How I Went From Miserable Executive to Thriving & Happy Business-of-One

<b class="credit">Image by Shutterstock</b>
Image by Shutterstock

Welcome to the "AOL Career Luck Project." Inspired by you, our readers, this weekly series offers practical advice by showcasing real-life examples of career makeovers. Learn to create your own career luck using the tips and techniques given to project participants. Every Thursday.

Meet J.T.

Oh wait? That's me!

As the founder of the AOL Career L.U.C.K. Project, my amazing Editor, Laurie pointed out I've never explained how this program came to be. I realized I should share how I used this very same process to dramatically change my own career. As a career coach, I really was my first client!

Career Luck Project: Becoming A Thriving Business-Of-One
Career Luck Project: Becoming A Thriving Business-Of-One

Mistake #1 - Following the Rules

Growing up, I was the first-born with a type-A personality. I did what they told me to do, with "they" being society, my parents, etc. I was told to go to college, get a job, and focus on climbing the corporate ladder. I was an obedient student.

By age 33, I had it all - or did I? I was making a six-figure salary, ran a $30M division of a company, had lots of staff reporting to me, a car allowance, benefits, etc. I was living the dream. The problem was, I was MISERABLE.

You see, I:

  • was 40 lbs overweight, out of shape, with high blood pressure.

  • had a house I was never in.

  • had a husband I never saw.

  • was completely out of touch with family and friends.

Something was very, very wrong. But, I wasn't ready to fix it. Until...

Big Blue Eyes Called Me Out

The birth of my first child gave me the wake-up call I needed. As I looked into her eyes, I realized I was her main teacher in life. She would take all her cues from me. Sadly, I didn't like myself. How could I continue this path when I knew she would see right through me? I was petrified of spending the next 20 years showing her how to be miserable too. My husband and I agreed, it was time for me to figure it out, once and for all.

Career L.U.C.K. Brought Me To YOU!

Here's what happened next:

Locate the Problem - I realized I had been on career auto-pilot my whole life. It was time to get off the treadmill and look closely at what career success really meant to me. I had to stop impressing others and focus on impressing the only person that really mattered: me.

Uncover the Issue - As I dug deeper, it was clear the source of my deep dissatisfaction was coming from the fact that my definition of career success was focused on external rewards (i.e. money, raises, perks, praise, etc.). Each time I achieved one or more of these, while they should have made me happy, the made me feel worse. Why? They were bribes. The work wasn't making me proud or excited. The external rewards made me feel empty and unfulfilled.

Create A New Plan - I decided to focus on my passion. I defined passion as a problem bigger than myself that I wanted to spend significant time and energy trying to solve. Something that would challenge me and make me feel I was making a difference.

Know Your Next Steps - I knew I had to inventory my strengths, unique gifts, and preferences to determine how I could leverage my passion. I also realized I needed a process for matching them up to a problem I wanted to solve. As I looked for some logical, effective career resources, I found there weren't any! I soon realized I had discovered my new career direction. I could use my background in HR, training, management, and development to build a methodology that could help all the people like me find greater career satisfaction.

I went on to become a career coach. People thought I was CRAZY for leaving my stable, high-paying job. But, I knew what I had to do. I studied all the misguided rules and advice society was giving professionals and created a proven process people could use to release themselves from the "Golden Handcuffs" that often hold us hostage in our careers. My passion and commitment to solving this problem resulted in the most amazing professional opportunities. 13+ years of very hard, but satisfying work later, I was able to:

Build a thriving private career coaching practice.
Write a book outlining my methodology.
Become a nationally syndicated columnist.
Launch a top-ranked FREE career advice site.
Create the first virtual career coaching membership site for those in need of affordable help.
Become a LinkedIn Influencer.

And, best of all... get invited to create the AOL Career L.U.C.K. Project!

If I Can Do It, Trust Me, So Can YOU!

If I seem like a ball of enthusiasm (just watch my video and you'll see), I can't help it. When you have been as miserable as I was in my career and managed to completely turn things around, you wish you could bottle it and give people a taste. But, the only way you'll experience it is if you believe you can create your own Career L.U.C.K. I hope my story inspires you to try!