Kicking Your Career Change Off Right- Happiness Project Style

I know I’m about 8 years late to the party (story of my life), but I’m REALLY digging Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project”. It is rocking my world right now, just in time for the New Year. For those who are unfamiliar with her concept, Rubin chose 12 areas of her life she wanted to work on throughout a year and spent a month on each area.

By the way, I’ve started video blogging over on my Facebook page here, (“Like” the page to get notified when I go live and post video tutorials and all that jazz!) but after staving off 13 people’s colds, three stomach bugs and my husband’s full blown flu three weeks ago, I have finally succumbed to Sickness-Palooza 2016/17, so with my Rudolph-esque nose, I think videos are a no go this week.

Anyway, back to Gretchen. While her way of approaching things and her perspective is similar to mine in some areas, it’s radically different in other areas, which got me thinking: I bet we all think about career changes or pivots in wildly different ways, with wildly different attitudes, ranging from “I GOT THIS” to “NO, PLEASE, MAKE ME DO ANYTHING BUT GO TO A NETWORKING EVENT!” to everything in between.

SO, as I was reading her “Work” chapter, it hit me that lots of her lessons are SO vital to career change that I’d be remiss NOT to write this post. So, without further ado, here are some of the critical lessons from Rubin I think we could all consider as we enter a career change or pivot in 2017:happiness







Image: Happiness: A Happy Dog Contemplates Life In the Woods on New Year’s Day

  1. 1. In order to have more success, you need to be willing to accept more failure. Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy. Wow. This one was huge for me. As I looked back to consider my career change, I can pinpoint the few times I actually felt happy during it. I mean, I worked three jobs at one point to have some income while I built my business. I had months of $1200 or less in income. I had a ton of debt as I built and invested in my business and my skill set. I worked for a CA-RAZY company at the beginning of my career change (the one I mention that I don’t even put in my resume) that made my additional schooling all the more stressful. You get the deal. My career change was (and still is) fraught with risks and potential failures. Some came to fruition and others never did. So when you are considering your career change- or maybe you’re in the thick of it and feeling a little all over the place- know that it is normal, and that to really achieve that next level, there ARE inherent risks and nothing’s a done deal, but nothing is irreversible (besides questionable tattoos) either.
  1. Your Inner Critic Can Be Your Bestie, of Sorts. And no, not necessarily the margarita and taco night bestie, but more the friend who tells you like it is and doesn’t sugarcoat the message. What the heck am I talking about here? When instead of believing what your inner critic says about your abilities to change careers (“you don’t have what it takes”, for example) you can use that as information to KEEP.GOING. Acknowledge that this is your Inner Critic talking and keep going. If you want to get anything accomplished, you need to keep pushing ahead without constantly second-guessing yourself. So, terrified of networking meetings and think you bombed your first one? 1) you probably didn’t and 2) in order to hit on something big, strike a chord with someone, learn to present yourself better, you just gotta go out and do it again, and again until you start to hit your stride.
  1. When You Feel Rushed for a Solution, Slow Your Roll. When I’m trying to figure something out for the first time, I get all anxious like I need to know the answer right away or I’ll spontaneously combust. Like today, my assistant sent over a new program to help us keep track of passwords better (ummm if passwords are the bane of your existence like they are mine!) and I just HAD to know how to do it RIGHT THEN AND THERE. But…ya don’t, I promise you. So, if you’re embarking on your career change and feel like you just gotta know what your actual next step is RIGHT NOW OR ELSE, ya don’t, I promise you. Trust that you will figure out a way. When Rubin feels anxious and that she needs to know X now, she “puts herself in jail” which means that she tells herself she’s locked up with nowhere to go until she figures out a way to slow down. She also tells herself that it doesn’t matter how long it takes; the end result is that the project (in this case your career change) will get done.
  1. Work Smart. I talk about this in the Career Change Kitchen online course. It can’t be stated too many times. If you say to yourself, ‘Well I have all day Saturday to write some networking emails to start gathering info for my career change,” chances are it’ll be suddenly Saturday night and you’ll put your dancing shoes on and head out the door. Instead think about setting a timer (I suggest 45 minute work blocks) and focus on one SPECIFIC task. So with the networking emails, maybe you spend 20 minutes making a list of people you’re going to reach out to with their email address, 15 minutes drafting an adaptable email that can be tweaked per person slightly and 10 minutes sending the first one or two.
  2. Flip the Script: OK here it is: NOW is the fun part. I know, I know, a hard pill to swallow when you’re starting to put yourself out there in ways you never have before, so hear me out. The challenge for happiness, Rubin writes, is to take pleasure in the ‘atmosphere of growth’ – in the gradual progress made toward a goal. This brings in another concept I’ve been using a lot for clients and students of the Career Change Kitchen (and myself too!), and that’s Todd Herman’s idea of the WOW versus OWW Brain way of thinking. OWW Brain people look at accomplishments in terms of how far they still have to go and WOW brain thinkers look at accomplishments in terms of how far they’ve come. A very small yet huge distinction. SO, as you contemplate how to enjoy the career change process, try to think about it in terms of how far you’ve come. Maybe you’re just getting started, but making the decision to actually start after years of contemplating it is a huge deal. And then, as you rack up ‘wins’ in the career change process, you’ll note that doing a little something pretty often starts to stack up to bigger wins, and a WOW brain mentality is further cultivated.

Ok phew, that was a lot, but I hope at least one of these ideas re: happiness and career resonated with you as you start to contemplate or are going through a career pivot or change. They really are game changers once you put those mental hats on.

I talk about many of these concepts and more, as well as how to implement them in the Career Change Kitchen online course, a course I developed to help you achieve career happiness- in other words, helping you change your career in a soup to nuts way with way less anxiety and second-guessing. I’m guiding you every step of the way. You can check the course out here. I’m hosting a free info session on 1/9/17 and you can snag your spot here.

If You Don’t Have This One Thing, Your Career Change Is Doomed From the Start


Ok, so full disclosure here. I usually hate hyperbolic headlines like that, but here I am writing one. Why? Because there’s SO much advice out there and I so truly know this one thing to be true that I literally can’t stress it enough.

And no, it’s not a fancy resume or a kick ass social media presence. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not even your network or who you know.
While those things are helpful and can help you cross the finish line of your career change, nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace your mindset. Cultivating the right mindset from the get-go and revisiting it regularly (ie this is not a “Set it and forget it” kinda thing, guys!) is CRUCIAL to getting started and staying moving.

Sound Captain Obvious-y to you? I agree; this is not rocket science, but what I really want you to dig in to today is how YOU are actively cultivating that mindset on a regular basis. It needs to be crystal clear. Make a list of the ways you are clearing space for this change. I’m talking physical space- is your workspace cluttered? I’m talking mental space- is your mind cluttered? And I’m talking energy-space- are you drained each and every time you try to start? Do you not pinpoint your roadblocks and thus keep them up unwittingly, letting them derail you from your major goal of finally getting in a job that you actually want to go to 5 (or more!) days per week?

Below is a laundry list of potential ways that might help you with this big FIRST step toward making a career change. Maybe you do one or two of these. Maybe adding in another element to augment what you’re currently doing might help. For example, I recently added “Morning Pages”  to my morning meditation practice. They really go nicely together and help me clear my plate before I enter my day.

  • Daily Meditation practice (with or without apps like Headspace or
  • Daily intention journal
  • Daily gratitude list
  • 2 Minute End-of Day Recap (How am I feeling, what worked about today and what do I want to work on for tomorrow)
  • Morning Pages (to get the creative juices flowing and remove the clutter)
  • Yoga
  • Mindfulness retreat
  • Work with a mindfulness teacher
  • Visit your local Shambhala Center
  • Books like “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, “The Alchemist” or “The Buddha Walks Into a Bar”
  • Checking in throughout the day with how you’re feeling and what might be getting in the way of this

Are you sitting there thinking, “Jill, I don’t have TIME for any of that. I gotta get to work.” To that I ask you: Do you have time to spend more years than you already have in a job you really don’t like? Do you have time to spend more late nights at work and miss time with your friends, husband, wife, kid, mom, cat?

Until very recently, I was very much like that, running around from thing to thing and checking boxes off my to-do list. And while I’m by no means a levitating Buddha nor am I telling you that you have to be one to change careers (quite the contrary actually), I’m saying that investing a little time in this each day will make a BIG difference toward achieving this really big goal you have for 2017.

I will add that sometimes-annoying people like me can tell you this til the cows come home, but it’s up to you to give it a whirl. And by ‘a whirl’, I mean dedicate yourself to it for at least a month, if not 3 months. I was one of those people who sort of internally rolled my eyes (not VISIBLY though!) whenever someone told me I should meditate. So that’s why I’m not telling you that you should meditate- because that’s annoying if you’ve heard it a million times or just don’t like being told what to do (who does like that?)

So what I AM saying is this: 

A career change requires the right Mindset Toolkit. It will be slightly different for each and every person. This is all I’m asking you to accept. THEN, I want you to fill your toolbox with what works for you and leave the rest. And as you grow and evolve, you might pick up new tools but your core go-to tools are always your stead standbys.

BOOM. Happy holidays ya’ll.

PS: Mindset is where we start in the Career Change Kitchen- our new comprehensive career change online course (with some extra goodies and various levels of support from me!) Check out the info here.

PPS: You may have noticed the blog is getting a little less love lately. That’s because we’re focused on VIDEO FUN as we enter the New Year, so I’m trying my hand at vlogging in front of my Christmas tree. You can check out the goodies on my Facebook here (like the page to know when we’re doing special offers on courses and other events!) or my YouTube channel here.

You Got the Coffee Chat With That Important Person You’ve Been Aiming For….Now What?!?!

You Got the Coffee Chat With That Important Person You’ve Been Aiming For….Now 

You Got the Coffee Chat With That Important Person You’ve Been Aiming For….Now

coffee chat

Many of us aren’t natural networkers….or at least we feel like we aren’t. We know networking and connecting are important for our career advancement or career change, but really, we just don’t wanna do it. At all. Like we’d rather send 200 job applications into the ether, never to be heard from again, rather than going on 5 coffee chats or info interviews. You may be familiar with what I’m putting down here. The “oh crap, well now I’ve gone and done it! I’ve got the coffee chat set up and it’s PURE DREAD to figure out what to talk about!!!”


First, take some deep breaths and remember the following:


  • No one is going to die or spontaneously combust by going to a coffee chat.
  • The person SAID YES to you, meaning, they want to meet with you too. #twowaystreet
  • It really is a win-win, no matter how the meeting goes. If you have a good connection and gel, then that’s great for obvious reasons: building a long-term relationship, potential mentorship, and idea exchange, they think of you when they hear of a job- the list goes on and on. If you don’t gel, as sometimes happens, then that’s great too. You don’t have to spend time on the relationship and neither do they. You can instead focus on relationships that are mutually beneficial.
  • You may feel selfish and that you’re take-take-taking, but in reality, it’s a two-way street. Sure, maybe your aim for the meeting now is for job prospects, but you’ll more than happily return the favor or offer help in some way when they need it, right? (And if the answer is no, then we have a whole other blog post for that!)
  • It’s worth repeating: no one ever spontaneously combusted or melted into a pile of mush from a coffee chat. I guarantee it.

This morning, a client admitted that she gets into “Why Bother?” mode, meaning if someone responds favorably to her request for a meeting, she drags her feet at responding to finalize, asking herself what the point of it all is (in other words, ‘this won’t lead to anything!”)


If you’re nodding your head vigorously at that, remember the following:


  • You never know where a connection might lead. Maybe their colleague mentions a job and your connection thinks of you, or maybe they see a job posting and pass it along to you.
  • If you get into the “why bother?” mentality, actually answer the damn question. Yes, write down all the reasons why you should actually bother. For my client, she said it was because the woman was well connected, wanted to help, was a prolific public speaker which is one of my client’s goals, etc. Actually write it down so you don’t talk yourself out of something due to nebulous “Why bother?” questions.
  • No one has ever died by going on a coffee chat.


Ok, so now that we’ve got all that covered and you’re READY to rock and ride, what the heck do you actually TALK about in these meetings?!?


  • Coffee meetings are great because they’re generally 30-40 minutes, give or take. So it’s not hours upon hours of dreadful time to fill!
  • You don’t need to script every minute. As a matter of fact, I don’t advise that. I’ve never seen a coffee chat/info chat start right off the bat with business. People typically like to ease into these things, so you can ask them something non-work related. Ideas:
    • What’s this neighborhood like to work in? Any restaurants or bars nearby you’d recommend? (And from there, you could talk about food and cuisines and culture for a bit- sky’s the limit!)
    • If you know something personal about them (ie. Have kids, got married, went on a trip, started a networking group, gave a speech), ask them about it.
    • If something in the news is interesting to you and timely, bring it up! (Read: not politics, generally speaking)
  • Know your outcome: Do you admire their career path thus far and want to gain insights into how they did it? Ask. Do you want to let the person know you’re open to new opportunities? Tell them! This is where it’s important to have your narrative down- help them understand why you’re looking for a change and how you want to grow and why that’s important to you.
  • Listen more than you talk. There’s a misconception out there that you, as the coffee chat setter-upper, need to talk the entire time and carry the conversation. You don’t! I always try to invoke the “listen more than you speak” mantra and think it’s important for coffee chats especially. Relationships are built when you let the other person feel heard. This should take a little of the pressure to talk talk talk off your plate!


Most importantly, going on this coffee chat is important because as you do them, they become less onerous and scary and just another thing you do. Rip that band-aid off and get a-movin!

I Boxed Myself In And Didn’t Know The Way Out: A Cautionary Tale of Burnout

I Boxed Myself In And Didn’t Know The Way Out: A Cautionary Tale of Burnout


Aidan hanging up the pet portrait I had made of his dog, courtesy of


A lot of times, people write about stuff after they’ve already gone through it, but I don’t think most of us, myself included, spend a lot of time writing about the tough parts when we’re actually IN the tough parts. I’m not sure what it is- maybe it’s the idea that in this online, social media-frenzied world, we feel we have to show the good stuff or we can talk about the bad stuff, but only after we’ve overcome it to show we’ve grown and learned and all that jazz.


I’m gonna take a little departure from what I normally see (and do!) and talk to you about something that is going on RIGHT NOW because I suspect many of you are struggling with something right now, and I also suspect that you may not have told anyone.

So here goes:

I’ve been facing some real burnout. I knew I was going to have a busy fall, so Aidan and I went all out on Labor Day Weekend. We had a fun date night at my favorite BYOB in Manhattan, and then we had two Sunday Fundays in Queens on both Saturday and Sunday. We explored 2 new neighborhoods, discovered a hidden brewery, practiced taking pictures with our DSLRs and went to a tortilla-making factory near Citi Field. I felt expansive, creative and fun, and I was churning out ideas left, right and center- both for future adventures we might take together, as well as fun ideas for my business and for my clients.


It was glorious.


Then Labor Day hit, and I went immediately into hunker down mode. Cue the beginnings of burnout! You see, I was beta testing my online career change course with 12 women and I was planning my wedding (sans wedding planner). This large workload was on top of my normal day-to-day work, not to mention being there for my wonderful clients. I decided that in order to get it all done, I had to say no to (most) friend and social engagements and 90% of external meetings. I focused on my health and exercise, and my work- and that’s it.


As the weeks wore on, I became increasingly stressed, despite my intense wellness efforts. My stomach was nearly constantly hurting, my head felt like it had a giant ever-tightening clamp on it, and I started going through the motions. Cue, increased potential for burnout!  I write in a daily intention and gratitude journal every day, and even that had become rote- I didn’t actually FEEL what I was writing about. Then there were the days that I felt an all-out panic over my to-do list, and even creating my to-do list was enough to raise the fear of who-knows-what in me. I’d race around from task to task, never fully being where I was- whether it was at pilates or with Aidan or heck, writing blogs, which used to bring me such joy.


Anyway, you can guess how this ends: this hamster wheel situation culminated in me getting really dizzy and nearly passing out in a pilates class a couple of weeks ago. Hello, Burnout!


In other words, I was miserable and felt terrible.  And how’s this for irony: I was speaking at W.E.L.L. Summit, one of the premiere annual wellness conferences that same week, too! Oy.


So, how the heck did I get here, and how can I change course to move ahead?

  1. I thought I could do it all. In typical Recovering Event Planner fashion, I thought I could easily handle this. I’m efficient, able to do a lot at once and flourish under pressure, or so I thought. I met my match this time, and I underestimated my take-on-too-much nature. And add a dash of stubbornness to this equation and you get a whole lotta pushing ahead despite myself.
  2. I didn’t ask for help. This is related to #1, but it’s important for this to have its own section- if you’re feeling stuck and increasingly isolated you must ask for help! People are happy to help if you just ask- they are not mind readers, for Pete’s sake! For me, I had to get over the vulnerability of asking for help. It feels weird to admit you’re stressed and overwhelmed and can’t handle it all. I reached out to a couple of close friends and told them what was going on as well as my business coach, sister, and therapist. I got a little something from each of them: my friends threw me a fake bridal shower and cooked me dinner, my business coach helped me slow down and take a look at what was truly important and my sister made wedding magic happen- and she told me it would all be ok. Who are those people for you? What do you need from them? ASK. I guarantee it will make you stronger, not weaker. I also hired a pretty amazing assistant who has taken a lot of tasks that drive me nuts and take me tons of time off my plate. Maybe you work for a company so you can’t just go hire a work assistant, but you can offload certain things- maybe you have a cleaning service come in once a month or you drop your wash off to be done by someone, or maybe you hire a personal assistant to do errands for you. Think about the time for money thing and think about what would truly free you up so you’re not working all day and playing catch up with your life and errands all night and on weekends.
  3. I sucked the fun out of everything. I’m a pretty fun person, but when I’m stressed, boy, do I know how to take the fun out of everything. WOW. I even didn’t allow myself to have fun- no adventures, I put my career retreat/winery idea completely on hold and didn’t discuss it for 2 months,
  4. I became formulaic and my days became predictable. This is semi-related to #3, but it also needs its own category. EVERY DAY WAS THE SAME. This led to repeating the same things without really living it. I didn’t make any plans or create any impromptu opportunities. I was a slave to my work and forgot about creating. If this is sounding familiar, I urge you to set aside some time to find something fun and creative that sparks your fancy and go do it. Don’t wait for permission or for the busy period to pass or whatever. Yes, I totally get that during busy periods you may not get to do AS MUCH as you’d like or experience as much as you’d like,  but make the time for something for yourself so you can avoid fainting in pilates class.
  5. I forgot one major thing. This is as good as it gets, folks. (Ok, and by that, I do NOT mean- “it’s all downhill from here!”) I just mean things are pretty damn awesome. I’m about to marry the person I love most in this world, I own and run my own business (and I’m a certified corporation) and I’m learning stuff every day. In other words, this is exactly what I’ve been working for, both personally and professionally and really, when I take a step back, I’ve made it.  And my point in saying this is, that if you don’t quite feel that way yet, keep at it and I guarantee you will (but take breaks, for the love of god!). And if you have been feeling stressed and uncreative and you take a step back and realize the same thing I did, BOOM. You’ve made it too (whatever ‘it’ is to you).

So, what kinds of burnout or disassociation from your true self are you facing? Have you tried any of the above methods? Have they worked? Leave a comment below!

Tough Career Question of the Week: How Do I Contact Someone for Info on a New Job Field, But I’m not Ready to Say “Yes” To the Field?

new job field

How Do I Contact Someone for Info on a New Job Field, But I’m not Ready to Say “Yes” To the Field?

This is the hottest question that has come across my desk (ie email) this week, and I’m excited to share some perspective on this!

Basically, what this person was asking was as follows: they’re exploring several career paths but have not yet chosen which way to go. They know that to find out information on each of their potential paths, they gotta talk to some people in those roles, but they want to strike a good balance of not wasting the person’s time by being too vague and non-committal and being gung ho about the field before they are ready.

So I’m here to give you some quick tips and a script to get moving and not let you trip you up. Remember, don’t make the perfect the enemy of the good here!


  • Talk to one of your close peeps first: You may not have this, but if you do, absolutely start with people who know you well and that don’t mind you bumbling around to get more information!
  • Gather preliminary info first: Check out an info session online for the professional association of the field you are exploring. Do a (timed!) Google search on the field. I say ‘timed’ so you don’t fall down the Google rabbit hole. 45 minutes per field is PLENTY. Make notes of what appeals to you for each field and what additional information you want to ask someone about.
  • Check out live in-person networking events in your area: It’s a good way to get a grasp on the lingo people in that field are using, what kind of ideas they’re talking about and what’s important to them. Heck, you might even make a connection there! But if not, that’s fine- the name of the game is info gathering.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups in your proposed field: Now, not all LinkedIn groups are created equally, so some might…well, they might suck. But check some out, see what kinds of (non-promotional) discussions are taking place in there and see how people are talking about the issues of their industry/field and what information is being passed around.


Once you have a basic sense for what appeals to you about the field, how your current skillset could gel with the proposed field and some questions you want to ask, you’re ready to contact someone for an info chat.  Woo hoo! Congrats!

I’m including a brief script you can adapt for your outreach – to make it specific enough that you get a response, but not so specific that you’re painting yourself into an interview for a job you’re not even sure you want!

This is adapted from a script a good friend going through her own career exploration process has used with massive success. When she was first sending it out, she had an 85-90% positive response rate. So, try it and let us know how it goes! J


Here’s the script:


I hope this email finds you well, and I apologize for the “cold call” approach. I’m currently exploring a transition from a WHAT YOU’VE DONE BEFORE at COMPANY into a career in NEW PROPOSED CAREER, and I would be so grateful to spend 20 minutes with you to learn more about your own career path and your role as THEIR ROLE AT THEIR COMPANY. You are highly respected in WHATEVER THEIR FIELD IS and I’ve noticed your work doing <CITE WORK YOU’VE NOTICED> and I would be extremely appreciative of any insight you may have for me as I navigate this new area.


If you’d be willing to meet for just 20 minutes and chat about your career and experiences please let me know. I can come by your office or call you via phone at a time convenient for you.


Thank you very much for your consideration and time.


Warmest wishes,






So, in closing, there IS a way to connect with people even when you’re not 100% sure of the final direction you want to go- it just takes some up front research and a specific ask to do so, as you’ve seen in this blog. And remember, it’s a great way to start to build a relationship – who knows, maybe you know of something or someone or a resource that can help them down the road, so if you’re feeling shy about reaching out, remember that- it’s a two way street!