Dreaming of this thing I might be able to do one day, but pretty much I was complaining for six and a half years. That's what I did.

Anybody that would listen to me, I would tell them how awful this job was. And by the way, if you looked at the job, it didn't look awful. It's just that the amount of responsibility I had, people were yelling at me all the time. I had like five different audiences that were yelling at me and telling me I wasn't doing enough for them.

MS: And it wasn't a good fit for you, whereas someone else might've gotten in that job and be like, “I can take people yelling at me all day because I love this part of it.”

CR: Oh, absolutely. And they wouldn't even perceive it as being yelled at. They would perceive it as problem solving. Okay, let's solve that problem. And I did solve the problems. I just didn't enjoy that. So at the six and a half year point, I actually changed the way I looked at my job. I said, okay you can either – I had no job prospects; I had set my entire life up to do this one job, which was to be a career development director at a major university – you can either complain for the next 30 years, or you can figure out how to shut up that thing in your brain that just wants to complain all the time.

Ever heard of the phrase, “What you resist persists”?

MS: No.

CR: Oh, it's this thing that whatever you are putting energy against – in my case, my job, I was saying it was awful – that job's going to last forever. And that's what I came to the conclusion of: if I keep complaining about this thing as the most awful thing in the world, this thing is going to last forever. I'm going to be stuck either here or somewhere else.

So at six and a half years, I said, okay. From now on, when you hear this voice in your head – I call it the lizard brain – that says, “This sucks. I hate this job. Stop. Go away. Why am I doing this?” I stopped myself mid complaint and I go, it's like disciplining a child: “No, no, no. We’re not going there.” And so I would stop the complaint and just whatever I was doing, I would just do it without thought. And by the way, it wasn't easy. I did it over and over and over and over. I did it for about three to six months.

And at the end of that time, I literally had fallen in love with my career development job. I honest to God, I wanted to stay there. I thought, okay this is it. I have found it. I actually turned this painful job around just by stopping the inner dialogue that fought with everything about the job. And here's the thing that happened, Melissa. Out of the blue, my future boss called me up from The Myers-Briggs Company.

She got to me because she networked to me. So she was looking for someone to join her staff and she networked around with other people that were pretty – I mean, I was very well established in my field, so people knew who I was – and she called me up and said, “Do you know anyone that might want this job?”

She was networking with me and I go, “Are you kidding me?” That was my job. So it was really actually hard because I had fallen in love with my career development job. And I was being offered the dream job. If you're going to work for somebody, The Myers-Briggs Company, to me, is a dream job. And so I actually left my college job.

But I was my own transition. For any of you listening who are miserable in their jobs, because I’ve been there, it's not that you're going to change the job. I don't believe in positive thinking by the way. I don't believe in going around, “Oh, isn't this nice?” when it's not really nice. I'm not going to turn around the idea that someone's yelling at me into a nice thing. But what I do is if I'm in a difficult situation, I just drop all the commentary in my head and I make it a – what's the word – it's a ritual. “Oh, I hear a complaint.” Okay, stop. And I just am with whatever I'm doing. And it changed everything.

And it's changed everything multiple times, by the way. That was just the first time that I realized I actually can control my destiny, by stopping all the negative talk. By the way, no one would think I'm a negative talker. It's all in my head. Because of what I project outward.

MS: I was going to say, when we worked together previously, you do not seem like you would have negative dialogue going on.

CR: I think most people do. I think most people have a lizard brain. Even now, I have to discipline myself. Because it's so easy. It doesn't have to be about jobs. It can be about family, about my neighbors cranking the music up and it's like, stop. Things I have no control over. That's the key. If I have no control over it, why am I thinking about it incessantly? Because all it does is to me, brings more of it to me, as opposed to stop it.

MS: Yeah. I feel like that's a good thought about – I've seen other, not necessarily career coaches, but life coaches who have the diagram of nine parts of life or nine areas. Sometimes there's nine, sometimes there's eight, sometimes there's ten. But when you're thinking about your overall well-being, right? Not just happiness, but overall well-being, overall contentment, that your career is part of that. Your professional life is definitely part of that because we spend a lot of time at work and you don't want to be miserable at work. And maybe you can tone down some of those internal complaints, but also looking at other parts of your own well-being and saying, “Okay, how's my family? How's my relationship? How's my social life? How's my spiritual life?” I got five. I know there's like four more in there. Financial. There’s one. I got six.

But yeah, that’s . . . if there's something that maybe you're interested in, but you don't necessarily want it to be a whole career. Maybe it's a hobby. Maybe it's something that's another area that you can play in before you decide that that will be a career transition.

CR: Right. And it's also just following the seeds. Following those small little cues. Because I think we already know. I think most of us. deep down go, “Wouldn't that be cool?” That is a huge cue. Like when you say yourself, “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could do that?”

And you may not be able to go be an architect right now, but what could you do that would give you a piece of it? Could you take a drawing class? And it might end up being something else. Those little cues aren't necessarily taking you to where you think they're taking you, but they are beginning the process for you.

MS: So the last question I want to ask is for people who might be listening who are in a state of inertia – they know they want to do some sort of career transition for whatever reason – what are one or two things that you recommend that people should do after listening to this podcast?

CR: Well, one is simple and one takes a little more effort. So the simple one is make a list of things that you just love doing right now. And maybe make a second list of things you've been dreaming about doing, but you haven't done yet. And they can be little things. Take a hike. Or big things. You want to go to Yosemite. What are the things – it's kind of like having a bucket list, right? So what are your bucket list things? Tiny little things and huge things, and everything in between.

So spend some time – basically those are the parts of yourself that you haven't fulfilled yet. And then look at your list and just choose one. And maybe choose the easiest one. Like what is the low-hanging fruit on that list? Go do that. Because I think following one little joy at a time can lead you, it almost get your brain prepared. It’s like, okay this is what we're doing now. We're following joy. We're following what lights us up.

But you’ve got to get your brain in tune with that because your brain is used to thinking, “I'm in limbo. I don't know where I'm going.” Instead it’s, you do know what you like. And those are the cues to where you want to go. That’s actually the easy one because everyone can make a list of things you would love to do, even if you want to learn how to crochet, or you know how to crochet, but you're hardly ever doing it. So find some time to do a hobby that you haven't done, and keep doing that. Keep looking at your list. What else can I bring into my life now? That's the easy one.

The second one is, find someone that can walk you through that. I have people in my life that don't want to invest in – whether it's a therapist, a coach, a career counselor – because it's too much money. I'm telling you, it is the best money you’ve ever spent because it shortcuts the whole process. It streamlines it.

MS: Yeah, I was going to say, it sounds like you're trading – I've heard, something similar – but basically trading your money for time. So you might spend X amount with a career coach, but you'll probably save how many countless hours figuring stuff out yourself?

CR: Yeah, and save money long-term.

MS: Because that's what they do professionally. What's the best way to find a career coach? Besides going to your, if you did attend a university and they have a career center that you can reach out to?

CR: You know, this is going to sound kind of trite, but I would Google them. Google career counselors within your city. And by the way, I think you can do it long distance. You can do it online. I don't think there's any reason why they have to be close by. But then I interview them. Anytime that I've had any kind of coaching.

MS: You mean before you start working with them?

CR: Yeah, absolutely. Because you have to think of- you're going to be giving them a lot of money. And I want to make sure that they have the same life philosophy I have. I want to see that I like them. Am I going to want to spend time? Am I going to respect them? Before I hired my current coach – she’s a specifically art workshop coach, this is what she specializes in – she had to pass my interview.

I interviewed her and I had like five or six questions of how do you work with people and how do you see yourself working with me? This is where I am. How are you going to get me to where I want to go? I talked to like four or five different people before I actually found someone that I thought would help me in the way I wanted to be helped.

MS: Well those are both great tips. Before we close out for this episode, if people want to follow you, find you, learn more about you, where can they find you?

CR: Well, I'm on Instagram Cat Rains dot artist. And also on YouTube, same thing. Cat Rains dot artist. And Catherine Rains, my full name, Catherine Rains dot com is my website. And I give a lot of free things out. If art is anywhere in your bucket list, I actually work with a lot of people who are expanding who they are through art. So I have a lot of freebies that you can get from my website. Or those other places too, Instagram and YouTube.

MS: Perfect. Well, thank you so much Catherine for joining us on this. There's so much good information about career transitions that you've shared. We really appreciate your time.

CR: Melissa, I very much appreciate you inviting me to talk about it. It's one of my favorite topics, truly.


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