Changing Careers with Unsettled alum and The Ambition Plan’s Lauretta Ihonor
The Unsettled community is full of people that have made epic professional leaps. Our community is rich in individuals who continue to swing from monkey bar to monkey bar in their careers, because as we all know, the career ladder is officially broken. We are lucky to explore career hopping in depth with the inspiration behind The Ambition Plan and Unsettled: Bali alum, Lauretta Ihonor. If you are feeling stuck in your career, or alone on your winding professional journey, read on for Lauretta’s expert advice…
What is the first step someone should take if they want to change their career or get their career “on track”?
We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to have our careers figured out by a certain age. I think a lot of that comes from societal ideals that have been put upon us at a young age – we begin to think that we should have the things that everyone else has. If you feel stuck in your career or like things have gone off track, the best place to begin is getting clear about what you want from life. Eliminate what you ‘should’ do and focus on what you want. Once you’re clear about what you want, it’s easier to take action.
What led you to your current career choice? Are you where you thought you would be professionally in an earlier point in your life?
It’s taken me nine years to get to where I am now in my career and it remains a work in progress. I started my professional life as a doctor but never felt it was the best fit. I always felt like I should 100% love my job and I never wanted to settle, so I embarked on a long search for my ‘perfect’ career. That search took me back to university 3 times. I got 4 degrees and changed careers 5 times in total, becoming a fashion stylist, journalist, TV producer, nutritionist, and finally an entrepreneur by the time I hit my early 30s. I never thought I would run an education platform for career changers, The Ambition Plan, but when I look at my life to date, it’s a no-brainer. The one thing I have eaten, lived, and breathed for all of my adult life is changing careers and figuring out what to do with my life.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned from making multiple career moves?
The biggest lesson I have learned is that it’s important to be authentic to yourself. You will struggle to feel fulfilled if you make your career decisions based on pleasing others or doing what is deemed successful by the bulk of society. You may have money in the bank and be the envy of your friends, but you’ll struggle to feel happy and complete deep down. I used to think I was the only one who felt that way, but since starting The Ambition Plan a year ago, I have met and worked with countless women who look accomplished from the outside but feel miserable and trapped in a career path that looks impressive on the outside but has no meaning to them.
What do you wish your younger self knew before embarking on your career path?
That there’s no urgency to have things figured out by 30. When I was in my teens and 20s, 30 was the age of official adulthood in my eyes. Based on that belief, I thought I should be married with children, a mortgage and a senior level job in a well-paid profession by the time I turned 30. I spent a long time chasing that dream and only found peace when I admitted to myself that I didn’t actually want all of those things… and that didn’t mean there was something wrong with me. We all have our own unique journeys to travel and unique purposes for being on this earth. I’ve also realised that 30 is young!
What emotions come up during your career transitions? How have you worked through them?
Many, and they are all unique to the person’s personality, upbringing, hopes, fears, values etc. However, something that most commonly comes up is a fear of failure. Many people worry that they will try something new and it won’t work out.
What’s funny is that while they are catastrophizing, few people play out that worst case scenario to completion. If they did, they would see that only 2 things can happen if you try a career change and it doesn’t work out. One, you learn a valuable lesson, dust your shoulders off and try again until you succeed. Two, you go back to the situation you are currently in. When you think about things like that, you literally have nothing to lose by trying a career change, but you have everything to gain.