It’s been 10 years since I left the US and moved to Israel! 10 years since I was an unemployed new immigrant without any family or friends or ability to speak Hebrew, to a Fractional CMO running my own business with my husband.
Here are 10 pieces of advice that have helped me to persevere and I hope can help others, no matter the situation:
- No one will make life happy for you but you! As I was turning 30 I felt stuck. I had a great life – a wonderful family, great friends, a good job, an apartment, a car, etc, but I still wasn’t happy. I didn’t want to wait around for something to happen, so I decided to make something happen by pursuing my dream of living in Israel.
- Don’t be afraid of change. The number one reason I hear from people who want to move to Israel but feel like they can’t is because they couldn’t continue in their current field. Don’t stop yourself from pursuing your dreams because you are scared of change!
- Look for the potential in every situation. When my husband and I were dating he told me that he was working on starting his own business on the side. At that point, I was about to launch a branding and marketing business (which was put on hold as I took a different opportunity), and thought how funny that he does marketing and I do sales. Perhaps one day we can go into business together. One day ended up being just 5 years later.
- Listen to feedback. While doing a program for new olim I was introduced to a lot of very senior people in fields related to what I wanted to do. All of them told me that it was impossible to do what I wanted in Israel. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but it was the reality of the job market at that point in time. I needed to reconsider my career options.
- Look back on your career. When you are starting out in your career it can be hard to get others to take you seriously, as you just don’t have the experience. This can be hard to take when you’ve been working for 15 years, just in a different field. I went back over my resume and saw that I had actually been working in communications since 2006! My previous work in politics was very much relevant to marketing since in both fields you need to understand the audience you are talking to in order to get them to buy into what you are selling. When moving into a new field look back to see if you aren’t just building on previous experiences.
- Don’t network, make friends. All of the job opportunities I had came from people whom I made meaningful connections with throughout my life, both at work and personally. Networking can create a lot of superficial connections, but when you take the time to get to know people beyond just what they can do for you, you may find that people are more motivated to help you because they are your friend.
- Help others. At KSW Solutions we give away a LOT of free advice, the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars every year. In part because the people who turn to us are outside of our normal client base, so it doesn’t feel right to charge them, and in part because sometimes you see people just need a little bit of help, and just like we donate 10% of our income, we also want to donate some of our time. Over 25% of our clients have come from people we’ve consulted for free recommending us to their colleagues and friends. It’s not why we do it, but it helps.
- Leave the door open on your way out. If you are leaving a job you’re unhappy with, it might be tempting to burn some bridges on your way out. Don’t. The passage of time usually lets things cool off and helps put perspective on previous situations. I was able to launch my company because I left a job on great terms and they ended up becoming my first client. For another job I stayed in touch with the CEO and he gave me some great advice regarding an opportunity I was reluctant to take (and in the end didn’t).
- Don’t make your career your life. After I transitioned careers, I felt a huge sense of loss. In the US I had a super impressive resume, jobs people were envious of, and so much of my identity was built based on what I did. When I didn’t have that anymore I had to rediscover who I was. It was very humbling and more than a little depressing. Now I know that as much as I want to enjoy my work, I make sure that the real fulfillment I get comes from my personal life.
- You need to just go for it. At the end of the day, the best things in my life are all a result of just going for it and not spending too much time contemplating, analyzing or otherwise being too much in my head. You should always make calculated decisions, but once you do, don’t endlessly agonize – just do it!