There's no such thing as a second career.
We only have evolving careers, says marketing expert James Marshall Reilly. Reilly (pictured) wrote Shake the World: It's Not About Finding a Job, It's About Creating a Life. The book tackles the job market, social entrepreneurship and philanthro-capitalism, and will be released in late December.
"With all the talk of unemployment, we are [just] looking at what is wrong,” says Reilly,
“when we should really be focusing on the fact that there are a plethora of options out there right now—we’re often just looking in the wrong place."
We're lucky, because these days, our skills are more transferable. "Advances in technology have facilitated easy access to self-education and idea exploration," he says. That makes it easier to take information we’ve previously learned and apply it to other ideas, concepts, industries and businesses.
"These iterations allow the individual to grow intellectually rather than stagnate in one position," says Reilly. "They also allow for the influx of new ideas to established fields as people move around and infuse new lines of thinking into conventional and often rigid spaces."
Reilly likens the trend to the Renaissance period, when an explosion of ideas and changes abounded in society and the era embraced a "polymath approach."
“If you accept that we have landed in a new place, that things are not what they once were," says Reilly, “[you know] that this isn't a bad thing.” You can evolve your career and view the current economy and state of society as "one of the most exciting times in recent memory in terms of unbridled opportunity."
To be fair, evolving a career isn't easy. But you can be intentional about change. Here are eight tips from Reilly.
1. Embrace your size
Small businesses can implement changes a lot easier than a big companies can. Rather than obsess over whether something is the right change, test out your strategy and then examine the results. Hey, you can always change your strategy.
2. Focus on what works well and improve on it
It’s easier to make changes to something that is functioning well. You can see clearly what works better and what needs improvement.
3. Take small risks
You already have a functioning business and now you just want to help it evolve into something more. Pace yourself as you test things out. Trust your gut. “Often times our gut instincts lead to achieving the happiness, success and professional reward,” says Reilly.
4. Perpetuate a positive company culture
Happy workers produce the best quality work because their work and life is in balance. Be open to approaching challenges from a variety of angles and not just from one, singular, institutional approach. Put more focus on the process and not so much on the end result.
5. Cultivate real, offline relationships
Don't get too comfortable in front of your desktop. Step away and engage your community of peers and connections that exist in real life. LinkedIn and Facebook are valuable tools, but often people are more inclined to work with and help those they've connected with in real life.
6. Pursue your inner polymath
Explore the gamut of your interests and passions, and experiment. Channel your inner Renaissance person. “It is becoming increasingly easy to dabble,” says Reilly. “Just make sure not to spread yourself too thin.”
7. Profit with purpose
Seek out nontraditional opportunities that are counter-intuitive, ahead of the curve. "Incorporate giving into everything that you do," Reilly quotes Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS.
8. Embrace failure
"Failure is not a badge of shame, it's a rite of passage," says Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh.
Reilly adds, “Life is easy when decisions are made for us. If you get fired, you have to find a new job. It gets trickier with your own venture or project. If you aren’t failing badly enough, [it may not be] obvious that you have no choice but to move on.”
Poll: How has your business or career evolved?