The transition from “educator” to “author and motivational speaker” has been an exciting one. It required me to once again become a student learning the ins and outs of publishing and marketing a book as a first step toward fulfilling my mission of helping people struggling with mental illness. My memoir Where the Water Meets the Sand (published in May 2016) has afforded me a tremendous public platform from which to launch my “encore” career.
I’ve been asked many times to share the secrets to my success in this new venture. My answer always begins with honest reflection. That’s the most important first step toward just about any life change. Accentuating the positives from my personal and professional lives put me in a position to embark on a new adventure with both strength and confidence.
From there, you can use what I like to call the “three P’s” to plan for your encore career – passion, people and (a hard one for me) patience.
Passion: My lifelong devotion to helping people realize their full potential combined with my mission to overcome the stigma associated with mental illness added up to a career that excites and energizes me every day.
People: I surround myself with people who share my interests. I enroll in writing classes, take on volunteer speaking opportunities, re-engage with members of the military and mental health communities who have positively influenced me over the years.
Patience: Good things take time. Pursuing an encore career in an entirely different field from which you were trained takes planning and patience. You have to be willing to prepare for the journey!
I am happy to report that my encore career has enabled me to apply the valuable skills I honed over years as an educator — communication, empathy and compassion for others – and that it has all the focus and discipline that I knew I’d miss. What’s next for me? It’s too soon to tell, but safe to say it won’t involve fishing or golfing.