Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis. – Martha Beck

Until late last year, my career had been dedicated to sales, mentoring, coaching and leading an exceptional sales force.

I once was a woman who: would never have children, would earn a six figure income, was a loyal over achiever, traveled to exotic places, would live in my dream home, and who wanted to be involved in the highly charged corporate world forever!

Fast forward fifteen years...

I have become a woman who ... is grateful to have a healthy and happy daughter, who has earned the six figure income plus all the perks, who has traveled to many delightful places, who currently lives in the home of my dreams, and who has become a successful entrepreneur.

Commence with the metamorphosis...

A sacred knowing or astuteness accompanies the first foray into motherhood. Children have a way of smacking you upside the head with an uber dose of what is truly critical. Having a child became the catalyst for a complete lifestyle transformation. The high stress of being corporate Shann and doing business in someone else's board room was losing its appeal. Even though the chosen path resulted in the realization of my goals and dreams, I quickly became completely disinterested in corporate culture and, unwilling to jump through anymore hoops for the big bucks.

It's amusing, and disheartening, when you realize your dedication, smart work, energy, - all the things you put into your career daily - are ONLY for the sake of performing a duty and receiving a paycheck. This realization helped cement my corporate world exit strategy. It was time to let go of the illusion of control that the “big bucks” created. Don't get me wrong, big bucks rock! But, they will rock even louder on my terms as an entrepreneur and professional coach.

Toward the end of 2005, I started preparing my exit strategy. No longer a company creature; my job was surely destroying my soul. I longed to spend my days being left alone by the “powers that be”. After much thoughtful consideration, conversation with my husband and confidantes, moving forward on the path of my dreams was the only choice.

For about one year, many evenings, weekends and lunch hours were dedicated to taking classes and studying for my professional coaching certification. This due diligence included, setting a new household budget, moving investments, setting up a home equity line of credit, and finally, buying a new car (for the first time in 11 years!) The plan was to build my coaching business and the True Balance brand, one day at a time until I could give my two weeks notice.

One year ago, after fourteen years , I left my prior life on my terms. My former employer was planning to downsize our management group within a two months of my exodus. I volunteered to be the “lucky” executive and have never looked back. Thankfully this meant an unexpected severance and benefits package. Synchronicity is such a blessing!

I packed my box, said so long to the big bucks, turned in my company SUV, let go of a cushy expense account, and found the courage to walk away from a career that no longer suited me.

Fast-forward one year...

Being in the business of helping people recognize their brilliance is a blast! The focus for the rest of my days will be about helping people do the things they think they cannot do. And, the BIG BUCKS will come again without a doubt. All the characteristics that made me a success in corporate America will benefit me as an entrepreneur. It's all about balance and moving gracefully through a ginormous transition.

This caterpillar has become a butterfly.

Seven Strategies to a Graceful Career Transition

Figure out your passion and allow a minimum of 12 months for the transition.

Involve your family and close friends

Allow for short term setbacks

Get your finances in order and create a new household budget

Set clear and specific dates of completion for each part of the transition

Remain flexible

Find humor in your current environment

Author's Bio: 

For 15 years, Shann Vander Leek has inspired sales professionals and entrepreneurs. Telephone and email consultations make her accessible to clients all over the world. Please visit for more information or to schedule your complimentary discovery session. 231.668.1111