My breakthrough moments always came when I was just doing what I loved!
After graduating from Clemson University in 1996 with a BA in Psychology, I had no idea what I would do next. I was rejected by the graduate programs I had hoped to attend. I was literally crying on the phone to my best friend’s mother, when she told me that she had heard of a program called The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (a school her therapist friend attended).
She suggested that I look to see if there was something similar in Atlanta. Thankfully there was an Atlanta campus called The Georgia School of Professional Psychology.
They admitted students regardless of GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores but they had to prove themselves in the first 4 classes. Which is exactly what I did. The next challenge was finding a job having had no applicable work experience in the field.
I did temp work counting inventory for companies who provided workers en masse to places like Home Depot to inventory their entire store. (I still have flashbacks of kneeling on the floor and counting nails.)
I was determined to get work that would help me be a good candidate for internship. I wanted to work for an organization that helped people. But because I did not have experience, I kept getting turned down. Eventually, I decided to gain experience by volunteering. I volunteered at the United Way, but only after I found other volunteer experience so that they would then take me on as a volunteer (sheesh!)
I worked in their call center and I worked hard. I took every volunteer shift they offered and I got to know all of the staff. When a position opened up, they hired me. The next year, I won the award for employee of the year! Working in their data base and referring people for help led me to discover where I went on to do my internship – The Hub Counseling and Education Center, which closed in 2000.
I experienced multiple breakthrough moments:
- crying to my best friend’s mom (sharing what I wanted to do);
- deciding I didn’t want to continue to do temp work and deciding to volunteer;
- getting hired at United Way;
- winning an award there;
- finding the internship that led to almost every vital professional relationship I have now!
Breakthrough moments are experienced sometimes in the moment and other times in hindsight.
I have found that many people give up on their service goals before their breakthrough moment!
When the success they want does not happen quickly…(quick could be anywhere from a month, a year or even several years)….when things don’t happen in that anticipated time frame…they begin to believe that what they want to create won’t happen.
It is vital that you believe in and promote your services in the pursuit of your goals! Last week I wrote about “telling people who you are and what you do.”
I felt compelled to share that message and this message because too many helping professionals (counselor and coaches alike) struggle with consistently sharing information to their target audience about who they are and what they do.
A successful career is something that happens over time. If you give up on what you want to do and then start something else… you lose momentum.
So it is vital to-
- Have clarity on what you want!
- Commit to that goal!
- And then work diligently toward that goal!
Now, it is possible that you think you want to work with kids with ADHD and then you begin to do that work and determine you don’t like it. Of course, in that case, it is necessary and vital that you find your true niche. You don’t have to stay in something you don’t enjoy.
This brings me to another point….please allow yourself to gain work experience in a variety of settings before you settle on a niche.
How can you know what you will like or not like if you have not experienced working in that setting or with that population?
There may be some things you know for sure… like I knew I did not want to work in a prison counseling setting. However, early in my career I worked in the following settings:
- domestic violence shelters;
- K-12 schools;
- clinical research with Universities;
- non-profit community counseling;
- private practice;
- community college instruction;
- and a crisis call center.
I learned more than I could have imagined in each setting. All of that experience serves me now as a consultant, coach, supervisor and educator.
It doesn’t matter if you are early-, mid- or late-stage in your career; or whether you came into your current profession from another field. What matters is the level of clarity you develop about what you want so that you can pursue it without hesitation.
That clarity will also allow you to weather the storms like:
- steep learning curves;
- financial peaks and valleys;
- and various mistakes, missteps and miscalculations.
If you are not truly connected to what you are pursuing…and you don’t really want it in a passionate way…it is a virtual guarantee that it will not happen.
Why? Because it requires a lot of perseverance to build one’s vision.
- open a practice;
- or develop a training institute;
- or acquire government contracts;
- or write a book because you are seeking “glory.”
There may or may not be any glory in what you do.
If you pursue building that coaching business or that counseling practice…you must do it because you cannot imagine yourself being happy or fulfilled doing anything else.
Copyright © 2015 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.