Time for a fresh start?

Originally Published in Materials Management & Distribution Magazine

It was just a few weeks ago while running on the treadmill at my local gym that I was impressed by what I read on the newest customer’s T-shirt. She was obviously new to the facility as she was receiving her introductory tour with the trainer. Most gyms are full of a variety of people ranging from those in great need of attention to their fitness, to those who have obviously spent endless hours training. In this particular case it was clear this lady was just getting started and her T-shirt confirmed it. In big letters across the front it said, “fresh start.”

I was impressed with her courage to commence with the training program and make her intentions as obvious as she did with the words on her shirt. While the training program can be daunting and no doubt exhausting, it was clear she had a plan and was willing to make a fresh start.

It got me thinking about the numerous times in my life that I’ve required a fresh start. For most of us progress comes both personally and in our business lives as two steps forward and one step backward. It would be nice if the line was always upward but we know from experience it’s not always the case.

In my work as a recruiter I often meet with people looking for a fresh start. In some cases the career path they have chosen simply doesn’t meet their needs or match their skill set. In other cases they’ve chosen to work for a company where the environment is less than satisfactory and sometimes even toxic. The result: Changes need to be made.

It’s always encouraging to check in with people who have made positive career changes and are experiencing all the good things that go along with that. Unfortunately, just as often I encounter people who need a fresh start but can’t seem to bring themselves to make changes.

There can be many reasons. Sometimes they don’t see the need even when those around them notice it clearly. Other times they understand the need for change but just can’t summon the courage to step forward in a different direction. I can think of one individual who I’ve met with several times over the years who continually expresses his dissatisfaction with his career. Yet, he never takes a real initiative to make changes. It’s a shame when it’s clear he could be much more satisfied in a new role in a more suitable environment.

All this leads to the question: What does it take to make a fresh start? In my experience we have to recognize the need for change, actively pursue potential options and then purposefully summon the will to act on our best instincts. Having support from friends, colleagues and perhaps even a mentor can be extremely helpful.

Several years ago on a golf course I met an individual who had clearly made a fresh start in his life. It’s not often that one game of golf leads to a significant personal discussion but in this case – for whatever reason – we really connected. I learned he had been in a business career for nearly 30 years and had done very well financially. That said, he never felt it was his true passion. As a hobby, he had always worked with his hands, and was particularly adept at woodcarving. He explained to me how he ended his business career at some significant risk and launched in a completely new direction that relied upon his woodcarving skills. With hard work and determination he began to sell his work successfully and was truly enjoying the change. It was evident in the few hours we spent together that he was at peace with his decision, and while earning substantially less income, was enjoying life far more. For him a fresh start was what he needed.

Is it time to ask yourself if you’re ready for a fresh start? You may not be willing to proclaim it to the world like the woman at the gym, but maybe that voice inside of you is asking: “Am I happy? Am I in the best work situation right now? Should I make a change?” Acknowledge that voice, don’t be afraid to change direction, and get the support you need to move forward. Like the woodcarving golfer, you’ll be glad you did.

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