In this episode, Maggie sits down with career change expert, Lisa Lewis Miller, to discuss how you can overcome your fears and uncertainty in order to strategically and responsibly make a career change.
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If there’s a job out there, Lisa Lewis Miller has probably done it. Lisa is a career change expert, author, and the founder of Career Clarity, a company helping individuals step into the careers they’ve been dreaming of. Lisa has been featured in *The Washington Post, Business Insider, US News and World Report, Fast Company, Refinery29 *and more, and received her coaching certification as one of only 7 coaches in the world trained in the Pivot Method. If you’re looking for someone who will believe in your potential career happiness as strongly as you do — and help equip you with the ideas and resources to make it happen — you can learn more about Lisa’s work at GetCareerClarity.com.
To join the Money Circle Community, visit www.maggiegermano.com/moneycircle.
To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit www.maggiegermano.com.
Maggie Germano 0:07
Thanks for listening to the money circle Podcast. I am your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationship with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life or in society as a whole. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In this safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We will break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.com/moneycircle to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there.
Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host, Maggie Germano. And this week, I’m chatting with Lisa Lewis Miller, who is a career change expert author and the founder of career clarity, a company and helping individuals step into the careers they’ve been dreaming of. In this episode, we discuss how you can overcome your fears and uncertainty in order to strategically creatively and responsibly make a career change. And joy.
Okay, welcome. Thank you so much for being here today.
Lisa Lewis Miller 1:44
Oh, thank you for having me, Maggie. It’s a pleasure.
Maggie Germano 1:47
Great. So why don’t we just start off by having you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Lisa Lewis Miller 1:54
Well, my name is Lisa Lewis Miller. And I’m still getting used to calling myself that because I got married over the summer and a teeny teeny Coronavirus pandemic wedding. So, beyond being a COVID bride, I am a career change coach. And my path to career change coaching has some interesting twists and turns that pull in a little bit of economic thinking, which I think really shifts the way that I approach conversations with my clients, because I started out my career in undergrad picking a major and I was torn between art history, psychology, and economics. And when I was trying to decide what I should major in, and you know, who I wanted to sort of be in the world and that way, the question that came forth for me was, Well, which one of these is going to make me the most employable, which one of these is going to allow me to make the most money. And so in an interesting way, that decision point, you know, when I was still in my late teens, became something of a I don’t even know if it’s like a like a prophecy or a vision for where my career my life went, because I then went into doing digital marketing, I didn’t do anything that had to do with economics in my career. But that way of thinking and that way of evaluating risks and evaluating opportunities, always kind of stuck with me. And so when I made the transition from the digital marketing space into career coaching back in 2015, one of the biggest things that I felt like I was thinking about I was doing that was a little bit different from your average career coach is thinking about not just economic opportunities, but opportunity costs, and making sure that you’re setting yourself up on a risk managed path, to both optimize for feeling more fulfilled, more excited more in alignment in your work, but also not making financial sacrifices that are so painful that they derail bigger life changes or life dreams. So that’s a little bit about me and my background, and why career coaching and money conversations, like the things that happened on the money circle feel so tied together in my mind, and my heart is that a lot of people approach conversations about career development from this, this sort of like lovely, like whipped cream, kind of an approach of like, well, let’s just think about everything you know, without worrying about your current life constraints without worrying about how much money will come from it, you know, what would you just love to do? And while that’s a really important thing to know, we also got to make sure that you can have the lifestyle that’s going to feel good for you, and it’s going to feel sustainable with whatever path you’re going down. Otherwise, just having a job that feels good, isn’t going to be enough.
Maggie Germano 4:55
Yeah, I think that’s so right. And I think even the conversation you kind of had with your in college when picking a major, I think is something that’s really important because I think we tend to, as a society kind of view things as an either or like you have to either major in something or pursue something that’s going to make you money and like, make sure that you always have a good job. Or you can pursue something that you actually love, and then not make any money, and then have to figure something else down the road. And I think it’s really smart and thoughtful to think about both of those at the same time. Because maybe you minor in the passion project, and the issue, you know, or the topic that you’re really passionate about, but maybe is not as employable, and major and the other one, or maybe you’re really specific about where you intern, or the types of classes you’re taking, so that you can point to different experiences, so that you can be a little bit more employable as you kind of get into the workforce. And I mean, that’s something I think about a lot with, I’m expecting my first child, and we my husband was a music major, and I was a political science major, and he completely switched careers after college. But we talk about like, how do we how do we, how are we going to talk to our kid about like, making sure that they’re kind of choosing a path economically that like makes sense for them, so they can support themselves without fully discouraging them from doing the things that they like? So it’s a hard it’s a hard balance?
Lisa Lewis Miller 6:34
Well, and I think that what you’re highlighting about that the Yes, and and finding that beautiful Venn diagram overlap between the two, is so so important, because I if I were to look back on little Lisa, and the decision making process you went through in college, she was thinking way, way too much about what can make money. Because, I mean, my goodness, every single job that exists on the planet exists because the the service, the value that is being created is worth money to somebody. So I think that there were some some flaws in my thinking back then of worrying about, you know, there are only you know, 10 or 20, things that will actually make money. But I think that your point about also not going so far on the other side of the spectrum that you’re only thinking about, you know, things that are beautiful and joyful, that may not necessarily create the life that you want, right going, that bar is not going to be healthy and happy either. And I’m a big believer in looking for all the different pathways to that, yes. And because you can have beautiful interests that feel like these sort of whipped cream interests that you think how on earth could I possibly monetize these. But if you start then thinking strategically about all the different possible ways to create value through those interests, you can find some really interesting Pathways Forward. And I’ll share a story or two about some folks that I’ve worked with, because I just wrote a new book, and it’s called guru clarity. And in it, there is a whole chapter called the money versus happy paradox. And this whole way of thinking and ways to try to find that Venn diagram and the Yes, and, and one of the folks that I’ve worked with in the past was, came to me feeling super unhappy, super unfulfilled, was working in a very data, heavy analytical job, but had a secret love for high fashion, had this love and desire to be involved in that industry in some way. But also looked at the reality of getting into that industry at the ground floor entry level, how hyper competitive it is, how salaries can be really, really tricky. If say, you were to go and work directly for a Tory Burch. So what we did was we said, okay, if that’s true, and that pathway is not going to be allowing you to move in the direction that you want your financial dreams to go in, what is the Venn diagram, where’s the Yes, and between your analytical capabilities and the stuff that we know can make you real good money and that you don’t dislike doing but that we can get more in alignment with the stuff that’s, that’s fun and joyful and interesting for you. And ultimately, she ended up moving into a role doing Facebook ad optimization and management, for fashion brands, working for Facebook. So getting to be still a part of this world that she was so excited about and loved, but also bringing some of her very monetizable skills to the table to make it financially work for her. And I’ll say to that, you know, there can be a lot of fear and nervousness around looking at other paths that tend to be in the sort of lower paying space, kind of like that entry level fashion merchandising job would have been Things like going into social work or going into teaching. But I’m a big believer that if this is where you feel called to and pulled to, let’s get creative with the ways to make it work and monetize it, because you could get paid for speaking gigs or books for courses for consulting, for doing all kinds of stuff, to create more of a portfolio career that can help your money and you’re happy move in the same direction at the same time.
Maggie Germano 10:30
Yeah, I think that’s, that’s so important. And it’s so easy for people to forget that i think i think that in our society, we kind of talk about career as like, you picked your career, that’s your linear path for the rest of your career until you retire. Or if you change it and decide to chase something that makes you a little bit more fulfilled or a little bit happier, you’re gonna have to take a huge pay cut, and it’s going to be a whole life style disruption. And most people can’t afford to do something like that, like they can’t afford to cut their pay in half to change their career path or to leave the workforce to go to grad school or whatever it might be. And so people either don’t then change what they’re doing at all, and they stay in something that they’re kind of unhappy in, or they do make the change. And then like you’ve said, like they’re suffering financially, or they’re not able to reach some of those other goals that they wanted to achieve in their lives. And, and it sounds like what you’re saying is, it’s, it’s more complicated than that, like, you have to get creative, you have to be thoughtful. And there are ways to find solutions that are just not always as clear as we think they should be.
Lisa Lewis Miller 11:47
100%. And I think that the amount of control that we have over how we stretch $1, and how we achieve our goals is way bigger than sometimes we give ourselves credit for. Right there was an article that came out on I think it was a local CBS affiliate last year around the holidays, about a an elderly man who had just passed away. And he had been a social worker, and he lived alone, never married. And at the end of his life, when he passed away, in his estate, they discovered that he had amassed more than $1.5 million to give to charities and organizations that he really believed in. And he worked a lot like a government social work, like not a whole lot of opportunities to climb up the ladder and make more money kind of a job. And yet he found ways to get real creative to leave a legacy and an impact that was important to him. So I think that there’s there’s creativity and flexibility about the career piece of it of how might I add more income streams? how might I add more capabilities? how might I add a specialization that makes me more valuable to the marketplace? But there’s also the creativity within us of how can I prioritize what matters most and maybe make some trade offs or some different decisions on what matters right now. And I know that I had to do that in my own life to be able to be in the entrepreneurial position that I’m in and Maggie, I bet you probably have a story like this too. But when I was by myself in corporate doing digital ad buys for an ad tech startup and this very sexy looking job and super unhappy. I knew I wanted to try entrepreneurship. And when I looked at my finances, I said there is no flipping way, based on the way that I am spending money right now that I’m going to be able to make entrepreneurship work, because my overhead is too high. Right? The cost of my living situation is too high. The cost of the amount of money that I’m spending, eating out is too high. I need to pay down my loans. And I had just gotten a new car because I had gotten a promotion about six months before I was making the best money I’ve ever made. I thought you know what I’m gonna treat myself I’m gonna get a new car. And so when I got clear that the car was not bringing me as much joy as having more autonomy and more choice over my career path was going to I sold my brand new car and bought a piddly little Used Toyota Corolla. And that was not sexy, right? That was not the ideal situation or the ideal decision. But when I was willing to trade off the heated seats and you know all the fanciness I got in the new car, or a car with crank windows. It opened up other opportunities and other possibilities for me in ways that couldn’t have existed if I was paying, you know, whatever it was 300 400 bucks a month. car payments into perpetuity. So I think that there’s some real interesting spaciousness and area for exploration within yourself and how you’re making decisions around money and what you value that may have more creativity, more wiggle room within them, then it might look like at first blush.
Maggie Germano 15:22
Right. And I think I think people struggle with the well what feels like a restriction piece when it comes to money of like, tightening up the budget or making certain sacrifices like trading it, selling that car and getting a cheaper car. And for a lot of people, that’s not always something they want to do. And I think that that’s perfectly fine. But like you were saying, kind of balancing what are the bigger ultimate goals that you’re trying to reach? And what are things that you’re willing and able to be either sacrificing or maybe just kind of down turning a little bit for a period of time, and just understanding that nothing’s necessarily forever, like, you don’t have to drive the crank window Toyota for the rest of your life like you can if you get to a point where you’re earning more money, and there is more space, you can upgrade again. I’ve definitely had clients who they were living on their own, and then they decided to move back in with roommates because they were like, I need to pay off this credit card, or I am making a career change, that’s going to pay a little bit less. And so I need to have more money kind of to work with and but it can feel really tough to make decisions like that. Because I think I think we kind of view things like that as like admitting defeat or falling backwards when it’s like, no, this is actually a strategic decision that I’m making. Now that’s going to get me to where I want to be, eventually, and reminding yourself of that kind of ultimate goal, frequently, I think helps a lot more than like, looking at the day to day of like, Oh, God, I can’t believe I have roommates again, like I loved living alone, but it’s like, Okay, well, what, what is that end goal and keeping that in mind.
Lisa Lewis Miller 17:08
100%. And I feel like there are two pieces of that piece number one is the courage and the willingness to have some, some additional discipline around the behaviors and the choices that you’re making around money that are uncomfortable. But the second piece that I think is a way way bigger piece in a way more important piece is the story that we tell ourselves about what the money means, what the choice means, what it means about who we are as people, because the story that we tell ourselves, then usually choreographs how we feel then choreographs the way that we’re thinking about future decisions, right. Because if I had looked at selling my car and thinking like, Man, I’m a big fat failure, because at this point in my career, I should have a nice car, I shouldn’t be driving around a janky Corolla that the corresponding feelings that go with a thought like that are shame, disappointment, embarrassment, wanting to sort of hide wanting to play small, it essentially, the willingness to give up a dream because of the story you’re telling yourself that’s creating the discomfort and the feelings. And so the emotional management piece of noticing the stories that you’re telling yourself about your decisions and making sure that they are empowered, and coming from an empowered place. And that you don’t have haters in your circle who are poisoning the stories that you’re saying about yourself is really important, because there’s so many influences that come into the stories that we tell ourselves about all decisions, but especially money decisions, right? There are the influences from your friends, there are influences from your family, their influences from your cultural or ethnic background and influences there. There are influences that come from a society and the media that you’re consuming. And that’s a lot of messages to be taking in about your decisions and who you are. So be able to peel back some of the layers to say, Okay, well what does this decision mean to me? And what’s the hope for a future that I’m moving towards with this decision can make it feel a lot more empowering and a lot easier then to stick with the discipline and continue to make the trade offs. And I I’ll tell you two that I earned my own money story have been a person who, when I get excited enough about an idea or a dream, that the excitement is occupying more room in my body and in my brain and my heart than the fear. I can do awesome stuff with money. But it’s feeding the excitement and feeding the dream that enables the rest of it to happen. So for example, I always had this lifelong dream to go to Italy. And I kept waiting and waiting my adulthood to find somebody who would go with me and make this sort of like beautiful, wonderful. I don’t know if it would be romantic or a friend thing, but I just was always looking for who’s going to go with me who’s gonna take this trip with me so that we can defer costs so that we’ve only got to pay for one hotel room and all those things. And ultimately, I got to a point in 2013, where I realized, nobody’s coming. Nobody’s like coming out of the woodwork and saying, Yes, Lisa, I am ready. Let’s pick dates, let’s book airfare. And so I thought to myself, well, I guess I got to foot the bill for this whole thing myself. And so I lean into the excitement. And I leaned into the dream of like, what would make this trip to Italy, incredible. Like, since I’m going by myself, I get to pick everything that I do. And every place that I go eat it, all the pieces of it. And so I sketched out the itinerary of where I wanted to go. And then I went through and said, Okay, let me price out my dream. How much is it gonna cost? What’s the rough cost of a plane ticket? What’s the rough cost of accommodations in each of these places per night? What do I think is a reasonable amount of money to save for having meals?
And once I priced it out, then the question was taking a look at my current spending to say, Okay, how do I feel like I could squeeze maybe another 100 or 200 bucks a month into savings out of my current paycheck? What do I need to give up to make that happen. And then if I’m able to squeeze 100, or 200 bucks a month out of savings, when does that allow me to go take this trip without having to put any of it on a credit card. And so having to push it out into the future in a year doesn’t feel great. But the idea of getting to go and go by yourself and have it on your terms and stay in the hostel right on the water and the Amalfi Coast, like all that feels pretty good. And it shifts the way that you think, because once you think to yourself, I can do this, I am doing this, I can totally go on a vacation by myself, I can totally do this on my own and on my own terms, then, when you’re say, at work, and your coworkers want to go out for lunch, and you know, you brought something you’re not super excited about it, and you’re feeling tempted to go with them, then you start doing the mental calculation of, if I go out to lunch, it’s gonna cost me about half a night at a hostel. And that way of thinking shifts everything of like, shoot, I don’t want to give up the progress that I’m making here. I don’t want to give up and i and i still someplace fabulous. So the stories that we tell ourselves about what we’re capable of what our decisions mean, and how we can get to them. Not only make it feel better, but they can set us up for success and achieving Cool, cool things that other people would never dream up.
Maggie Germano 23:12
Yeah, I love that story. I think it’s it’s such a perfect example of like, how how it’s possible, even if it takes a little while to set those goals, shift your behaviors in order to reach those goals. And I mean, one of the big things I make my clients do is like identify their actual life goals and identify how and their values and then how those actually connect to money and their money habits. And how are those not actually being reflected in their money habits. Because if you’re actually feeling motivated by that goal, and like you were saying, feeling more of the excitement, then the fear, or the fear of restriction, or whatever the fear is of, then you’re going to be much more motivated, you’re going to keep those goals Top of Mind, like you said, it’s not going to just be about, oh, I shouldn’t go out to lunch, because I shouldn’t be spending money. It’s, I’m choosing not to go out to lunch, because I want this $20 to be going towards this big goal or this trip, or whatever it is that the the goal is the end goal. And yeah, I think I think that’s a great way to frame it too. Because I think the way that a lot of people talk about money is like, you have to be responsible. So these are just the ways you should be doing it. Or don’t spend too much on this or don’t spend too much on that. And that means nothing to most people, that means nothing to almost any of us, right? So it’s more about the goals. It’s more about the why you’re doing it instead of just you know, because some guy on the internet told you to.
Lisa Lewis Miller 24:44
Totally and the idea of, you know, spend on the things that you love, spend on the things that are in alignment with your values, and be willing to be ruthless about making cuts or trade offs or whatever else you need to do to empower yourself to live on your own. Right, like, Who cares if some dude on the internet says you shouldn’t buy a house unless your mortgage is gonna be, you know, less than 25% of your total spending for the month? If you want a house, and you can run the numbers to make it make sense and take care of yourself and be risk managed about it, shoot, go for it, make it happen. You know, there’s so many different levers that are available to us if we’re willing to get clear on what we want, how it ties to money, how ties are our values, and then start figuring out what steps it would take to make it happen.
Maggie Germano 25:35
Yeah, absolutely. I completely agree. So when it comes to career, and someone who wants to be making a career transition, anytime, really, but especially during a time, like now, because I know, I’m hearing from people who the pandemic is giving a lot of perspective right now, and being kind of stuck at home for a lot of people where it’s giving them a lot of time to think about what they really want to be doing. Just a quick example, my financial advisor is going to leave her field and become an acupuncturist, because the holistic health world is something that she’s much more passionate about. And so she’s had this time to kind of think and plan for the year. And she’s going to go to school to learn how to be an acupuncturist. And so that’s a huge change for her. And do you think it’s possible, especially right now, for folks to kind of comfortably or maybe not comfortably, but like financially make the decision to kind of take a career pivot and make changes, while we’re in the midst of a global pandemic? or just general life kind of disruptions?
Lisa Lewis Miller 26:49
Yes, the answer’s yes. And here’s, here’s why. So Thing number one to think about is that in the history of our country, in the history of the economy, there has never been a time when given enough time, the market hasn’t made a full recovery, if not then going on and exceeding performance from previous times. And so limiting yourself today, based on what’s going on right now, is going to have big long term consequences. And we don’t want to minimize your opportunity for longitudinal life happiness based on what’s going on in this exact moment and era. So remembering that you have permission to dream, and you have permission to come up with these big, bold, awesome plans for what you want to do, is really important in a time like this. And I’ll say to that, your comment about, you know, being in the midst of this pandemic, in the midst of this economic funkiness that can bring up a lot of nervousness and fear about the risks. Like what if I try to make a move, and it doesn’t work out? What if I apply for these jobs, and nobody gives me an interview. And when there are times when you’re exposed to more risk, the best thing to do is not to bury your head in the sand and just do your positive affirmations and your toxic positivity of like this, I’ll be fine. I’ll manifest it. It’ll be like perfect and wonderful on the other side of this. It’s to take care of yourself and say, Okay, how do I manage this risk? What are the things that I can put in place to keep myself safe and protected and minimize the exposure to negative consequences that could be ahead of me. So Thing number one to be thinking about, which I’m sure longtime money circle listeners are already thinking about is setting yourself up with an emergency fund of some sort, such that if heaven forbid, you lost your current role, you’d have some kind of financial runway to lean on to figure out your next move. Right. So that’s a great way to minimize risk, and set yourself up with some financial peace of mind and some continuity, if something were to happen. And I’ll say that, for the most part, I think that the the biggest impacts to companies in terms of layoffs, we’re probably past at this point, it’s probably going to be a lot more of companies stabilizing and turning back into growth mode slowly. So I think that if you’re, if you haven’t lost your job, at this point, it is a lot less likely that you’re going to lose it than it would have been in the previous six months. So take some solace and some peace in that. But also set up your emergency fund just in case so that if the worst happens, you’ve got a backup plan and you aren’t feeling like you’re in an immediate money panic as well as a job panic. But other things you can be doing to mitigate risk is if you want to make a move into a new job or A new industry right now, take a look at what’s going on in that industry with respect to the current events, right, this is not the time to making a move into hospitality or into travel.
I wish I could tell you otherwise. But I, as a person who has an economic mindset, I want to give you the risk manage perspective here of these industries have taken some hits that they’re going to recover from over time. But this is not the best time to be getting into those spaces. So do a little bit of due diligence and research on what’s going on in the industry in the field in the sector, to see where things are stable and where things are growing to then come up with your own plan for where you want to go. Next. If you want to go into hospitality and travel, find something that is perpendicular to those industries to make a transition to in the short term to gain applicable transferable skills that you can bring into that world once things are a little bit more in growth mode again. And that could look a lot of different ways that could look like moving into a function that has to do with customer service or customer experience, it could be moving into a function that has to do with logistics and internal events management or virtual events, management, you know, there could be lots of different ways to pull off a move like that. And if you’re feeling nervous about the risk of making a transition, because you’re not sure if your resume is up to snuff, or if you’re going to be taken seriously in the field that you want to move into. That’s that’s a manageable risk. You know, get support, talk to a resume writer, talk to a coach, talk to somebody who can give you an external perspective and say, okay, based on what we’ve got right here in your resume, here’s who you’re going to appeal to, here’s who’s going to give you an interview, here’s how you come across. Is this the brand? And is this a professional narrative that you want people to be seeing about you. So I feel like in a lot of ways we think about this as emotional management. And we think about it as using using our resources as tools. And the question just becomes How can I best problem solve, to use the tools that are available to get the support that’ll help me make my transition happen?
Maggie Germano 32:09
That’s fantastic advice. And not only just the How to be, you know, financially prepared with an emergency fund, and making sure that there is that security, but also, again, going back to that creativity piece of being really thoughtful about like, how can I dip my toe into being a little bit more qualified for this industry, I eventually want to get into whether it’s an industry that’s suffering right now, and you want to kind of delay so that things are recovered a little bit by the time you get into it, or just something else that you’ve never really participated in, that you’re kind of afraid to try to transition to because you don’t have like a clear path of connection there. I mean, I mentioned grad school very briefly earlier, but I often have people coming to me being like, I’m not sure what I want to do next, or I want to do this thing. And so like, obviously, I have to go to grad school in order to either figure out what I want to do next or to be qualified for that. And, of course, like that’s a huge financial risk, potentially taking on debt and things like that. That can be a hard decision for certain people to make and, and maybe sometimes that is like, okay, yes, you want to be a therapist, or a doctor, like, obviously, you have to go back to school to qualify for those sorts of things. But there are plenty of other things that you can, like you said, look at the skill set that you currently have and see how can that connect, or at least get you to kind of you know, bridge jobs that will eventually connect you to that dream industry or that dream job. And, and just accepting that, like, bridge jobs are actually perfectly fine. And they can get you ultimately to where you want to be even if that next job is not the one it can help get you there. I love I love the the piece about just how creative and thoughtful you have to be about that.
Lisa Lewis Miller 34:11
Well, and I think that that creativity and thoughtfulness also comes back to making decisions about grad school, right? Because there is there’s a certain societal influence or pressure that says like, well, when the economy is taking a turn, like go back to school, and by the time you’re done with school, you’ll pop out the economy will be in a different place, it’ll you’ll be much more employable. But oh my gosh, I probably everybody listening to this, or almost everybody listening to this has the experience of either having student loan debt that can feel oppressive or crushing, or knows somebody who has student loan debt that can feel oppressive and crushing. And if you take on that debt, and then you pop out at the other side of your degree and you feel like you’re not loving the work that you’re doing in your field or you didn’t actually need to get the degree it makes things feel really challenging, it makes things feel really limiting, it makes you feel like you only have a couple of directions that you can move in for your career. And I, I’ll tell you, I’ve worked with a fair number of deeply unhappy lawyers. And lawyers, by far seem to have this huge pressure of, I took out $200,000 worth of loans to get my law degree. And I hate law. And I don’t know what I want to be doing next. But I can’t afford to make a lot of choices because my, my loan payments are between 515 100 bucks a month. So I’m a big believer and using that creativity, to test opportunities to make sure that the path that you want to go down requires a degree to do it well. Or that you love school enough, and you have the financial means that you can go to school. And that’s not going to be a big deal for you to either pay up front or to pay the loans on the other end of it, right, because like I said, If you value and love school, and that’s where you want to invest your money, oh my gosh, go do it, make it happen. But if you’re going to school, because you feel like it’s the thing that you have to do to open up a door to work in an industry that you’re interested about, there might be other ways to get your foot in the door, just like you were saying, Maggie, that could be much more affordable. That could be a bridge job, or somebody is actually paying you to make the transition and learn the skills and the industry knowledge that you need to be successful. So there can be way more spaciousness and expansiveness and possibility. Again, if we let ourselves think creatively about what we value most what we want most and pathways to get there. And I will give you a funny story about law school. So I, I interviewed a guy once who works as a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder School of Business, as a person with a JD, he doesn’t really think of himself as a lawyer. Because when Eric went to graduate school, he went to go get a law degree, not because he wanted to practice as a lawyer, but because he loved economics. And he wanted to work in the world of economic policy. And what he was finding was that for every single job that he was excited about and interested in, in the world of academia, they don’t take you seriously. And they won’t hire you for these roles unless you have a terminal degree. And he thought, well, I could go get a PhD in economics should be like five to seven years, ton of money. And something that I don’t really care that much about, because I’m more interested in that the policy piece. Or I could go get my JD, only take three years have a terminal degree and still be eligible for the kind of jobs that I want. And so for him, getting his his law degree, was the most financially savvy decision he could make to open up the career doors that he wanted, despite not actually wanting to be a lawyer. So then the way that we thought about the decision making process was not what’s the fancy schmancy as law school I can get into, it was, who’s going to give me the most money? How do I minimize my student loan debt after this, so that I have optionality. And so he was able to get his law degree almost completely funded by not going to a top 20 Law School, because ultimately, he just needed the degree of the piece of paper to do the work he wanted to do. And it’s also allowed for him to move into the world of academia full time in a way he wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. So creative thinking about your career path can look a lot of different ways of getting clear on what’s negotiable, and what’s non negotiable, can make a huge difference in picking the ideal path for you.
Maggie Germano 39:03
Yeah, that’s so true. And that’s a great story too, because it sounds like he was very strategic. And it was very much a personal, dis individualized decision for him of like, where he wanted to end up and what the different paths were to get there. And for, for many people going to law school is not the better financial choice. But for him it was and and I’m always telling people, like if you’re interested in grad school, yes, find the ways you can try to minimize the debt as much as possible. I had a friend who she decided to go get her master’s in English, which I don’t know how much of a bump that would end up giving her in her career in terms of income, but it was really important to her to do it. And she ended up finding a school that they literally not only did she get it fully funded, but she got a stipend while she was attending to be a TA and do some other things on campus. And so even though she was was removing herself from the workforce for a couple of years, she was still making money and not accruing debt while she was in school. And then she had this master’s degree that she really wanted. And so she didn’t have this major financial hit at the end of it, it ended up being a very good thing for her. And it was a strategic decision where she had to really see like, what are the different schools that have these programs I’m looking for? And what are they willing to offer me, and then make a decision, basically, depending on that, and it really worked out for her. And it sounds like it worked out for for your client as well.
Lisa Lewis Miller 40:36
Yeah, and an important thing that highlight about both of those stories is that they didn’t let the stories or the cultural pressures about what a graduate degree means or what the best school is, or blah, blah, blah, get in the way of them making the decision that enabled them to live their best life. Right, if Eric could listen to common wisdom about going to law school, everybody says like, well, if you don’t get into a top 40 school, you know, or a top 20 school or a top 10 school, it’s not worth your money, it’s not worth going, you’re just throwing money away, you’re lighting it on fire. And for Eric, it was like, No, no, they’re gonna pay me to do this. And then I’m going to use this degree to go launch into the thing that I really love. the prestige of the organization doesn’t necessarily matter, as much as me walking away with clarity on my specialization clarity on what I can bring to the table. And with the piece of paper at the end, and it sounds like for, for our English grad school friend, as well, that, you know, if you wanted to go to the most prestigious English master’s program, it’s unlikely you’re going to get a ton of grant money to go there. Because they’ve got tons and tons of competition for those seats, they get to sort of like stick their noses in the air, I’d be the best of the best, and make you pay for it. Right make you pay for their name and for their brand equity. But if what you’re wanting is to have the piece of paper on the other side and have an interesting, rich academic experience, you have way more pathways to do that and create that, if you can free yourself from the story, that the only grad program that’s worth going to is that most recognizable name, or the highest price, or this and this and that.
Maggie Germano 42:18
Yeah, I totally agree. And I think one of the best decisions I ever made personally was going to a State School for college for undergrad. My mom really wanted me to go to this private school that she really liked. And it was, you know, I was somewhat tempted, but then I was even at that age, like, Wait, how much does it cost school versus this school. And I really, you know, I ended up having a great experience at my school and making certain connections. And that’s what brought me to DC with some of the opportunities I had through that school, even though it was like this tiny little state school that hardly anyone has ever heard of ended up being a really good decision for me and like, I still had student loans, but I was able to pay them off, you know, well, before I turned 30. And and it’s nobody ever really asked me where I went, especially when I was applying for jobs like as long as I had a bachelor’s degree, that’s kind of all they cared about. So, yeah, so I totally agree on that piece. And when it comes to the stories, because I know that with career with money with the prestige, it can be really tough and it can be really distracting. What do you what kind of advice you usually give your clients when you’re working with them to kind of let go of some of those stories that are not serving them or develop new stories that can actually help move them in the direction they want to go.
Lisa Lewis Miller 43:43
Um, it’s a great question, and one where I pull from a lot of other people’s tools and a lot of other people’s stuff to help facilitate the process. Because if we have a dream, and a hope and a desire and something we’re getting excited about, but the fear is bigger than the dream, right? The fear is occupying more space, we’re giving it more of our energy, it’s feeling much more real and much more present. The question start with, what is it that you’re most afraid of? And why are you afraid of that? And why are you afraid of, you know, the second layer, and really digging into understanding where the fears come from. And then from there, you can go a couple different routes to better understand the thoughts that are driving the fears. And a great route to try is Byron Katie is this wonderful woman who has this body of work called the work where she teaches you this way to relate to your thoughts that creates intellectual space and distance between your thoughts. And it is this process of inquiry that starts with asking yourself well is this true? Is 100% true? Every single court of law, no matter what the jury looked like, would decide the exact same way that is 100% the truth of the matter. And if there’s anything about that fear that may not be 100% true, then it opens up some interesting area for exploration about like, well, what could be true, or what’s a different way of looking at the situation that might feel more empowering or more open or more exciting. But another tool you might need to use if that one doesn’t resonate for you, is doing a fear mapping exercise of You know what, let’s actually just accept your fears as they are. And instead of trying to do thought work and get curious and try to change them, let’s just plan for them. Let’s assume everything bad you think is going to happen happens? How can you do a risk management chart to set yourself up to deal with whatever happens. And sometimes that way of thinking through your fears can actually be really empowering to when you realize, oh, worst case scenario, if I get fired, and I cannot get another job anywhere else, is that I go crash on my sister’s couch for a couple months, or I move in with an old friend of mine, or I go get a bunch of roommates, you know, or, you know, lots of different things could be possible there. But I think that understanding the fear behind the fear or the story behind the fear, and then the different ways that you can relate to that, by reframing it, by planning for it, even just by recognizing it and acknowledging it can help give you the space to then think about what else might be possible from a more joyful, excited positive energy.
Maggie Germano 46:48
That’s great. And I had an acupuncturist who recommended Byron Katie’s the work as well. And that’s something that has been really helpful in mitigating my anxiety just about, you know, life and anything that can kind of come up. And I have found that yes, sitting down and being like, okay, what’s the worst that can happen? Sometimes it’s not as bad as you think like, even the worst thing isn’t necessarily the worst thing that could actually happen. And then yeah, like you said, What are the what are the solutions you could potentially put in place? Or even figuring out like, what is your risk tolerance? Like? Are you willing to stay on your sister’s couch for an indefinite period of time? Or is that actually going to be fine? Yeah, I think that’s really good advice.
Lisa Lewis Miller 47:37
I mean, I think that the underlying punchline here is that everybody has fears. And everybody has stories, when it comes to what’s possible for you, with your money with your current money with your future money, based on your past money decisions. And that, it’s not fun to let the fear run your life. And that if you can get to the point where you can start mapping out strategies to mitigate your fears, or just better understand the drivers of your fears, to give them less control over your decision making power. Even if you don’t love where that leaves you right, like even if that still leaves you with debt, even if it still leaves you with not the kind of savings or emergency fund that you want, you can look at it and have a different relationship, a different emotional relationship to the facts, that can enable you to make some forward looking plans that feel much more hopeful, and allow you to feel much more the way that you want to feel when it comes to money and to your life.
Maggie Germano 48:41
Thank you. Yeah, that’s I think that’s a really important takeaway for people too, that like, even if it’s not the ideal, you can still figure out ways to move forward and ways to set yourself up so that it’ll be okay, eventually.
Lisa Lewis Miller 48:55
Yeah, everything is progress.
Maggie Germano 48:59
So is there anything else that we haven’t touched on yet related to either financially preparing to make a career pivot or being really strategic and creative when it comes to making a career pivot? Anything that you haven’t mentioned that you want to make sure listeners take away from this conversation?
Lisa Lewis Miller 49:20
I think that kind of like we were talking about what the punchline before. The most important thing to keep in mind is that if you’re willing to be creative with your trade offs, dang near anything is possible. If you’re willing to be creative with your trade off of how quickly something happens, or how quite high quality or expensive something is, or where something happens, or with whom something happens. You can make incredible things happen over the course of your life. If you give yourself permission to believe they’re possible. If you give yourself permission to look at the stories and the nervousness and the fears that come up, and you give yourself permission to make The plan to make it happen. So be not afraid of your dreams or your ambitions or your sense of dissatisfaction in your current work. Because if you let those be true, and then you extrapolate out what kinds of actions you want to take, based on those feelings, you can create a really beautiful, interesting, rich life.
Maggie Germano 50:25
And that’s great. I think, I think that’s going to be really inspiring for people too, because it’s easy to forget that we get stuck in the day to day anxieties and worries. And if we have a little bit more control over things, then it might seem like sometimes.
Lisa Lewis Miller 50:44
Maggie Germano 50:46
So is there anything that you have going on right now that you want to promote to listeners make sure everybody knows about?
Lisa Lewis Miller 50:53
Well, I appreciate you asking. And if this conversation has been resonating with anybody listening, I’d love to invite you to check out my new book, it comes out on November 17. So you can find out information about either pre ordering or ordering depending on when you’re listening to this at get careerclarity.com/book.
Maggie Germano 51:13
One wonderful, and I will link that in the show notes too. So everybody has easy access to that. And how can folks follow along with you and the work you’re doing?
Lisa Lewis Miller 51:23
If you’re interested in learning more, and maybe not ready to buy a book just yet, but you want to check out more about us in the work that we do at career clarity, you can go to get career clarity, comm to learn more about the business, our methodology for how we support people in making career transitions. And then you can of course, find us on social media, as well at @careerclarity.
Maggie Germano 51:43
Great, I’ll share those as well. So thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. This was a really fun conversation. And I think that other people, especially if they’re in in this thought process right now of making a career transition eventually, and they’re not sure how to kind of start down the road to making that happen. I think this will be your advice, and your stories will be really really motivating and an inspirational for them.
Lisa Lewis Miller 52:09
Oh, Maggie, thank you for having me. And thank you for creating this little bit of motivation and inspiration that people get to consume every single week because the people who you bring on to help teach folks to think differently about money are awesome.
Maggie Germano 52:23
Oh, thank you. I appreciate that. It’s a lot of fun to do.
Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper. Join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space. We will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.com/moneycircle to learn more. And to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at Maggiegermano.com/subscribe. To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just to read my blog visit Maggiegermano.com. You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye
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