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“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

― Benjamin Franklin

A recent study by the American Institute of Economic Research, an independent research firm in Great Barrington, Mass., had some good news for would-be career changers in midcareer and beyond.

  • 1 million to 2 million workers ages 45 to 65 made a career change between 2011 and 2012.
  • 82% of workers in this age range who wanted to switch careers pulled it off
  • 90% of those who switched careers said their transition was successful
  • 72% felt like a new person since changing careers
  • 65% said their stress levels dipped
  • 68% said it didn’t take unreasonably long to find a new job
  • 59% reported they are now “following their passions.”

My Story

During the summer of 2014, I was made the CIO of a great organization, one I had been with for about 9 years. The position came with significant baggage; the responsibility for completing a very large software development project that was found to be in serious trouble.

I had a great team assisting me, but I was unable to spend time focusing on strategic issues, the true responsibility of a senior executive because my days revolved around project development operational issues.

Also, the stress associated with the project was significant and with no end in sight. A friend recommended that I work with a life coach to find a solution to the issues that were negatively impacting both my mental and physical health.

My coach helped me realize that I needed to move on with my life’s aspiration—becoming a Chief Executive Officer. I knew I would be trading one stressful environment for another, but it would be different stress and the pinnacle of my life’s journey. Once I made the decision to move forward with my career transition I felt liberated and at peace.

A Career Transition Strategy

My strategy for making a successful career transition has at its foundation two core elements. They are support and planning.


Finding the future role that I had always hoped for would require support from others, and thankfully, my life coach, my friends, and my wife provided that support. Armed with support you can do this. I know this because I did it. I can’t overstate how important this is. This is true for two reasons.

First, the support will give you the confidence to keep pressing forward. It is also likely that you will receive good advice from your support group. But the second reason why a support system is necessary is that they will hold you accountable. More accurately, you will hold yourself accountable to their expectations and desire for you to be successful.

In future blogs, we will explore this topic in greater depth, but for now, just realize that this is going to be very hard if you don’t have a support system. Also, not everyone should be on that team. Those who doubt, cast dispersions, challenge your decision, and pull you down should sit on the bench.

The Career Escape Plan

Additionally, and equally important, I needed a plan. At the time, my coach called it an “exit plan,” but later I realized that this term means something slightly different, so I renamed it the “Career Escape Plan.”

The remainder of this blog is going to focus on the elements of the actual plan I advocate you develop. If you are an experienced project manager, please choose your favorite software tool. For everyone else, Microsoft Word or Excel work just fine.

Here I list the individual elements of a transition plan that you should consider. Not all will apply to your situation, and you can leave those out of your plan. Also, you may have some elements that I haven’t thought of that you want to add. In future blogs, we will dig deeper into each of these individual elements.

As you will see, I have already blogged on the first three elements, and I will continue to blog each week on the remaining elements, providing much more detail, advice, and free resources. Stay with me on this journey by signing up on this page to receive my weekly blog notices.

Career Transition Lifecycle

I have broken the process of career transitioning down into four phases. They are:

Phase 1. Getting Started: Self-Evaluation

Phase 2. Planning: Constructing Your Career Escape Plan

Phase 3. Execution: Taking Action

Phase 4. Closure: Making the Transition

Phase 1. Getting Started

  • Job vs. Career: This blog provided a free assessment tool to help you determine whether your pain emanates from your career or your job.
  • What are you Meant to Do: Here I provided a summary of popular personality and career assessment tools, most of which are free.
  • Confidence and Esteem: Increasing your self-confidence and self-esteem is critical your success. This blog included a free blueprint for taking the first steps to increase your confidence and esteem.
  • How is your Health?
  • Do You Need a Life Coach?
  • Identifying Your Transferable Skills
  • Your Support System
  • Considering the Entrepreneur Option
  • Are You Supervisory Material?

Phase 2. Planning: Constructing Your Career Escape Plan

  • Creating a Timeline
  • Constructing Career Research
  • Considering the Financial Impact
  • Conducting Salary Research
  • Creating a Portfolio
  • Considering Relocation

Phase 3. Execution: Taking Action

  • Education
  • Credentials and Certifications
  • Volunteering
  • Interning
  • Job Shadowing
  • Information Interviews
  • Conducting a Job Search

Phase 4. Making the Transition

  • Researching Employers
  • Using Recruiters
  • Resumes
  • CVs
  • Cover Letters
  • Interviewing

Get started now!


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.”

—Lao Tzu

You have everything you need to begin constructing your Career Escape Plan. If you have questions about any element, I would love to hear from you. Kindly send me a note.

As I mentioned in my earlier blogs, I am also creating a program for those who may need more professional career transition help. I plan to launch the program at the year’s end—more to follow on that.

Take care till next week,



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